Kevin Harvick Is Starting Off The Playoffs “Freaky Fresh”

Kevin Harvick & Trevor Bayne

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is starting fresh with a new-look point system and rebranded NASCAR Playoff format following the 26-race regular season. The 2017 NASCAR Playoffs kick off Sunday afternoon with the Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.

Luckily for Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), his primary partner, Jimmy John’s, always starts “Freaky Fresh” when making its sandwiches and knows what it takes to deliver in “Freaky Fast” fashion.

Jimmy John’s, founded in 1983 by then-19-year-old Jimmy John Liautaud approximately 163 miles from Chicagoland Speedway in Charleston, Illinois, serves up ridiculously fresh sandwiches quicker than he can say “Turkey Tom,” a customer favorite which, ironically, is No. 4 on the menu. Jimmy John’s is all about the freshest ingredients, the fastest service and “Freaky Fast” delivery. While most people are more than impressed with the freaky fresh quality of Jimmy John’s sandwiches, it’s the speed with which they are prepared and delivered that really puts the Champaign, Illinois-based chain ahead of the rest.

Harvick is hoping to use the same principles to deliver a freaky fresh and freaky fast win early in each round of the 10-race playoffs to help him advance to the final four and add to his 2014 NASCAR Cup championship.

Harvick qualified for the 10-race playoff by virtue of his win at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June. He earned five playoff points for the win and gathered an additional three stage wins and a fourth-place overall finish in the points during the regular season. The 15 total playoff points enable Harvick to start the 2017 playoffs as the sixth seed.

This is his eighth consecutive playoff appearance and his 11th since the inception of the playoffs in 2004. He finished fourth in his playoff debut in 2006, 10th in 2007, fourth in 2008, third in 2010 and 2011, eighth in 2012, third in 2013, won his first NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2014, finished runner-up to champion Kyle Busch in 2015 and sixth in 2016.

Harvick already has two Cup Series wins at Chicagoland and three wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series there. He won the inaugural Cup Series race on July 15, 2001, and made it back-to-back Chicagoland wins as he reached victory lane again on July 14, 2002. His three Xfinity Series wins came in September 2005, July 2007 and September 2014.

The No. 4 Jimmy John’s team is hoping it can continue its approach of winning early and applying it all the way through the 2017 playoffs. Race wins, stage wins and playoff points are the only way to reach the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where the 2017 champion will be crowned.

Harvick is looking to ride his “Freaky Fresh” and “Freaky Fast” Jimmy John’s Ford all the way to a second NASCAR Cup Series championship.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Do you change anything in your preparation or in your own life to prepare for those final 10 weeks?

“My attitude. My attitude changes a lot. It’s all offense. Be greedy for your team. Do what you have to do.”

We’ve come to the end of the regular season. What are you anticipating most as the playoffs get under way?

“For those of us who are in the playoffs, I think the anticipation of the whole season getting to this point and being able to race for a championship and do the things we’re going to do are all here. For me, it seems like it took a long time to get to this point – 26 weeks is a long time. We’ll race as hard as we can and get after it.”

Can you approach this year similar to years past?

“I don’t think so. I think there are still a lot of things left to play out. As you look at this particular playoff point structure, you are going to have to collect stage points. If you look at the stage points, they basically line up to how the points are right now. I think you’re going to have to go after those stage points and stage wins will gain you some more bonus points, but those bonus points that you’ve already accumulated carry over to every round. I don’t think we all understand exactly how that is going to play out. I think everybody is anticipating that you have two or three guys with more points. Are those going to be the guys who go all the way to Homestead-Miami? If it works out that way, is it really a playoff structure? Does it give everybody a chance? I like the structure that we have with the points and the things we’ve done currently, but sometimes you have to step back as a fan and say, ‘Is that right or is that wrong?’ We don’t know yet because it hasn’t all played out. Is it going to be exciting? Most likely. Is it going to play out how everybody thinks it’s going to with the playoff points from those guys, or are there going to be teams that step up and win races and put everybody in a position where they have to perform and those points will become even that much more important? It’s going to be interesting and I look forward to watching it play out.”

Jimmy John’s Racing Team Report

Round 27 of 36 – Tales of the Turtles 400 – Chicagoland

At-Track PR Contact: Ryan Barry, True Speed Communication (704-500-1553, Ryan.Barry@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)
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 Kuebler

Hometowns: Gibsonville, North Carolina, and Saline, Michigan,respectively

 

Mechanics: Richie Bean and Allen Mincey

Hometown: Bradford, Vermont, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida,respectively

 

Fuel Runner: Chris Clayton

Hometown: Modesto, California

Chassis Information – Chassis No. 4-004:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-004 in the Tales of the Turtles 400 Saturday night at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. Built new in 2017, Chassis No. 4-004 made its debut in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, where it started third and finished sixth. It’s most recent appearance came in July at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, where Harvick started seventh and finished ninth.
Chicagoland Speedway Notes of Interest:
· Earning It Since 2014: Harvick is in his 17th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and his fourth at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with crew chief Rodney Childers at the helm. Since joining forces in 2014, Harvick and Childers combined to produce 13 victories, 14 poles, 62 top-five finishes and 91 top-10s; led 6,382 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 Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois for the Tales of the Turtles 400 seeded sixth in the standings with 2,015 points after his 15th-place finish at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. He trails leader Martin Truex Jr. by 38 points.

 

·Playoff Bound: Harvick clinched his position in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs as he scored his first Cup Series win of the season at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June. He started 12th, led 24 laps and had more than a five-second cushion when the final yellow flag waved to end the race under caution.Harvick and the No. 4 team scored one race win and three stage wins to account for eight playoff points and finished fourth in regular season points to pick up an additional seven points to earn the sixth seed for the 2017 playoffs.

 

· Harvick in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Chicagoland: The Tales of the Turtles 400 will mark Harvick’s 17th career Cup Series start at Chicagoland. Harvick has two wins (July 2001 and 2002), eight top-five finishes and nine top-10s at the 1.5-mile oval. He has led 373 laps, has an average starting position of 16.2, an average finish of 12.2, and has completed 98.2 percent (4,202 of 4,278) of the laps he’s contested there.

 

· On The Pole: Harvick has scored four Cup Series pole awards in 2017 – three coming on 1.5-mile racetracks. He scored his first of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a lap of 29.118 seconds at 190.398 mph. His second of the season came at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, when he made a lap at 27.217 seconds at 198.405 mph. His third came at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 with a lap of 27.918 seconds at 193.424 mph. The most recent came last weekend at Darlington when he posted a lap of 27.669 seconds at 177.730 mph.

 

· Closing In on 11,000 Lap Led: Harvick also needs 192 laps led to become the 17th Cup Series driver of all time to lead 11,000 or more laps. Johnson, Kyle Busch and Kenseth are the only active drivers to accomplish the feat.

 

· Career NASCAR Cup Series Totals: Harvick has 36 wins, 162 top-fives, 300 top-10s and 21 poles in 600 career Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’s race at Chicagoland.

 

· Personal Announcement: On Tuesday, July 11, Harvick kicked off his SiriusXM Radio show “Happy Hours” by announcing that he and wife DeLana are expecting to add a daughter to their family around the first of the year.

 

· Harvick’s Happy Hours on SiriusXM Radio: On March 14, Harvick announced that he will hostHappy Hours on SiriusXM Radio. The show debuted March 28 and airs every Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. ET, featuring Harvick’s distinctive perspective on his 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.

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

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