Harvick: The Whole Race Track Will Be Treacherous

Kevin Harvick

 The punk-rock band Green Day released a song titled “Wake Me Up When September Ends” as part of its 2004 album American Idiot. While the song was released in 2004, it may never be as timely or relevant as it is right now for Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Jimmy John’s new 9-Grain Wheat Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) as they head to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race – the final event in the Round of 16 and first cutoff race of the 2018 NASCAR playoffs.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion is the series leader with seven points-paying wins, 20 top-five finishes, 23 top-10s, 1,274 laps led.

However, his bid for a second NASCAR Cup Series championship got off to a rough start after cutting a right-front tire in the playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that led to him retiring from the race early with a 38th-place finish. Harvick and the team rebounded strongly with a runner-up finish Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) Raceway to all but secure his advancement into the Round of 12.

He is now third in the playoff standings with 2,113 points, 57 ahead of the final transfer position and will clinch his position in the Round of 12 by just starting the race at Charlotte. That’s good news for Harvick and the No. 4 team as they enter the first elimination race of the playoffs. But there’s a huge unknown to contend with this weekend – the 2.28-mile, 17-turn road course and oval hybrid known as the “roval” at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Harvick now will race at Charlotte for playoff points by way of stage wins and a race win. Fortunately, he knows his way around both road courses and 1.5-mile ovals.

The Bakersfield, California, native is one of only three active drivers to claim a NASCAR Cup Series victory at both Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are the others to make that claim. Harvick added his first career win at Sonoma in June 2017, when he started 12th, led 24 laps and finished ahead of SHR teammate Clint Bowyer when the race ended under caution. He also won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma the day before.

Harvick’s lone Cup Series victory at Watkins Glen came in 2006, when he started seventh and led 28 of 90 laps and beat current SHR co-owner Tony Stewart to the finish line by .892 of a second.

The driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s new 9-Grain Wheat Ford Fusion has age and experience on his side.

Five of the past seven champions have been 37 years of age or older when they captured the Cup Series title and his Freaky Fast team is just fueling up for the fight to the finish as the team tries for its second championship.

While being Freaky Fast is nothing new to Jimmy John’s employees or Harvick’s Jimmy John’s crew, they are celebrating the arrival of something new – the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub. It marks the first time Jimmy John’s has added a new bread to its lineup in more than 20 years.

The new 9-Grain Wheat Sub features a delicious blend of wheat, rye, flaxseed, quinoa, millet, oats, barley, amaranth and spelt, as well as honey, coconut and molasses. It is available with any Jimmy John’s sandwich at no extra charge.

Like the traditional French bread, the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub will be freshly baked in-store every day. It is the latest in a series of products that Jimmy John’s has rolled out this year as a part of the Freak Yeah campaign, including the popular Kickin’ Ranch®, the 16-inch Giant Sandwich and a sliced version of Jimmy John’s World-Famous Pickles, all of which can be applied to the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub.

The No. 4 team will be playoff point racing at the roval – trying to win at all costs. Otherwise, it’s wake me up when September ends.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
What will be the best places to pass and the most treacherous parts of the new roval track at Charlotte?

“I think the treacherous part of the course is the whole course. I don’t think there is really a safe spot on the course. As far as where you are going to pass, I don’t know that answer, either. I think there are so many unknowns about the course until we actually go do it and see what happens. Obviously, everyone is a little unsure of what you need to do, where you can pass and what the strategy will be. Who knows what will happen if it rains. There are just a number of unknowns that come from the roval that I don’t have an answer for.”

Will it be nervous time for those drivers who are not locked into the Round of 12?

“I’m glad it’s in the first round. I’m glad that we had a good regular season. There are no guarantees, but having some extra points should help. You don’t want to go in having to win at the roval – I can promise you that.”

What’s it like having all four Stewart-Haas Racing cars in the NASCAR playoffs for the first time?

“That’s a great accomplishment for Stewart-Haas Racing and all the guys and girls back at the shop who put the cars together. I think it really shows the effort and the chemistry of everything that we have going on at the organization, not even two years into a manufacturer change. Aric (Almirola) being there for one year and Clint (Bowyer) being there for two years. There are new crew chiefs and a lot of things that have changed, but I think you see the evolution of things getting better and really from an organization standpoint. When you start seeing the results of all four cars, that’s when you know that the processes and the things that you’re doing are working well.”

