Will 'Happy' Harvick have his way in the Sprint All-Star Race?
MAY 13, 2014 3:00p ET
The Sprint All-Star Race is a no-holds-barred, wide-open affair that tends to favor drivers unafraid to push the limits and go for broke.
No driver has had his foot on the proverbial gas any more this season than Kevin Harvick.
One of only two repeat winners in the first 11 races of the 2014 Sprint Cup Series campaign, Harvick is among a handful of clear favorites to prevail in Saturday night's five-segment, 90-lap showdown worth a cool $1 million to win.
Fresh off a near victory in last Saturday night's race at Kansas Speedway, where he started from the pole, led a race-high 119 laps and finished a close second to Jeff Gordon, Harvick has every reason to be confident about this Saturday night's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In addition to being one of the fastest drivers all season in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, Harvick knows how to win at Charlotte and has been particularly potent in recent years at the 1.5-mile track.
Driving for Richard Childress Racing, the organization where Harvick spent his entire Sprint Cup career prior to 2014, the Bakersfield, Calif., native captured the all-star race in 2007 and picked up Coca-Cola 600 wins at Charlotte in 2011 and 2013.
While Saturday night will mark Harvick's first Charlotte start for Stewart-Haas, he comes into the big-money, non-points event knowing that his Rodney Childers-led team is more than capable of finding Victory Lane.
And he's willing to roll the dice, if necessary, to get there.
"Obviously, you go in with intentions of racing for the win, and you'll do whatever it takes if you're in position to win the race," Harvick said. "If you're not in a position to win, you usually gamble, from a strategy standpoint, to try and put yourself in position to win."
A second all-star victory would put Harvick in some elite company. Only six drivers -- Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Terry Labonte and Mark Martin -- have won the popular exhibition race more than once.
Only one repeat winner -- Labonte -- has gone to Victory Lane with different teams, which Harvick would do with a win on Saturday.
"Charlotte had never been a track that we'd run very well at up until 2006," Harvick said. "So to go and win the race in 2007 gave us a lot of confidence, for sure. Obviously, a win in the all-star race makes you a million dollars richer and puts you on a unique list of winners who have won that race before.
"So it definitely makes you want to experience all of that again as we go back every year."
Of course, before one races, he must first qualify. Harvick always looks forward to the all-star race's one-of-a-kind qualifying procedure in which drivers make three laps and a mandatory green-flag pit stop that can either make or break their qualifying time.
For the first time this year, qualifying will occur immediately before the event, rather than on the previous day.
"I think, as you go into the all-star race, you kind of throw everything out the window as far as what you've done all year for the fact that you're coming off pit road really fast," Harvick said. "And not having a pit-road speed limit usually has the drivers screwing up more than anybody, just for the fact that you overshoot the pit box or something of that nature.
"So it makes it really fun. It's unique compared to what we normally do from a qualifying standpoint, involving the pit guys into the pit stop."
WATCH! The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race: 7 p.m. ET Saturday, FOX Sports 1
Reminder: NASCAR Race Hub has moved to 5 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 effective Monday, May 12. More information: http://msn.foxsports.com/nascar/racehub