|Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is going to have to earn it if he wants to reach victory lane Sundayafternoon in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
The .526-mile paperclip-shaped racetrack is the shortest on the Sprint Cup circuit while its low banking and tight corners provide some of the closest and toughest competition on the schedule.
Due to the tight quarters, a racecar rarely finishes a race at Martinsville without a tire mark on the door or a few dents in the sheet metal.
What makes it even more maddening for competitors is that they can race to the front of the field and stay there throughout the majority of the event, only to get shuffled back on a late-race restart if they wind up in the outside lane.
Harvick and the No. 4 team suffered that very fate at Martinsville in April, when he started 19th, raced to the front and led 72 laps before being stuck in the outside lane on consecutive late-race restarts, ultimately finishing 17th.
But the madness of Martinsville can work to a driver’s benefit, as well. Harvick found that out in April 2011, when he started ninth, led just six of 500 laps and beat runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the finish line by .727 of a second.Martinsville is one of only three Sprint Cup venues where Harvick has yet to score a top-five finish since joining SHR in 2014 – Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta are the other two. He may be looking for his first top-five at Martinsville since joining SHR, but he has shown speed and consistency at the Virginia short track with three top-10 finishes and 265 laps led in his five Martinsville starts since the start of 2014.
The No. 4 team has used a winning strategy to advance to this point in the Chase. The team advanced to the Round of 12 with a victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon before locking into the Round of 8 with a win at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
The Round of 8 should prove to be a challenge for Harvick and the No. 4 team. It features Martinsville this weekend, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth next weekend – one of four tracks on the circuit where he has yet to record a Sprint Cup win – and perhaps the saving grace of the round for the No. 4 team at Phoenix International Raceway, where Harvick has won six of his last eight Sprint Cup starts and has finished no worse than second in his last six starts at the mile oval.
The Bakersfield, California native continues his streak as the only driver since the inception of the elimination-style format in 2014 to avoid an early exit in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
He’ll look to keep that streak alive and well with a fresh start to this year’s Round of 8 on Sunday at Martinsville.
|KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
|What do you think about the next three races coming up?
“These next three races line up really well for us. We’ve been fortunate to have won at Martinsville before and we ran really well there the first race (this year). The 1.5-mile tracks have been our bread and butter and Phoenix has been really good pretty much every single time we’ve been there. First, it was just trying to get to Martinsville and we’ve accomplished that. Now we have to focus on getting the best finish we can out of each racetrack. I guess if I’d have to pick one that we’ve been most successful at it would be Phoenix, hands down. But our 1.5-mile stuff has been our bread and butter this year as we’ve gone through the season, so that should be good. And Martinsville has been good to us in the past.”
What do you expect to see in the transition from Talladega to Martinsville?
“Well, I think everybody is unhappy at this particular stage of the year because the intensity level is so high. You know that, whether that moment was good or bad, it could have been the moment you could win or lose the championship from. You see that intensity with a lot of guys. I think right now you just have to approach it as whatever you have to do to get the best finish for your team is what you have to do at this particular point. The goal is to get to Homestead and we have three races to do that.”
Busch Light Racing Team Report
Round 33 of 36 – Goody’s Fast Relief 500 – Martinsville Speedway
At-Track PR Contact:
Ryan Barry, True Speed Communication (704-500-1553
Danica Patrick – No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS
Tony Stewart – No. 14 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS
Kurt Busch – No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet SS
Primary Team Members:
Driver: Kevin Harvick
Hometown: Bakersfield, California
Crew Chief: Rodney Childers
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Car Chief: Robert Smith
Hometown: Whitewater, Wisconsin
Engine Builder: Hendrick Motorsports
Headquarters: Concord, North Carolina
Engine Specialist: Jereme Jackson
Hometown: Lincolnton, North Carolina
Spotter: Tim Fedewa
Hometown: Holt, Michigan
Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Gas Man: Justin White
Hometown: Lynnville, Tennessee
Front Tire Changer: Eric Maycroft
Hometown: Algonquiin, Illinois
Second Gas Man: Marc Wulf
Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska
Front Tire Carrier: Matt Holzbaur
Hometown: New Egypt, New Jersey
Windshield: Aaron Kuehn
Hometown: Kensington, Connecticut
Rear Tire Changer: Daniel Smith
Hometown: Concord, North Carolina
Jackman: Stan Doolittle
Hometown: Ninety Six, South Carolina
Rear Tire Carrier: Mike “Shrek” Morneau
Hometown: Oxford, Maine
Road Crew Members:
Truck Drivers: Rick Hodges and Stephen Mitchell
Hometowns: Raleigh, North Carolina, and Woodville, Ohio, respectively
Tire Specialist: Dustin Keath
Hometown: Reading, Pennsylvania
Shock Specialist: Mike 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
Fuel Runner: Evan Kureczka
Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
|Chassis Information – Chassis No. 4-864:
|Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Busch Light Chevrolet SS built on Chassis No. 4-864 in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Built in 2014, Chassis No. 4-864 made its debut at Martinsville in March 2014, when it started 18th, led one lap and finished seventh. It made its second appearance at Martinsville in October 2014, when it started 33rd and finished 33rd after being collected in an accident with Matt Kenseth. Its first appearance in 2015 also came at Martinsville, where it started 17th, led 154 laps and finished eighth after getting shuffled back on several late-race restarts. In November 2015, Harvick started 12th, led 38 laps and finished eighth. In its most recent appearance at Martinsville in April 2016, chassis No. 864 started 19th, led 72 laps and finished 17th after Harvick was shuffled back in the outside line on consecutive late-race restarts.
