Kevin Harvick Is Anxious To Get To Phoenix

Kevin Harvick and Daniel Suarez

(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is considered a favorite nearly every time he visits Phoenix International Raceway, but Sunday’s Camping World 500k Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race marks a new beginning behind the wheel of a Ford Fusion for the first time at the mile oval in the desert.

Harvick has an unmatched and impressive list of accomplishments at Phoenix headed by a series-high eight NASCAR Cup Series wins, including five of the last seven and six of the last nine. He is the only Cup Series driver to win four consecutive races at Phoenix. He won the November 2013 race, swept the 2014 races and won in March 2015 before ending the streak with a second-place finish in November 2015. Only five drivers have won consecutive Cup Series races at Phoenix and Harvick is the only driver to win consecutive races twice. He swept both races in 2006 to go with his back-to-back wins in 2014.

According to NASCAR loop data, Harvick is the only driver to score a perfect 150.0 driver rating on three different occasions at Phoenix. Harvick scored his first perfect rating at the mile oval in November 2006, when he started second and led 252 of 312 laps on his way to victory lane. He accomplished the feat a second time by winning the November 2014 race, which he started third and led 264 of 312 laps. His third perfect score came in March 2015, when he won the pole, led 224 of 312 laps and beat Jamie McMurray to the finish line by 1.153 seconds.

Harvick scored his first and only Phoenix pole in NASCAR Cup Series competition in March 2015 with a lap of 25.577 seconds at 140.751 mph.

In addition to the Cup Series, Harvick has five other NASCAR touring series wins – four in the Camping World Truck Series and one in the Xfinity Series. The 2014 Cup Series champion won the Truck Series events at Phoenix in 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009. He scored his lone Xfinity win at Phoenix in 2006.

Luckily for Harvick and the No. 4 Jimmy John’s team, they were able to participate in the NASCAR test session at Phoenix on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. It was the team’s first outing with the No. 4 Ford Fusion and allowed valuable track time in preparation for this weekend’s event.

Harvick and the Jimmy John’s team hope to return to their winning ways at Phoenix this Sunday and secure their position in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. A win Sunday would be their first of the 2017 campaign and would extend Harvick’s series-best win total at Phoenix.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What makes racing at Phoenix unique?

“Phoenix is a really flat racetrack where you want to have the freshest tires possible, but track position is really important. A lot of what happens at Phoenix depends on the weather and how hot it is – how much (tire) fall-off and how you have to manage track position throughout the day. The cooler the day is, the more you have to manage your track position. The hotter the day, the more you have to manage the fall-off. Better-handling cars will have a little easier time getting through the field.”

You’ve had great success at Phoenix but, on top of a new aero package there this season, does your team have to adjust to a whole new car with the switch to Ford?

“I think those were some of our biggest questions when we went to the first test of the year at Phoenix. We had to run down some checklists of really basic things to try to figure out exactly where we need to be, what we need to do, what we need to work on. The main thing is that we now have a starting point to work from. There’s not a lot of guessing anymore. We know what’s going on and where we are at and going around a racetrack is what we needed to be doing, so we know where to work from here.”

Did the Ford Fusion feel similar to what you were expecting or compared to what you’ve run in the past?

“Yes, there was really no surprise with the way it felt. The things we worked on are very similar to what we have worked on in the past. I think this particular aero package – with the spoiler and splitter – is very similar to a lot of the things we fought last year at the end of the season. Now we can dive into the problems and try to solve those issues, but they are very similar to the things we’ve had in the past.”

When you went to the test, did you notice much of a difference in the balance of the car?

“The drivability of the Ford Fusion is not that big of a difference, but the balance of the car is definitely different than what we’ve had in the past. I think there is just not one reason for that, though. I think that’s a bit of where we are right now. We have to look at it and say, ‘Is it the balance of the car? Is it the balance of the new aero package?’ But that doesn’t matter – you know what the problems are that you’re going to fight there. It’s irrelevant what it is really, at this point. We just have to address the handling and make it better at this point.”

