GEARWRENCH Racing: Kevin Harvick COTA Advance

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This weekend marks NASCAR’s second appearance at COTA. The 3.426-mile, 20-turn road course was built in 2011 and has been the American birthplace of Formula 1 since the motorsport world series returned to America with the 2012 United States Grand Prix. United dates back to 1950 when the Indianapolis 500 counted as a world championship round. Eleven times from 1950 to 1960, points scored at Indy were added to a Formula 1 driver’s season tally, and in 1959 America hosted two Formula 1 races when in addition to Indianapolis, the United States Grand Prix was held at Sebring (Fla.) International Racecourse. It served as the ninth and final round of the 1959 season. In 1960, Formula One moved to Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway before finally settling for a 20-year tenure at Watkins Glen (NY) 1961 International to 1980. From 1976 to 1980, Watkins Glen was joined by Long Beach, California, on the Formula One schedule, with the United States Grand Prix West running until 1983. After Watkins Glen disappeared from the calendar, Las Vegas took its place for two seasons (1981-82) with the Caesars Palace Grand Prix being held in its hotel parking lot. In 1982, America hosted three Formula 1 races when in addition to Long Beach and Las Vegas, Detroit was added to the schedule. Detroit hosted Formula 1 on a bumpy street circuit for seven years, its last grand prix being in 1988. Dallas made a single-race appearance in 1984 when Fair Park was converted into a Formula 1 circuit for the Grand Dallas Price. Phoenix was next for Formula 1 from 1989 to 1991 before a nine-year absence from the sport from American shores. But then Indianapolis Motor Speedway built a road course within the confines of the historic 2.5 mile oval and Formula 1 returned with the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis from 2000 to 2007. Unfortunately, Formula 1 in America has once again disappeared from the calendar. It wasn’t until COTA was built, becoming the first purpose-built Formula 1 facility in the United States, that Formula 1 was able to return to America.

Contrast best describes a ride around COTA. High speed and quick changes of direction include the layout between Turns 2 and 10, with this first sector similar to the Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex at England’s famous Silverstone circuit. The end of the lap from turn 12 to turn 20 before reaching the straight features low-speed combinations. The long back straight, however, is where drivers want to retain as much speed as possible to attack or defend into tight Turn 12. This turn, along with the climb to Turn 1 and the hairpin in the turn 11, offer good overtaking opportunities. .

Harvick made a total of 49 NASCAR Cup Series starts on road courses. He has 20 starts at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, 20 at Watkins Glen, four at Charlotte (NC) Motor Speedway Roval, two at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course and one each at COTA, Road America at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He has two wins – Watkins Glen in 2006 and Sonoma in 2017 – as well as 10 top 5s and 24 top 10s with 195 laps led.

Harvick has two COTA starts — one in the NASCAR Cup Series and one in the NASCAR Xfinity Series — and both came last year during NASCAR’s inaugural visit to the track. Harvick finished a solid fourth in the Xfinity Series race before suffering a DNF (Did Not Finish) in the Cup Series race due to a crash 19 laps into the 54-lap race, which was shortened by 14 laps by short of his planned distance of 68 laps due to heavy rain.

When Harvick took his first road victory at Watkins Glen in 2006, he had to beat his current owner to achieve it. Tony Stewart – the “Stewart” of Stewart-Haas Racing – had won the last two NASCAR Cup Series races on the seven-turn, 2.45-mile road course and was on course for a third straight victory as he led Harvick with four laps. participate in the 90 lap race. But Harvick, who had already led for 24 laps once, passed Stewart on lap 87 as the two lagged along the front straight and into corner one. Harvick held on to the lead despite Stewart in his rear-view mirror, earning a margin of victory of 0.892 seconds.

Harvick’s second career win on a road course also had a connection to Stewart. When Harvick won at Sonoma in 2017, he gave Stewart-Haas Racing its second straight win on the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course. The winner in 2016? None other than Stewart. It ended up being his 49th and final NASCAR Cup Series victory as Stewart retired from NASCAR racing at the end of the season.

Harvick’s last victory on a road course was his first in a Ford. When Harvick won at Sonoma in 2017, he became the 83rd different driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race driving a Ford. Harvick has now won 23 Cup Series races with Ford, making him one of only 13 drivers to have won 20 or more races with the manufacturer. He’s currently tied with Rusty Wallace and Carl Edwards for 11th on Ford’s all-time win list.

Harvick has four road wins outside of the NASCAR Cup Series. Two came in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2007 and Watkins Glen in 2007 – and two were in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West – Sonoma in 1998 and Sonoma in 2017. Harvick’s K&N Series win at Sonoma in 1998 was three years before his Cup Series debut on February 26, 2001 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham.

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