NASCAR Notes - Chasing Kevin Harvick

NASCAR Notes - Chasing Kevin Harvick

Editor's note: Dennis Bickmeier is a guest columnist. The views expressed below are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NBC12.

Seven races into the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, with the TOYOTA OWNERS 400 at RIR right around the corner, and from my seat, I think two of the best storylines circle around Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.

Harvick's mention seems like a no-brainer as he is the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion.  However, if you watch week-in and week-out, the overall performance level of this No. 4 team is not like anything I've seen in my 13 years in the sport.

Certainly, the numbers tell the story: two wins, four second-place finishes and seven Top-10s. He hasn't finished worse than eighth all season. That's a remarkable start to 2015.  Hit rewind for a minute to the end of the 2014 season, when he won the last two races, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami, respectively, to win the Sprint Cup Championship.  In fact, he had to win the Phoenix race to even be part of the four drivers who could have a shot at the title at Homestead.

Harvick is an unbelievable talent.  From the short tracks out west to being “the guy” that filled the seat of the late Dale Earnhardt in 2001, he is a great champion for our sport.  I didn't follow racing when I was younger, but I knew the name Richard Petty.  Comparisons to Petty don't come easily, but I'm starting to hear it more and more as he continues this impressive run.  Now, matching the King's 200 victories and seven championships, that's another story, but I believe NASCAR fans, young or old, new or avid, can appreciate true talent when you see it.

Speaking of talent, Truex Jr. has ripped off seven Top-10 finishes to start the year.  Good for him you might say.  This is a driver who was out of a job after the 2013 season and then hooked on with Furniture Row Racing, a single-car team based in Colorado.  A throwback team in my eyes, traveling the circuit and trying to make something happen.  This is a break-through year with all these Top-10 finishes.

Furniture Row has one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win, with Regan Smith in 2011 at Darlington, and Truex Jr. hasn't won a Sprint Cup Series race since Sonoma in 2013.  To me, this is one of those special opportunities we get in sports to see an underdog pushing through to not only be relevant, but make a statement.  Capturing a win, maybe here at RIR on April 25, would be that moment for Furniture Row Racing and Martin Truex Jr.