The last driver to win four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races in succession was Jimmie Johnson back in 2007.
Kevin Harvick hopes to be the next. After winning at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix, he comes to Auto Club Speedway with momentum on his side ... and the championship lead.
"I feel good," he said ahead of the race weekend. "I think as you look at the schedule for us, I think this is one that we’ve all had circled since I’ve been at SHR as a track that we hadn’t won at, that we felt like we’ve run well enough to won at, and for me personally it’s obviously close to home and I crashed coming to the green flag last year, so there’s got to be a little bit of redemption somewhere along the line to pick yourself back up and recover from that, so I’m looking forward to the weekend and hopefully we can keep doing what we’ve been doing."
Confidence at an all-time high
Harvick has only won once at Fontana in 24 career starts, but he's also finished second in two the last three races there. As if he wasn't confident enough, he's led two of the weekend's three practice sessions and nearly swept all three rounds of qualifying. Unfortunately for the No. 4 team, a bobble in the last round precluded him from taking pole position, forced to settle for tenth on the grid.
Beyond showing raw speed, the No. 4 has also been among the quickest cars in the five, ten and 15 lap averages during practice.
"I think everybody is extremely confident," he said. "I think that confidence just builds and every moment you just become more and more confident in the things that you can and can’t do. I think as you look at our team in general it’s a unique situation and you guys have heard me talk about this a lot just because of the fact that we all have so much confidence in each other and then you add everything that happened with the penalty in the middle of all that and it just really added fuel to the fire.
"We’ve talked about this in the past, but how do you race every week like you do in Playoff mentality and that’s really what it’s felt like the first four weeks that we’ve been on the race track. That part, to me, is fun because I feel like that’s really what Jimmie (Johnson) and Chad (Knaus) did for so many years."
A rare opportunity
The opportunity to win four consecutive races at the top level of NASCAR is not an opportunity that comes around often. It hasn't been done in over a decade and Harvick himself has never had the chance to win four straight.
It's a strong contrast to his 2017 season, where the No. 4 team went 16 races before winning their first race. In fact, Harvick has won more races in the first four races of the 2018 season than he did in the previous 40.
"I’m just happy to win one let alone two in a row, three in a row. And this most likely probably will be the only opportunity that you’ll ever have to do it because it’s hard to string together just putting a whole day together and the odds of putting three weeks together, but anytime you can put your name next to a group of guys on a list that you just mentioned is something that’s pretty special and just shows the magnitude of where our race team is at right now and how good it’s actually functioning.”