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Kevin Harvick: ‘We’re better than Truex’ on 1.5-mile tracks

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Mobil 1 Ford, leads Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

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FORT WORTH, Texas – In case you missed the memo, Kevin Harvick has won three of the past four races at 1.5-mile tracks in NASCAR’s premier series. He outdueled last year’s 1.5-mile maestro, defending series champion Martin Truex Jr., on the last trip to Texas Motor Speedway. He’s undefeated on that layout this season.

So does Harvick feel his No. 4 Ford is right with Truex’s No. 78 Toyota (which notched a record seven wins on 1.5-mile tracks last year) entering Sunday’s race O’Reilly 500?

“That seems like a self-answering question,” Harvick said with a chuckle during a Friday morning news conference. “Did you have to ask that question to figure it out?”

OK, so you feel you’re right there with Truex?

“We’re better than Truex,” Harvick smiled again.

Harvick, who has wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway this year since outdueling Truex with a pass for the lead with 10 laps remaining here last November, said it’s simply been a matter of Stewart-Haas Racing finding its footing with Ford (it switched to the manufacturer last year).

Since being paired with crew chief Rodney Childers, Harvick had some of the best Cup results on 1.5-mile ovals (four wins from 2014-16) aside from a brief dip last year as the team got acclimated to the Fusion.

“We have, in my opinion, the most stable team in the garage,” Harvick said. “When you have the most stable team in the garage from a financial standpoint (and) a manufacturer standpoint, that attracts good people.

“In the end, it’s all about good people. We have a very committed manufacturer and ownership group, and we’re just the drivers lucky enough to be in the position where SHR is right now. We have a very solid foundation which I believe in this day and age is something to hang your hat on.

“The commitment (co-owner) Gene (Haas) makes from a financial standpoint, the stability of the company is never in question because of a few races that aren’t sold here and there. As you look at that long-term commitment that Ford made, Gene’s commitment just building the team and keeping it where it’s at and then you start putting in people in different places, and they wind up having been there for a number of years, that makes a big difference. Because people on the outside see that. When people see they can work somewhere for a long time and don’t have to worry about their job, that makes a difference when you’re trying to hire people.”