Harvick: Track Position Is Very Important At Martinsville

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing have been the class of the field since they formed prior to the start of the 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. They are likely to be fast again as they head to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Sunday’s First Data 500 and the first race in the Round of 8 of the 2018 Cup Series playoffs.

The most impressive part of the No. 4 Busch Beer team might be different than what most would expect. Since the middle of July, the team has faced adversity and has had to look to its depth to fill four roles left vacant by a varying set of circumstances.

Rear tire changer Daniel Smith, who joined the No. 4 team prior to its 2014 championship run, received a medical diagnosis in the middle of August that sidelined him for the remainder of 2018. The team turned to Michael Johnson, who came on board prior to the Aug. 18 race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and will fill the role for the remainder of the season.

Mechanic Richard Bean, a member of the No. 4 team since 2014, also was lost for the remainder of 2018 for medical reasons following the Labor Day Weekend race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Shawn Warren stepped into his role and will stay with the team for the remainder of the year.

In addition to the two teammates sidelined for medical reasons, front tire changer Shayne Pipala and tire specialist Jamie Turski also joined the No. 4 team since July. Pipala joined the No. 4 team July 18 and Turski joined Sept. 20.

Each member of a NASCAR Cup Series team plays a vital role in the performance and overall success it is able to achieve on the racetrack – and the No. 4 team is no different. While the performance on the track has continued to function at a high level with new faces, it continues to get better every week as it continues to work together for a common goal.

This week, as they head to Martinsville, Harvick and the team will have their work cut out for them. The shortest track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit has presented a challenge for the No. 4 team since 2014. The track’s 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 at least a tire mark on the door or a few dents in the sheet metal.

What makes it 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 2016, 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.

Harvick and the No. 4 team have finished fifth in their last two appearances in Martinsville and would like to continue that streak this weekend in the First Data 500. The No. 4 team has shown speed with two top-five finishes, three top-10s and 265 laps led and ranks sixth in total points over the span of his nine Martinsville starts since the start of 2014.

Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing, the current points leader entering the Round of 8, holds a one-point advantage over second-place Harvick. The No. 4 team also holds a 39-point advantage over fifth-place driver and SHR teammate Clint Bowyer for the final transfer spot.

A win this weekend at Martinsville would secure Harvick’s position in the winner-take-all, Championship 4 round at Homestead-Miami Speedway and give him a shot at his second Cup Series championship.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Where do you want to be at Martinsville to help you avoid trouble on the racetrack?

“I think the best position to be in at any racetrack is in the lead. You want to be in control of the race and try to get yourself in a position to where you can have a good, clean restart and have as much clear track, especially at Martinsville, just for the fact that there is so much pushing and shoving on the restarts to get to the bottom lane that you want to try to be as far forward as possible.”

Does winning a grandfather clock mean more to you than other trophies?

“The clock at Martinsville in pretty unique. I think, as you look at the clock and the history that comes with the clock and being represented by that particular trophy, it’s something that I like. I think some of the racetracks have boring and stale trophies and, when you go to Martinsville they’re cool clocks that represent who Martinsville is. When you go to the Daytona 500 and win the Harley J. Earl Trophy, it represents who Daytona is. When you go to some tracks and have a Plexiglas and sticker trophy, well maybe that represents some of the racetracks that we go to and some of them are the same.”

With two kids, is there more Halloween planning now?

“I feel sorry for Piper, just for the fact that her mom dresses her up like she did with Keelan, in some sort of outfit that she will probably look at the pictures and think, ‘What were you thinking when you put me in that Lion costume?’ I think she might be a dinosaur this year, so I think that’s probably unfair, but sometimes you just pick and choose the battles that you fight at home. That’s just not a battle for me. I just grin and smile and say she is probably going to hate you in 20 years.”

Busch Beer Racing Team Report

Round 33 of 36 – First Data 500 – Martinsville

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: Jamie Turski
Hometown: Trumbull, Connecticut
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: Shawn Warren and Allen Mincey
Hometown: Concord, North Carolina and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, respectively

Interior Specialist: Matt Custer

Hometown: Bedford, Pennsylvania

Chassis No. 4-843:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-843 in the First Data 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Built in 2014, Chassis No. 4-843 won two races, two pole positions and led 748 laps in its first season. Harvick won the pole and led 238 laps en route to winning the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. At Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Harvick won the pole, led 223 laps and finished 13th. The final race of 2014 for Chassis No. 4-843 was perhaps the most impressive as it started third and led 264 laps en route to the win at ISM Raceway near Phoenix in November. In its three starts of 2015, Harvick started and finished second and led 116 of 325 laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and started eighth, led 26 laps and finished ninth in the Coca-Cola 600. At Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Harvick started second, led three laps and finished 42nd after an engine failure. Its final appearance before 2018 came at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in September 2015, where Harvick finished 14th. Since 2015, chassis 4-843 served as a backup 18 times, before returning to action in 2018 at Martinsville, where Harvick started eighth and finished fifth.

 

Martinville 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, a victory in 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 8,341 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 12,773 laps led in642 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 Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Sunday’s First Data 500 second in points with 4,054, one behind leader Busch, and is now 39 points ahead of fifth-place Clint Bowyer entering Sunday’s first race in the Round of 8 of the 2018 Cup Series playoffs.

 

· Martinsville Numerology – Harvick has one win, five top-threes, 16 top-10s and has led a total of 628 laps in his 34 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville. His average start is 14.3, his average finish is 15.5 and he has a lap completion rate of 98.0 percent, completing 16,696 of the 17,039 laps available.

 

· 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 10 times this season. The most recent came Oct. 21 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. He has started in the top-10 in 24 of the 32 NASCAR Cup Series races this season. Harvick scored his first Busch Pole Award of the year at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway with a lap of 49.247 seconds at 194.448 mph. He scored his second pole of the season at Kansas 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. 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 Kenseth as the only active drivers to accomplish that feat. Harvick’s laps-led total since 2014 is 8,347, which is 3,885 laps more than the total from his 13 previous seasons before joining SHR (2001 to 2013). Harvick has already led a series-best 1,682 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 (Del.) International Speedway, Kansas, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, and Michigan. He ranks second in the Cup Series in playoff points with 54. 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, two at Dover in October, one at Talladega in October, one at Kansas in October (total of 14). 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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