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Harvick, Hamlin still in search of victory towards Kansas

Brad Keselowski won nine different winners in the first 10 races of the NASCAR Cup Series season last week in Talladega.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) – Kevin Harvick learned the importance of survival when you don’t have the best car early in your racing career, whether on go-karts as a child or models lagging behind on the defunct NASCAR Southwest Tour in the early 1990s.

“My first year on late models,” said Harvick, “I think I only managed to run seven races because I crashed the car every time we went out on the race track and it took us a month to fix it because we couldn’t just go out, buy the parts and put all together. We had to fix everything. This was something that got ingrained in my head. “

The moral of the story?

“When you have a car in 15th place and can finish 10th in it,” Harvick explained, “this is a victory.”

However, it is not as sweet as a real victory. And going to the Kansas Speedway this weekend, the former NASCAR Cup Series champion has yet to reach the victory track, although it seems that almost everyone else has. Brad Keselowski added nine winners in the first 10 races last weekend in Talladega with an overtime pass to victory.

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It is the fourth time since the beginning of the modern era in 1972, so many different winners in 10 races.

“It is not a position we have not been in before,” said Harvick, whose three wins in Kansas are tied for most of history. “It is a great science project, I can say for sure. There are many engineers on many computers burning the midnight oil, trying to make sure that we start to make some progress and get our cars back to where we need them. “

He is not alone as the series heads to Heartland.

Denny Hamlin, another three-time winner in Kansas, has eight results in the top 5 in the first 10 races, but has not yet reached the victory track. He won two of the last three races at the 1.5-mile oval west of downtown Kansas City, including last season’s “spring” race that was postponed to the end of July because of the pandemic.

It is not that Harvick and Hamlin were not quick; the two spent most of the season in the top five. They just didn’t lead the round that matters most.

“I mean, there is frustration, for sure. But that doesn’t change my attitude or work ethic, ”said Hamlin after finishing second in Richmond a few weeks ago. “I will work hard to win next week and the week after. You are a competitor, you want to win. Especially when you have a great opportunity to win. “

Like Harvick and Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott hope to turn their success in Kansas into a long-awaited victory.

Busch has more wins (six in all series) in the track’s 20-year history than any other driver, while series champion Elliott won the 2018 Kansas playoff race and has six first ten places in 10 career matches .

“Something I tell everyone year after year – whether we have had a good year or a bad year – you never know what the next year will bring,” said Harvick. “Last year, everything went our way. This year, it didn’t really happen our way. Our Busch Light team really did a great job of scratching and grabbing for every position you can get on the weekend. This gave us time, week after week, to get our cars back to where we wanted them to be. “

STARTING LINE

Keselowski, twice Kansas winner, will start on pole on Sunday based on the mathematical formula that NASCAR is using for most races this season. William Byron, who beat Hamlin to win at Homestead, will start out on the front row.

MOMENT OF MARCH

Ryan Newman will tie longtime friend and mentor Buddy Baker to 18th place on the career start list when he takes the green flag for the 700th time. Harvick and Kurt Busch are the only other active Cup drivers with so many matches.

“Seven hundred matches means I’m old, and that’s okay,” said Newman. “I am experienced, I lost more than I won, just like everyone else in this sport, and it is really cool to have been doing something for so long that I have been so passionate about.”

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