By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
FORT WORTH, Texas – With intense on-track battles taking place over the past few seasons, six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson admitted at Texas Motor Speedway on Thursday that Kevin Harvick is on his radar.
Johnson, 40, has finished ahead of Harvick eight times since the 2014 season, the year Harvick moved to Stewart-Haas Racing and teamed with crew chief Rodney Childers. Although Harvick has scored nine wins and 53 top 10’s in 78 appearances with SHR, the 2014 Sprint Cup champion has had a habit of looking at the back of Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet at the finish.
“Oh gosh, since he’s sat in that No. 4 car, he’s been at the top of everybody’s conscious thought and radar,” Johnson said when asked if their frequency to finish 1-2 has made him pay more attention to Harvick. “They’ve rolled out in December of 2013, I guess it was, at the Charlotte test session and I wasn’t at that test session, but all I heard about was how much faster they were than the field. And they continue to do that through 2014 and ’15. We’ve all been essentially chasing the No. 4 in a lot of situations.
Since Tony Stewart jumped onboard as a co-owner/driver and the organization became known as Stewart-Haas Racing, Hendrick Motorsports has helped provide the team with resources equal to that of its own. Leaving Johnson to wonder how Harvick is fast each and every week.
‘When somebody has an advantage on the field, everybody is using every resource possible to try to understand why,” said Johnson. “We don’t have many, but we all have photographers that take pictures and try to look at the attitude of the car and maybe how long the side skirts are and develop opinions of what they might be doing. And then through all of that, we’ve had an association with Stewart-Haas and we could look at the database and see what they were doing. We just couldn’t make it go like they did.
“So, it’s always one of the mysteries in our sport how the same equipment with different flavors of driver and crew chief produce different speeds. It’s always been a big mystery.”
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