Harvick Has His All-Star Game On

Kevin Harvick Pit Stop

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has – with all due respects to the band Smash Mouth – “got his game on” this year as he looks to further upgrade his all-star status Saturday night in the Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

Harvick has dominated this season with five Cup Series victories, three of which have come on intermediate tracks similar to Charlotte  – Feb. 25 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, March 4 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and last Saturday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.

In addition to his impressive results this season, Harvick’s All-Star Race history is noteworthy, as well.

He’s making his 18th consecutive All-Star Race appearance, which will move him ahead of Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Labonte and into a tie with Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr., for the fifth-most consecutive appearances. Mark Martin has the most consecutive All-Star appearances at 24, and Jeff Gordon is second after making his 22nd straight appearance prior to his retirement at the conclusion of 2015. Rusty Wallace and Harvick’s team owner Tony Stewart are tied for third with 19.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion earned his first appearance in the All-Star Race during his 2001 rookie campaign, when he scored his first Cup Series win in only his third start at Atlanta that March, when he started fifth, led 18 laps and beat runner-up Gordon by .006 of a second for one of the closest finishes in series history. While it took Harvick just three races to qualify for his first All-Star Race, a brake issue in the non-points event in Charlotte forced him to retire after only 19 laps. He finished 21st.

Harvick won the 2007 All-Star Race when he started fourth, led 20 of 80 laps and beat runner-up Jimmie Johnson to the finish line by .141 of a second. The win made Harvick an automatic All-Star qualifier for the rest of his full-time career. However, he has also qualified for the All-Star Race by virtue of a win every season since 2010, as well as via his 2014 series title.

In addition to the 2007 win, Harvick has three runner-up finishes in the All-Star Race – two in the last four events and both under the SHR banner. He started third, led five laps and finished second to race-winner Jamie McMurray by .696 of a second in 2014. In 2015, he started 20th and finished second by .923 of a second to Denny Hamlin.

Harvick has three career points-paying victories at Charlotte winning the Coca-Cola 600 in both 2011 and 2013, and the Bank of America 500 in 2014.

While his Charlotte resume is rock solid in several respects, there will be some new modifications this weekend that the veteran driver and his fellow competitors will have to deal with in order to earn the $1 million prize Saturday night.

Each car will be required to use a horsepower-reducing restrictor plate – typically reserved for superspeedway races – as well as a splitter borrowed from the 2014 rules package, a 2018 radiator pan, a 6-inch-tall spoiler with two “ear” extensions measuring 12 inches tall, and manufacturer-specific air ducts designed to minimize the advantage of lead cars in undisturbed air.

There will also be a format change to the non-points feature race that is expected to add even more thrills to what it typically one of the wildest events of the year. The race is set to run in four stages – Stage 1 scheduled to end on lap 30, Stage 2 on lap 50, Stage 3 on Lap 70, and a final shootout that ends at the 80-lap race distance. Only green-flag laps will count during the final stage. NASCAR overtime rules will be in effect for the end of each stage. It’s designed to promote passing and tight competition, similar to the package the NASCAR Xfinity Series used at Indianapolis last year in a race that featured a record number of leaders and lead changes.

This year’s scheduled race distance is also 10 laps longer than the 2017 edition but will feature a pared-down procedural structure. Unlike previous formats, there will be no mandated pit stops, no choice of alternate tire compounds, no eliminations and no inversions of the running order.

That being said, Harvick is up for the challenge and ready to “go play” as he channels the “All Star” single in his pursuit of another All-Star Race victory this weekend.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
What makes this group of guys so successful each week?

“We have a group of guys who want to be successful and push harder every week so they don’t have that letdown. They want to keep experiencing that success. For me, it’s fun right now because I feel like we playoff race every week. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense to a lot of people but, what that means is, normally when you go from the regular season to the playoffs, people get a little extra out of what they’re doing throughout the year – they find a little more speed, a little more downforce. We’re doing that every week. That’s something I always thought that Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus did very well throughout the years. They came with that same mentality that Rodney (Childers, crew chief) is pushing on his guys. We want to go win practice, win qualifying and then win the race. Those groups of people who buy into that are hard to find because that work capacity level is high and it takes a lot to be able to maintain that.”

 

How mentally fatiguing is it to have that all-in mentality all the time?

“You have to manage it because of the fact that you have to have a personal life and function at home. For me, that’s easy because, when you get home, it’s Keelan punching you in the stomach, Piper crying and wanting a bottle, or DeLana asking if I did something specific today. So immediately, that switch turns the other way toward family and what you have to do at home. You think about all those things all the time, but you’re able to focus on being at the racetrack or being around the team guys and focused on the cars, then you go home and it immediately switches gears. For me, when you have that circle of life and all those things balanced, you’re able to switch from A to B to C to D and be able to not worry about A because you know you’ve done everything you can do to get A organized, be financially responsible over here and, at your job, you know that you’ve put in the effort to have that relationship with your crew chief, pay attention to the details, go to the meetings and make those phone calls so that, when you’re doing B, you’re not worried about A, C and D. When you’re doing D, you’re not worried about A, B, and C. That to me is part of having a balanced life.”

