NASCAR Richmond 2014: Kevin Harvick compares himself to Ricky Bobby

Jeff Curry

Kevin Harvick is playing the role of Ricky Bobby this season -- if he’s not first, he’s last.

You will have to pardon Kevin Harvick for using a quote from a well-known NASCAR-themed movie to illustrate his season Friday, but it's certainly an apt descriptor.

"I think for us we have been like a Ricky Bobby scene, we have been first or last," said Harvick, reciting a line from the film Talladega Nights. "There has really been no in-between."

Through eight races, no driver has won more races (two) or led more laps (515) than Harvick, who is in his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing. Yet despite his dominance, Harvick's year has been equally defined by what it hasn't been: consistent.

In between victories at Phoenix and Darlington, Harvick endured a stretch where he finished 36th or worse in four of five races. It was a period featuring the common sight of the No. 4 car limping to the garage early due to some sort of mechanical failure.

That lack of reliability is why Harvick, despite his brilliance, finds himself not near the top of the points standings but ranked 22nd overall entering Saturday's Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Not that Harvick is concerned with accruing points.

Because of NASCAR's new method of qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which emphasizes winning and not necessarily consistency, Harvick is assured of a playoff berth as long as he attempts every race and stays inside the top 30 in points.

"The performance of the cars has been really good and obviously we have had some problems, but it's just one of those deals where being the points leader and having points is really irrelevant at this point," Harvick said. "You just go out and try to put your best foot forward every week to get a win.

"As many wins as possible is our goal at this point."

Their goal of winning is very attainable Saturday night. Harvick enters as the defending champion, and the Virginia short track shares similar characteristics with Phoenix International Raceway, where he led 224 of 312 laps en route to a victory.

"For whatever reason (Richmond) has fit my driving style through the years," Harvick said. "I grew up on a lot of flat, worn-out race tracks and my days at (Richard Childress Racing) we spent a lot of time on our flat-track program and short-track program. My driving has become accustom to these types of tracks."

And if another broken part so happens to derail a potential triumph Saturday, Harvick and his team have learned how to handle the inevitable disappointment.

"Whether it's your own doing or a part failure, it doesn't matter when you are in position to win races and something on your car breaks or something happens -- everybody feels like crap regardless," Harvick said. "It's a huge test for everybody as you go through those moments, but the character of the team is there. Everybody gets along well and nobody really gets wound up."

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