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Kevin Harvick first driver since Jeff Gordon in 2001 to lead 1,200-plus laps after first 15 races

kevin Harvick

After winning Sunday at Dover, Kevin Harvick advances to the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup and hopes to repeat this picture from last year’s season finale at Homestead.


The plaudits for and the accomplishments achieved by Kevin Harvick just keep growing.

NASCAR announced Saturday that Harvick is the first Sprint Cup driver since 2001 to lead 1,200 laps or more after the first 15 races of a season.

Jeff Gordon was the last driver to achieve that milestone back in 2001, which coincidentally was the same season he won his fourth and most recent Cup championship.

Harvick has led 1,225 laps and also leads the Sprint Cup Series in several other categories including average running position (7.3), number of fastest laps (755) and driver rating (a whopping 126.0).

The defending Sprint Cup champ also has two wins in the first 15 races, as well as 10 top-two finishes.

Perhaps surprising as the driver with the second-most number of laps led (665) and fastest laps (277) is Kurt Busch, who has amassed those numbers in three fewer races than Harvick due to missing the first three races of the season due to a NASCAR suspension.

One other note about Harvick: With that massive driver rating, if he’s able to sustain it in the remaining 21 races of the season including the Chase, he would break the mark of 112.2 set by Jimmie Johnson in 2009.

Johnson, of course in that season, won the fourth of what would be five consecutive championships from 2006 through 2010, as well as his sixth title in 2013.

Follow @JerryBonkowski