 

When you look at the makeup and culture at Stewart-Haas Racing, what sticks out to you?

“When you look at the culture at Stewart-Haas Racing, it’s really a result of the owners. When you look at Gene Haas, he is a guy who builds CNC machines and loves racing. Tony Stewart is a blue-collar guy who just loves to race. The common denominator there is that those guys both love to race. Part of what happens at SHR is they hire someone and say, ‘OK, we hired you to be the crew chief of the No. 4 car,’ and they let that person have an open mind and an opinion. They let me have an opinion and be involved in the things that happen at SHR and with the No. 4 team. You feel like you are a piece of the puzzle. When you feel like you’re a piece of the puzzle and you have an environment that’s a racer mentality that is very blue collar – then you add in a partner like Ford, who just wants to race and win. Ford puts so much effort into giving the race teams and buying into what it takes to be a successful OEM from a NASCAR racing standpoint. I was at Mobil 1 this week and you just look at the research, development, and things they bring to the race team – they are the same way. They want to create the best lubricants, greases and things that go into our engines, transmissions, rear-end gears, hubs. You look at everything that we have going on with partners like those two in Mobil 1 and Ford from a technology standpoint and those things are priceless. Everybody wants the same things and has the same mentality. It is very racer-oriented and blue collar.”

Jimmy John’s Racing Team Report

Non-Points Event – Monster Energy All-Star Race – Charlotte

At-Track PR Contact: Ryan Barry, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 812, Ryan.Barry@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)
Primary Team:
Driver: Kevin Harvick
Hometown: Bakersfield, California
Crew Chief: Rodney Childers
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Car Chief: Robert Smith
Hometown: Whitewater, Wisconsin
Engine Builder: Roush-Yates Engines
Headquarters: Mooresville, North Carolina
Engine Specialist: Robert Brandt
Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
Spotter: Tim Fedewa
Hometown: Holt, Michigan
Over-The-Wall Crew:
Gas Man: Justin White
Hometown: Lynnville, Tennessee
Front Tire Changer: Eric Maycroft
Hometown: Algonquin, Illinois
Rear Tire Changer: Daniel Smith
Hometown: Concord, North Carolina
Jackman: Stan Doolittle
Hometown: Ninety-Six, South Carolina
Tire Carrier: Mike “Shrek” Morneau
Hometown: Oxford, Maine
Road Crew:
Truck Drivers: Rick Hodges and Stephen Mitchell
Hometowns: Raleigh, North Carolina, and Woodville, Ohio, respectively
Tire Specialist: Chris Rock
Hometown: Steubenville, Ohio
Shock Specialist: Michael McCarville
Hometown: Kensington, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Engineers: Dax Gerringer and Billy Keubler
Hometowns: Gibsonville, North Carolina, and Saline, Michigan, respectively
Mechanics: Richie Bean and Allen Mincey
Hometown: Bradford, Vermont, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, respectively

Interior Specialist: Matt Custer

Hometown: Bedford, Pennsylvania

Chassis No. 4-899:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-899 in the Monster Energy All-Star Race Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Built in 2014, Chassis No. 4-899 made its debut that September at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, where it started sixth, led 79 laps and finished fifth. Since its debut, Chassis No. 4-899 has started on the front row three times, including twice from the pole position, and recorded six top-five finishes, nine top-10s and led 697 laps through 13 NASCAR Cup Series starts. It was slated to be the backup at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in April but was forced into action due to an accident in practice. The team was unable to prepare the car in time for qualifying, which forced it to start at the rear of the field. The team rallied to a seventh-place finish.

 

All-Star Notes of Interest:
· Always An All-Star – Harvick has competed in the All-Star race all 17 years he’s been in the NASCAR Cup Series. As a rookie in 2001, Harvick won at Atlanta Motor Speedway in just his third Cup Series start to gain entry into the All-Star event. In 2006, Harvick finished second to Jimmie Johnson by 1.729 seconds but got payback the following year when he won the 2007 All-Star Race by holding off Johnson by .141 of a second.

 

· Harvick’s All-Star Stats – In 17 NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race appearances, Harvick has the 2007 win, three second-place finishes, four top-fives, 10 top-10s and led 88 laps.

 

· Harvick has career totals of 42 wins, 23 poles, 177 top-fives, 317 top-10s and 11,911 laps led in622 starts.

  • His most recent Cup Series win came last Saturday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City
  • His last Busch Pole also came last weekend at Kansas.

· Back-To-Back – Harvick is coming off consecutive wins at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Kansas. He first scored back-to-back wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway and made it three wins in a row the following week when he reached victory lane at ISM Raceway near Phoenix.

