Harvick: Plate Racing Is Aggressive Racing

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for Sunday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race with breathing room in the point standings to make a calculated risk and go for the win.

Harvick kicked off the Round of 12 of this year’s Cup Series playoffs on “The Monster Mile” at Dover (Del.) International Speedway last weekend with a dominant performance that included two stage wins, 286 laps led, and the points lead after his sixth-place finish.

The No. 4 Jimmy John’s team now has a 68-point lead for the final transfer position to the next round with two races remaining in the Round of 12. The most points a driver can score in a single race is 60, which means Harvick has breathing room to go for stage wins and the race win this weekend.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion’s lone Cup Series win at Talladega came in April 2010, when he started fourth and beat runner-up Jamie McMurray by .011 of a second – one of the closest finishes in series history.

While Harvick has just one win at Talladega, it has also proven to be a challenge for the team in recent years. He has scored one top-five finish, five top-10s and led 58 laps in his last nine races there since joining SHR.

The good news for Harvick and the No. 4 team is that their most recent trip to the 2.66-mile superspeedway last April was their most successful as a group. The team scored the Busch Pole Award with a lap of 49.247 seconds at 194.448 mph, led 12 laps and finished fourth.

In addition to his solid performance at Talladega in April, Harvick and the No. 4 team continue to be the class of the field during the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series campaign, leading the series with seven wins, 20 top-five finishes, 25 top-10s, and 1,560 laps led. They also rank second with an 8.6 average finish and are tied for third with three Busch Pole Awards.

A win at Talladega would mean he automatically qualifies for the Round of 8, but additional stage wins and race wins mean extra playoff points as he progresses through the playoffs. In addition to his strong performance at Talladega in April, Harvick also performed well at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City earlier this year, the site of next week’s final race in the Round of 12, when he won from the Busch Pole position and led 79 laps.

For the No. 4 team, the focus this weekend is on starting up front, leading laps, winning stages and winning the race – but the big-picture goal remains advancing to the next round of the Cup Series playoffs and winning a second championship. The quickest way to reach that goal is to win this weekend at Talladega.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
What do you need to do at Talladega to beat the Penske cars there?

“I don’t know why they’re good other than we get to experience a lot of the same things with a fast car and the effort that Doug Yates and his team put in from an engine standpoint. Obviously, Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano) have done really well there over the last couple of years and executing with the equipment and the things that they’ve had to put themselves in victory lane. They’ve definitely capitalized on what I would consider the best cars at superspeedways, and those would be the Fords.”

Describe the intensity of restrictor-plate racing?

“Plate racing is something you have to be aggressive at just for the fact that, if you’re not aggressive, it always seems like you are not going to be where you need to be. Nine times out of 10, I believe, the aggressor is going to be the guy who comes out on the good side of things just for the fact that you’re making things happen and you’re not waiting for something else to happen. When you wait for something else to happen, that’s usually when you get in trouble because it’s usually someone else’s mess. You can still get in trouble if you’re aggressive but, it seems like, with this rules package and the way things are, it’s best to stay aggressive and try to stay up front.”

Jimmy John’s Racing Team Report

Round 31 of 36 – 1000Bulbs.com 500 – Talladega

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. 4-008:
Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-008 in the 1000Bulbs.com 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The chassis is new to the fleet in 2018 and made its Cup Series debut at Talladega in April, where Harvick won the Busch Pole Award, led 12 laps and finished fourth.
Talladega 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 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 123 top-10s while leading 8,225 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, 332 top-10s and 12,651 laps led in641 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 (Sept. 21, 2018).

· On Point – Harvick arrives at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 first in points with 3,101 and is now 68 ahead of ninth-place Aric Almirola entering Sunday’s second race in the Round of 12 of the 2018 Cup Series playoffs.

 

· Talladega Numerology – Harvick will make his 36th NASCAR Cup Series start Sunday at Talladega. He has one win, two poles, seven top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and has led 214 laps. He scored his lone win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway in April 2010, when he started fourth, led two of 200 laps and beat runner-up Jamie McMurray by .011 of a second. Harvick earned his first Cup Series pole at Talladega in May 2005 with a speed of 189.804 mph. He won his second Cup Series pole in April 2018, when he recorded a lap of 49.247 seconds at 194.448 mph.Harvick has three career Cup Series runner-up finishes at Talladega, most recently in October 2010, when he started 14th, led 12 laps and finished runner-up to Clint Bowyer.

 

· 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 nine times this season. The most recent came Oct. 7 at Dover, when a heavy mist cancelled Cup Series qualifying and the field was set according to the NASCAR Rule Book. He has started in the top-10 in 22 of the 30 NASCAR Cup Series races this season. Harvick scored his first Busch Pole Award of the year at Talladega with a lap of 49.247 seconds at 194.448 mph. He scored his second pole of the season at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City with a lap of 28.600 seconds at 188.811 mph. He scored his third Busch Pole of the season at Richmond in September with a lap of 22.153 seconds at 121.880 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 8,189, which is 3,763 laps more than the total from his 13 previous seasons before joining SHR (2001 to 2013). Harvick has already led a series-best 1,560 laps in 2018 and has now surpassed 1,000 laps led in a season for the fourth time and 1,500 laps led in a season for the third time in his career.

 

· Playoff Qualifier – Harvick qualified for the 2018 NASCAR playoffs with his wins at Atlanta, Phoenix, Dover, Kansas, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, and Michigan. He ranks second in the Cup Series in playoff points with 52. 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, two at Michigan in August and two at Dover in October (total of 12). 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.

 

· Harvick the Broadcaster: Harvick will make his final appearance in the FOX television booth as a guest race analyst for the 2018 season during Camping World Truck Series race on Oct. 13 from Talladega. He has appeared in the FOX booth for two Xfinity Series races – Richmond and Talladega in April. He also appeared in the booth for Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio in July and Bristol Motor Speedway in August.

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

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