Jimmy John’s Racing Team Report

Round 29 of 36 – Bank of America Roval 400 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

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: Shayne Pipala
Hometown: Frankfort Square, Illinois
Rear Tire Changer: Michael Johnson
Hometown: Andover, New York
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. 4-1034:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-1034 in the Bank of America Roval 400 Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Built new in 2017, Chassis No. 4-1034 made its debut at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June, when it started 12th and led 24 laps en route to the victory over SHR teammate Clint Bowyer as the race ended under caution. At Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in August 2017, Harvick started 20th and finished 17th. In its most recent start at Sonoma in June 2018, Harvick started sixth, led 35 laps and finished runner-up to Martin Truex Jr.
Charlotte Notes of Interest:
· 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 21 points-paying victories, the non-points-paying 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, 18 poles, 88 top-five finishes and 121 top-10s while leading 7,939 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 44 wins, 24 poles, 188 top-fives, 330 top-10s and 12,365 laps led in639 starts.

  • His most recent Cup Series win came at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (Aug. 12, 2018).
  • His last Busch Pole came at Richmond (Va.) Raceway (September 21, 2018).

· On Point – Harvick arrives at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America Roval 400 third in points with 2,113 and is now 57 points ahead of 13th-place Clint Bowyer with only one race remaining in the opening round of the 2018 Cup Series playoffs.

 

· Jimmy John’s New 9-Grain Wheat Sub Back at Charlotte: This weekend, the No. 4 Jimmy John’s new 9-Grain Wheat Sub Ford Fusion features a brand-new product from the Illinois-based sandwich shop. The arrival of the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub marks the first time Jimmy John’s has added new bread to its lineup in more than 20 years. The No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion will feature the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub on the rear quarter panels in place of its standard “Freaky Fast” tagline. The new 9-Grain Wheat Sub features a delicious blend of wheat, rye, flaxseed, quinoa, millet, oats, barley, amaranth and spelt, as well as honey, coconut and molasses. It is available with any Jimmy John’s sandwich at no extra charge.

 

· Roval Numerology – The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is making its debut on the roval at Charlotte this weekend. In 36 combined Cup Series races on the Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road courses, Harvick has scored two wins, nine top-five finishes, 18 top-10s and led 161 laps. He is one of just three drivers to win at both Sonoma and Watkins Glen, joining Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. as the only drivers to complete the feat.

 

· Uncharted Territory With Seven Points-Paying Wins for No. 4 – Harvick’s seven points-paying wins in 2018 is a new single-season best for the 18-year Cup Series veteran. His previous high-water mark was five races, accomplished first in 2006 and again 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 for the second time in his career. Harvick’s series-best seven wins in 2018 is tied with Busch, who scored his seventh win of the season at Richmond in September.

 

· Freaky Fast Busch Pole Qualifier – Harvick has started on the front row eight times this season. The most recent came Sept. 22 at Richmond, where he won the pole with a lap of 22.153 seconds at 121.880 mph. He has started in the top-10 in 21 of the 28 NASCAR Cup Series races this season. Harvick scored his first Busch Pole Award 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.

 

· 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 consecutive races this season – April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, April 16 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, and April 21 at Richmond. Brad Keselowski also joined the group with his most recent wins at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Las Vegas. This marks the first time in NASCAR history that three different drivers have won three straight races in the same season.

 

· Lap Leader –Harvick led his 12,000th lap in NASCAR Cup Series competition June 3 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. He is one of only 15 drivers to lead 12,000 laps in his Cup Series career. He joins Johnson, Busch and Matt Kenseth as the only active drivers to accomplish that feat. Harvick’s laps-led total since 2014 is 7,903, which is 3,477 laps more than the total from his 13 previous seasons before joining SHR (2001 to 2013). Harvick has already led a series-best 1,274 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.

 

· Playoff Qualifier – Harvick qualified for the 2018 NASCAR playoffs with his wins at Atlanta, Phoenix, Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Kansas, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, and Michigan. He leads the Cup series in playoff points with 50. He gained 10 playoff points for finishing the 26-race regular season in second, five playoff points for each race win at Atlanta, Phoenix, Dover, Kansas, New Hampshire and Michigan, and an additional point for each of his stage wins at Atlanta, Texas, two at Dover in May, Pocono in June, Michigan in June, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, Pocono in August and two at Michigan in August (total of 10). The team’s race win at Las Vegas does not count toward its playoff qualification due to a post-race penalty.

 

· Make Your Mark – With his win Aug. 12 at Michigan, Harvick is now tied with Bill Elliott at 17th on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series win list. Harvick’s next win would move him into sole possession of 17th on the all-time list and he now sits just two wins behind Buck Baker’s 46 for 16th on the all-time wins list. Among active drivers, Harvick’s 44 career wins rank third behind only series leader Johnson’s 83 and Busch’s 49 wins.

 

· 105 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 105 total victories after his most recent Cup Series win at Michigan – 44 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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