Jimmy John’s Racing Team Report

Round 4 of 36 – Camping World 500k – Phoenix

At-Track PR Contact: Ryan Barry, True Speed Communication (704-500-1553,
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: Roush-Yates Engines

Headquarters: Moorseville, North Carolina


Engine Specialist: Robert Brandt

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama


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: Matthew Custer

Hometown: Bedford, Pennsylvania


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. 4-986:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-986 in the Camping World 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. 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 first after rain cancelled qualifying at Kentucky, led 128 laps and finished ninth. In its final start of 2016 and its most recent start, Harvick started fourth, finished fifth and led 33 laps at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn in August.


Phoenix International Raceway Notes of Interest:
· Freaky Fast Since 2014: Harvick enters his 17th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and his fourth at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with crew chief Rodney Childers at the helm. In their first three seasons together, Harvick and Childers combined to produce 12 victories, 11 poles, 54 top-five finishes and 75 top-10s; led 5,815 laps; won the 2014 Cup Series title; finished runner-up in 2015 to champion Kyle Busch and eighth in 2016.


· Points Position: Harvick arrives at Phoenix International Speedway ranked eighth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings with 91 points after a 38th-place finish in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas.


· Playoff Points: Harvick is one of five drivers to score a playoff point through the first three Cup Series races of the season. Martin Truex Jr. leads with seven playoff points after winning both stages and the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. SHR teammate Busch and Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski are tied for second with five playoff points each. Harvick has tallied three playoff points and Kyle Busch has one.


· Leader of the Pack: Through the first three NASCAR Cup Series starts of 2017, Harvick has led 342 of 792 laps – 43.1 percent of the total laps. Martin Truex Jr. ranks second in laps led with 152.


· Harvick in the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix: Sunday’s Camping World 500k will mark Harvick’s 29th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix. Harvick has a series-high eight wins, 13 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s at the mile oval. The 41-year-old driver has led 1,484 laps, has an average starting position of 15.9, an average finish of 10.0, and has completed 99.7 percent (8,715 of 8,737) of the laps he’s contested there.


· Topping the All-Time NASCAR Cup Series Win List at Phoenix: Harvick’s series-high eight career NASCAR Cup Series wins at Phoenix tops a list that shows Jimmie Johnson next-best with four career wins, followed by Davey Allison, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards and Mark Martin with two wins each.


· Winner of Six of the Last Nine at Phoenix: Harvick has won six of the last nine NASCAR Cup Series races at Phoenix and five of the last seven. He is the only driver to win four in a row. He won the November 2013 race, swept the 2014 races and won in March 2015 before ending his streak with a runner-up finish in November 2015. Johnson is the only other driver with a three-race streak at Phoenix when he won the November 2007 race and swept the 2008 races. Only five drivers have won consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races at Phoenix and Harvick is the only driver to win consecutive races twice. Harvick also swept both races in 2006. He has led 1,064 laps in his last seven races at Phoenix.


· Perfection at Phoenix: Harvick has scored a perfect 150.0 driver rating at Phoenix on three occasions. His first was in November 2006, when he started second, led 252 of 312 laps and reached victory lane. His second was in his November 2014 win, when he started third and led 264 of 312 laps. His third came in his March 2015 win, when he started first and led 224 of 312 laps.


· Career NASCAR Cup Series Totals: Harvick has 35 wins, 154 top-fives, 285 top-10s and 18 poles in 577 career Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’s Camping World 500k at Phoenix.


· Harvick the Broadcaster: Harvick will broadcast Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Phoenix, and will also be in the booth for Xfinity races April 22 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway,May 6 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and June 10 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway June 10. He is also slated to broadcast NASCAR Truck Series races April 1 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, July 21 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Oct. 13 at Talladega. He made his 2017 debut in the television booth for FOX when he called the Xfinity Series race Feb. 25 at Daytona (Fla,) International Speedway.


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