 

· Three-Peat Notes – Harvick’s three consecutive wins at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix marked only the 24th time in NASCAR’s modern era (1972 to present) that a driver won three consecutive races. In nine of the 23 previous times a driver won three consecutive races in a season, that driver has gone on to win the championship. Prior to Harvick’s three-peat, Kyle Busch was the most recent driver to win three in a row – in 2015, when he went on to score his first and, so far, only championship. Ironically, Busch has also won three straight races this season – April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, April 16 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, and April 21 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.

 

· DYK? Seven of the last 15 NASCAR Cup Series races have been won by a driver over 40 years old. Harvick, age 42, is responsible for six of those victories.

 

· Five Wins for No. 4 – Harvick’s five wins in 2018 is tied for his most wins in a season. He also won five races in 2014. This is the sixth time Harvick has scored at least four wins in a season.

 

· Feels Like the First Time – This is the first time Harvick has won five races in the first 12 races of a season. The last time a driver had five wins in the first 12 races of a season was Jeff Gordon in 1997, who won 10 times that year.

 

· On Point – Harvick arrives at Charlotte third in the championship with 484 points after his win at Kansas. It was his seventh consecutive top-10 finish and 10th of the year.

 

· Charlotte Numerology – Harvick has two poles, three wins, four second-place finishes, eight top-threes, 16 top-10s and has led a total of 528 laps in his 34 career NASCAR Cup Series points-paying starts at Charlotte. His average start is 15.3, his average finish is 14.8 and he has a lap completion rate of 96.6 percent, completing 11,780 of the 12,191 laps available.

 

· There’s No Place Like Home, aka Intermediate Tracks – Of Harvick’s 42 NASCAR Cup Series wins, 17 have come at intermediate-style racetracks (1.5-miles in length or longer, and not including restrictor-plate tracks). Three of Harvick’s five wins this season have come at intermediate tracks – Atlanta, Las Vegas and Kansas. Harvick also finished runner-up April 8 at Texas.

 

· Power of Three – The combination of Harvick competing at Charlotte in SHR equipment is impressive. In his last eight points-paying NASCAR Cup Series starts at Charlotte – all of which have come with SHR – Harvick has a win, two poles, three runner-up finishes and only one finish worse than eighth (38th in October 2016). And of the 528 total laps Harvick has led at Charlotte dating back to his rookie year in 2001, 494 of those laps have come with SHR (93 percent), despite only eight of his 34 Charlotte starts being with SHR (23.5 percent).

 

· To Xfinity and Beyond – Harvick has made 28 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Charlotte. He has three poles (May 2001 and 2003, and October 2003), eight top-fives and 18 top-10s with a total of 351 laps led.

 

· Freaky Fast Qualifier – Harvick has qualified in the top-10 in every NASCAR Cup Series race this season where he has made a qualifying attempt. An accident in practice April 13 at Bristol prevented him from making a qualifying attempt. Harvick scored his first Busch Pole of the year at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, where he recorded a lap of 49.247 seconds at 194.448 mph. He scored his second pole of the season last week at Kansas, where he recorded a lap of 28.600 seconds at 188.811 mph.

 

· Starting on the Front Row – Harvick has started on the front row five times this season. The most recent came from the pole last Saturday at Kansas.

 

· Already Playoff Bound – Harvick qualified for the 2018 NASCAR playoffs with his wins at Atlanta, Phoenix, Dover and Kansas. He will enter the playoffs with a minimum of 24 playoff points, currently the most of any driver. He gained five playoff points for each race win at Atlanta, Phoenix, Dover and Kansas, and an additional point for each of his stage wins at Atlanta, Texas and Dover (total of four). The No. 4 team’s race win at Las Vegas does not count toward the team’s playoff qualification due to a post-race penalty.

 

· Make Your Mark – With his win last Saturday at Kansas, Harvick stands alone at 18th on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series win list. Among active drivers, Harvick ranks third behind only series leader Johnson (83 career wins) and Busch (46 career wins).

 

· Earning It at SHR – Harvick has earned 19 NASCAR Cup Series victories since joining SHR in 2014.

 

· Out Front – Harvick’s laps-led total since 2014 is 7,485, which is 3,059 laps more than the total from his 13 previous seasons before joining SHR (2001 to 2013).

 

· Dynamic Duo: While this isHarvick’s 18th year in the NASCAR Cup Series, it’s only his fifth with crew chief Rodney Childers. Since joining forces at SHR in 2014, Harvick and Childers have combined to produce 19 victories, 17 poles, 77 top-five finishes and 108 top-10s while leading 7,485 laps. They won the 2014 championship, finished runner-up in the 2015 title chase to champion Busch, finished eighth in 2016 and third in 2017. The team has qualified for the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway three of the last four seasons.

 

· 103 and Counting – Harvick scored his 100th career win in NASCAR’s top three series when he won the NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas and his 101st at Phoenix the following week. He now has 103 total victories – 42 Cup Series wins, 47 in the Xfinity Series and 14 in the Camping World Truck Series. Only four drivers in NASCAR history have passed 100 wins in NASCAR’s top three series: Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Kyle Busch and Harvick.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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