After dominating at Phoenix International Speedway, Kevin Harvick kept the momentum going as he topped the speed charts in Thursday’s test session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I think the best thing that happened today is the car didn’t run very fast at the beginning of the practice,” Harvick commented. “We were three or four tenths off and had to kind of abort on what we were doing and go a different route. The next route was not as good and the third route finally wound up being good. I think those are good things that are, for us, important because it gives us direction when we go to other mile and a half race tracks so we don’t have to do like we did today. We can get to what has been working for us and just go straight from there to progress that package to make it even better. I thought that was probably the best thing that came out of today.”
Kevin Harvick comes into this season as the new kid on the block at Stewart-Haas Racing, after making teh switch over during the off-season. He is also working with a new crew chief, Rodney Childers, who came over from Michael Waltrip Racing. It seems the pair have hit it off with the success they’re having.
However, while the new kids on the block are having success, that’s not to be said the same for their teammates.
Kurt Busch also enters his first year at SHR and so far, he hasn’t finished inside the top 20 in the first two races. Busch also saw his run cut short at Phoenix due to engine issues. You could be quick to say that is due to the ‘new car syndrome’ being the new guy on the team or possibly not having the right chemistry with his crew cheif Daniel Knost however it’s too early in the season to tell.
Entering her sophomore season and second year at SHR, Danica Patrick has yet to finish inside the top 35 as she wrecked out both races so far this year. When Patrick wrecked at Phoenix, she also wasn’t even inside the top 20. Patrick struggled all year, though, only picking a single top 10 finish, so her struggles are no surprise. However, some improvement was bound to seen this year to show growth. Not so far.
Patrick was inside the top 15 of the speed charts at Las Vegas throughout the whole test so possibly she can turn her season around with a good run.
Lastly, the boss Tony Stewart is coming back after his leg injury last year and working with new crew chief Chad Johnston. Stewart struggled with fuel pick-up issues at Daytona, and only finished 16th at Phoenix are struggling all day.
Coming into the year, there was a lot of skepticism about the team and how they’d jell together. Stewart put most of those questions at rest during his media availability pre-season, saying that everybody would be able to work better together and lean on each other due to previous experiences. So far, that’s not working out as Stewart planned.
Depending on how each of hte four mates run this weekend could say how the rest of the season will go as this is the first of many mile and half tracks that the series makes a visit to. If Patrick, Stewart and Kurt Busch don’t step up to the level that Harvick is at, you may see why Greg Zippidelli was right in that SHR wasn’t ready to expand to four teams.