Harvick Hopes To Check Kentucky Off Of His Bucket List

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is looking to check an item off of his to-do list Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.

Harvick has scored Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins at 21 of 23 racetracks on the current Cup Series schedule. He lacks only Kentucky and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway – both tracks with a race remaining in 2018.

The only driver to win at more tracks than Harvick is 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, who has won races at all 23 venues the series visits with his victory in May at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway sealing the feat.

For Harvick, Kentucky also happens to be the only track on the current schedule where he’s yet to score a top-five finish.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion had a strong effort at the newly repaved Kentucky Speedway in 2016. He started from the pole position after inclement weather cancelled Cup Series qualifying and the starting lineup was set according to the NASCAR Rule Book. He went on to lead a race-high 128 of 267 laps around the 1.5-mile oval, but fuel strategy caused him to make a late-race pit stop that foiled his strong run and ended in a ninth-place finish. In 2017, Harvick again finished ninth at Kentucky.

The native of Bakersfield, California has scored five consecutive top-10 finishes at Kentucky dating back to 2013 with a best finish of seventh coming in 2014.

Also on the to-do list for Harvick this weekend and the seven races that follow is the accumulation of playoff points that are so critical at this point in the season. Thus, even more pressure to start up front and, ultimately, to try and win the Busch Pole award. Harvick’s 27 playoff points heading to Kentucky rank him second to Busch, who leads the series with 30.

The best way to score the maximum amount of playoff points in a race is to start up front, earn stage points and win races. Harvick and the No. 4 team can accomplish all of those goals with a win this weekend – and cross another track off his list while scoring the most playoff points possible.

The No. 4 Busch Light team will give it everything it has to earn the win and the points Saturday night at Kentucky.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
You’ve scored five straight top-10s at Kentucky Speedway but are still looking for that first top-five and win. What makes Kentucky so challenging?

“We’ve actually run really well there the last couple of years and led a lot of laps. I’m not sure it is any one thing that makes Kentucky challenging to be honest, just for the fact that they’ve recently repaved it and it really is a unique track that is hard to get everything just right.”

 

What challenges does the heat in Kentucky present this time of year?

“Kentucky is always a hot race and we’ve had some weather there over the last few years, but to be honest, it’s the same for everyone. It really just comes down to preparation for the driver and the team. As a driver I have to take care of myself to make sure I’m ready. The team has to focus on the doing the best they can to make it as bearable in the car. It also makes it tough on the handling of the car, especially on a new racing surface. It’s going to be very slick and hard to get the setup just right, but I’m confident in my team and the preparation they put into this race.”

Busch Light Racing Team Report

Round 19 of 36 – Kentucky 400 – Kentucky

At-Track PR Contact: Mike Arning, True Speed Communication (Mike.Arning@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. 4-986:
Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-986 at the Kentucky 400 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Built new in 2016, Chassis No. 4-986 made its NASCAR Cup Series debut in April at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, where it started 22nd, led one lap and finished 10th. In its second appearance, Harvick started on the pole at Kentucky in July after qualifying was cancelled due to rain, led 128 laps and finished ninth. In its final start of 2016, Harvick started fourth, finished fifth and led 33 laps in August at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Chassis No. 4-986 finished sixth at ISM Raceway near Phoenix in March in its first start of 2017. Its final start of 2017 came in October at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, where Harvick started second, led 37 laps and finished eighth. In its only start of 2018, Harvick started second at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and put up a dominant performance by leading 201 laps and finishing 7.450 seconds ahead of runner-up Clint Bowyer en route to the win.
Kentucky Notes of Interest:
· Dynamic Duo – While this is Harvick’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 points-paying victories, the non-points-paying 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte, 17 poles, 81 top-five finishes and 112 top-10s while leading 7,666 laps. They won the 2014 championship, finished runner-up in the 2015 title chase to champion Kyle 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.

 

· Harvick has career totals of 42 wins, 23 poles, 181 top-fives, 321 top-10s and 12,131 laps led in628 starts.

  • His most recent Cup Series win came at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City (May 12, 2018).
  • His last Busch Pole also came during the same weekendat Kansas (May 11, 2018).

· On Point – Harvick arrives at Kentucky second in in the championship standings with 692 points after his 19th-place finish Saturday night at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Harvick trails series leader Kyle Busch by 57 points.

 

· Kentucky Numerology – Harvick has top-10 finishes and has led a total of 128 laps in his seven career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kentucky. It stands as the only current Cup Series track where Harvick has yet to record a top-five finish. Kentucky and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway are the only two current Cup Series tracks where Harvick has yet to score a win. His average Kentucky start is 10.4, his average finish is 10.0 and he has completed all 1,876 laps of competition.

 

· Five Points-Paying Wins for No. 4 – Harvick’s five points-paying 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. Harvick also scored a non-points-paying win in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race May 19 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the second time in his career. Harvick’s five wins are also tied for best in the series with Kyle Busch, who scored his fifth win of the season July 1 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.

 

· Freaky Fast Qualifier – Harvick has qualified in the top-10 in 15 of the 18 NASCAR Cup Series race this season. He qualified 13th at Chicagoland, which marked the first time he was unable to advance to the final round of qualifying in a race where he made a qualifying attempt. An accident in practice April 13 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway prevented him from making a qualifying attempt. He also failed to make an attempt at Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600 due to an issue in prequalifying inspection. 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 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, 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 six times this season. The most recent came June 3 at Pocono, where he started second to polesitter Ryan Blaney.

 

· Three-Peat Notes – Harvick’s consecutive wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway near Phoenix marked only the 24th time in NASCAR’s modern era (1972 to present) that a driver won three consecutive races. 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, 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.

 

· Lap Leader –Harvick led his 12,000th lap in NASCAR Cup Series competition June 3 at Pocono. He is one of only 15 drivers to lead 12,000 laps in his Cup Series career. He joins Jimmie Johnson and Busch as the only two active drivers to accomplish that feat. Harvick’s laps-led total since 2014 is 7,666, which is 3,279 laps more than the total from his 13 previous seasons before joining SHR (2001 to 2013). Harvick has already led 1,040 laps in 2018 and has now surpassed 1,000 laps led in a season for the fourth time in his career. He’s done it three previous times, all with SHR.

 

· Already Playoff Bound – Harvick qualified for the 2018 NASCAR playoffs with his wins at Atlanta, Phoenix, Dover, and Kansas. He currently ranks second in playoff points with 27. 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, Dover, Pocono, Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn and Chicagoland Speedway (total of seven). 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 May 12 at Kansas, Harvick stands alone at 18th on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series win list. Among active drivers, Harvick’s 42 career wins rank third behind only series leader Johnson’s 83 and Busch’s 48 wins.

 

· Earning It at SHR – Harvick has earned 19 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victories since joining SHR in 2014, in addition to the non-points-paying 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.

 

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

 

· Harvick’s Happy Hours on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio – Harvick is in his second year as the co-host of the award-winning radio program Happy Hours on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel 90. The show debuted on March 28, 2017. It airs 7 to 9 p.m. ET on Tuesdays and features Harvick’s distinctive perspective on the sport and life outside the track. Harvick and co-host Matt Yocum take calls from listeners and give NASCAR fans a unique view on the driver’s life and interests when he is away from the racecar. On April 12, the show won the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards “Radio Program” category. Other finalists in the category included SiriusXM’s Basketball and Beyond with Coach K, as well as the Dan Le Batard Show, Dan Patrick Show and Jim Rome Show.

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

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