MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Kevin Harvick of Stewart Haas Racing will attempt to win his third Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 presented by Big Machine Records Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The defending winner of the race led 118 laps of the 160 circuits of the 2.5-mile speedway. He also won at the Brickyard in 2003.
Both victories came from the pole.
Similarly, Harvick’s boyhood hero, Rick Mears, won three of his four Indianapolis 500s from the pole.
Harvick is tied with Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon with three pole positions at the Brickyard. Mears holds the record for Indy 500 pole positions earned with six.
Being compared to Mears is quite an honor to Harvick, who has won 52 NASCAR Cup Series races and the 2014 series championship.
“I think, for me growing up in Bakersfield, a Rick Mears fan and racing around Clint, his son, in go‑karts and seeing Rick and Roger (Mears, brother) and that whole Mears Gang at the race track, that was part of my childhood,” Harvick said. “To see the success that he (Rick) had (at Indianapolis) and know the racing heritage that the Mears family has at this particular race track, and the history that they have is something for me that’s pretty special, just because of the fact that those are people I grew up around.
“They came from the same town that I come from in Bakersfield, and it’s just something you don’t really realize when you’re a young kid.”
Mears beams with pride over Harvick’s success. The two know each other well.
Although each driver achieved success in different forms of racing, the two sides will converge Saturday when the NTT IndyCar Series hits the road course for the GMR Grand Prix at noon, followed at 3 p.m. by the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
The Brickyard 400 will be Sunday at 4 p.m.
“It doesn’t matter what car or whatever, it’s Indy,” Mears said. “I’ve followed (Harvick’s) career, especially because he’s from Bakersfield. I was living in and out of Bakersfield and I remember watching him run some short-track stuff out there and he was doing a good job then. I remember talking with him when he was old enough to drive and you could see a lot of the short-track styling and learning at work.
“The way he backs the corner up and the kind of stuff you have to do at places like the (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway.”
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