|Martinsville Speedway Notes of Interest:
- Earning It Since 2014: Harvick is in his 16th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and his third at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with crew chief Rodney Childers at the helm. Since their pairing at the beginning of 2014, Harvick and Childers combined to produce 12 victories, 10 poles, 52 top-five finishes and 72 top-10s; led 5,736 laps; won the 2014 Sprint Cup title; and finished runner-up in 2015 to champion Kyle Busch in 104 Sprint Cup events.
- Trophies of 2016: Harvick is one of 13 Sprint Cup winners through the first 32 races of 2016. He scored his first win of the season March 13 at Phoenix International Raceway in one of the closest finishes in series history, when he beat runner-up Carl Edwards to the finish line by .01 of a second. He scored his second win of the season in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where he started 24th, led 128 laps and beat runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr., by 1.933 seconds. He scored his third win of the season Sept. 25 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where he started 19th, led eight laps and finished .442 of a second ahead of runner-up Matt Kenseth. He scored his fourth and most recent win of the season on October 16 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, where he started 11th, led 74 laps and beat runner-up Carl Edwards by 1.183 seconds.
- Survive and Advance: Harvick’s Oct. 16 win in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas locked him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup Round of 8. Harvick advanced to the Round of 12 by winning the Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Sept. 25. Harvick finished the regular season with 876 points – more than any other driver. It marked the second consecutive season he has led the Sprint Cup points after the 26-race regular season.
- First or Second: Since joining SHR at the beginning of 2014, Harvick and Childers have teamed to score 35 top-two finishes – 12 wins and 23 runner-up efforts in 104 total races. The pairing has finished either first or second in nearly 34 percent of the Sprint Cup races since the start of 2014.
- 10,000 Laps Led: After leading 214 laps at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Harvick became just the fifth active full-time driver to lead 10,000 laps in his Sprint Cup career. He joins Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth. Harvick led 139 laps in the Good Sam 500k at Phoenix earlier this season to surpass 9,000 laps led for his Sprint Cup career.
- 1,000 Laps Led for the Third Consecutive Season: Harvick has led 1,305 laps through the first 32 points-paying races of 2016. He has now led 1,000 laps for a third consecutive season. He has led at least one lap in 21 of 32 points-paying Sprint Cup events this season. Prior to joining SHR in 2014, Harvick’s season-high was 895 laps led in 2006.
- Harvick in the Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville: The Goody’s Fast Relief 500 will mark Harvick’s 31st career Sprint Cup start at Martinsville. Harvick has one win, three top-five finishes and 14 top-10s at the half-mile oval. The 40-year-old driver has led 628 laps, has an average starting position of 14.6, an average finish of 15.9, and has completed 97.7 percent (14,693 of 15,034) of the laps he’s contested there.
- Harvick in the Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville: Harvick has made 17 starts in the Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville. Harvick has two poles, seven top-five finishes and nine top-10s. He has led 595 laps, has an average starting position of 8.1, an average finish of 11.6, and has completed 97.1 percent (3,846 of 3,960) of the laps he’s contested there.
- Career Totals: Harvick has 35 wins, 152 top-five finishes, 280 top-10s and 16 poles in 569 career Sprint Cup starts heading into Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!