Harvick And The Clash Of The Titans

Kevin Harvick

Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be one for the ages – a true clash of the titans.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is part of what might be the toughest Championship 4 field since the start of the elimination-style playoff format in 2014. That year’s NASCAR Cup Series champion is joined by 2015 champion Kyle Busch, 2016 runner-up Joey Logano and 2017 champion Martin Truex Jr., in a one-race shootout where the highest finisher among the four is crowned the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion.

Harvick and Busch both have four appearances in the Championship 4 at Homestead since 2014, while Truex and Logano are both making their third appearances. In total, the 2018 edition of the Championship 4 have accounted for 22 wins, 13 poles, 80 top-five finishes, 100 top-10s and 5,230 laps led through this year’s 35 points-paying races.

What should make it more interesting is the Championship 4 drivers’ combined resume on 1.5-mile racetracks in 2018. In the 10 Cup Series events on 1.5-mile layouts, the Championship 4 occupy the top four positions in points scored. They’ve combined for eight wins, five Busch Poles, 24 top-fives, 34 top 10s and have led a combined 1,978 laps led on 1.5-mile ovals.

Amazingly enough, Championship 4 drivers finished 1-2 in four of the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2018. At Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, Harvick and Busch finished first and second; at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Busch got the better of Harvick; at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City in May, Harvick finished first while Truex was the runner-up; and Busch got the better of Truex in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway the last weekend in May.

Harvick ranks first with four wins and 867 laps led in those 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2018. He’s also second with seven top-five finishes and a 7.1 average starting position.

The No. 4 Jimmy John’s team has set the standard for high performance since its inception in 2014. The 2018 season proved no different as it is tied with Busch and the No. 18 team for a series-best eight points-paying wins. It also leads the Cup Series with a 115.2 driver rating, 22 top-fives, 28 top-10s, 18 stage wins, 51 playoff points, 1,932 laps led, 2,869.12 miles led, 1,258 fastest laps and an 8.236 average running position. The team ranks second with an average starting position of 8.7, average finishing position of 9.0, has 8,398 laps in the top-15 and is tied for second with four Busch Pole Awards.

Harvick is also attempting to claim Ford’s first NASCAR Cup Series championship since SHR teammate Kurt Busch hoisted the Cup in 2004 while a member of Roush Fenway Racing. The Bakersfield, California native is also trying to become just the 16th driver in NASCAR history to win two or more Cup Series championships in a career and attempting to become the first driver since SHR co-owner Tony Stewart to win a NASCAR Cup Series title with two different manufacturers.

Harvick is attempting to make history and become the first NASCAR driver to win multiple Cup Series and Xfinity Series titles. In addition to his 2014 Cup Series title, Harvick won the Xfinity Series championship in 2001 and 2006.

What makes Harvick’s history in the playoffs even more impressive is his eight wins in NASCAR Cup Series playoff races since 2014, tying him with Kyle Busch for the most since the inception of the format. No team and driver have performed better in must-win situations since 2014, and this Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 is the ultimate must-win situation with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title on the line.

The Championship 4 at Homestead is set to become a battle for the ages, which is good since Harvick has age and experience on his side.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Describe the emotion, hype and adrenaline before the championship race in Miami? Is there anything outside of NASCAR that you can compare that to?

“That’s a tough comparison because I’ve never been in that position in any other sport. The thing I can tell you about Homestead is, for me, from a mental standpoint, there’s nothing about it that’s the same. You have mandatory press conferences, mandatory appearances, every sponsor, friend and everything else that comes along with that. There is just way more to manage before the race. From a mental standpoint, you have to be prepared to do things differently than you’ve done all year because that’s the type of situation you’re in. Throw all that aside and then go into the race knowing you’re probably going to need to win the race to win the championship, because that’s what’s happened the last few years. We’ve seen the champion go out and win the race. You have to be in an ‘I have to win’ mindset and prepare for everything outside of the normal.”


What kind of driver does it take to win a NASCAR championship?

“I don’t know that it is the driver. I think it’s the team because you can’t drive a slow car fast. You have to have everything put together on one particular day. Homestead is a track that is fairly unique to a lot of the other mile-and-a-half racetracks we go to. There is really nothing about that weekend at Homestead that is the same just because of the fact everything is different. The track is different. The amount of people is different. The weekend is a championship-winning scenario. You know that you need to go out and win.”


What is it like knowing at the end of a race that the championship is right there for the taking?

“The year I won, we went through so many ups and downs and I really think 2014 was a good training ground for us from a mental standpoint, because we went through so many highs and lows and ‘must-win’ situations. We were 12th with 10 or 12 laps to go in that race, wound up pitting and being on the offensive.  It was definitely a scenario where your heart rate and intensity were up and you know you’re going to have to go out and get it to make it happen and be on the offense to go forward and get back to the front. There are a lot of things that get me excited, but I don’t think there is anything that gets me more excited than being behind and winning a race late.”

Jimmy John’s Racing Team Report

Round 36 of 36 – Ford EcoBoost 400 – Homestead-Miami 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: Tony Gibson
Hometown: Daytona Beach, Florida
Car Chief: Nick DeFazio
Hometown: Orange, California
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: Chris McMullen
Hometown: Canton, Michigan
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. 4-1038:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 1038 in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Built new in 2017, Chassis No. 4-1038 made its NASCAR Cup Series debut in April at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Harvick won the pole with a lap of 27.217 seconds at 198.405 mph. He went on to lead 77 laps and secure a fourth-place finish. In its next start at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in June, Harvick started 18th and finished ninth. At Darlington, Harvick won the pole with a lap of 27.669 seconds at 177.730 mph. He went on to lead 22 laps and scored a ninth-place result, finishing the race one lap down. At the fall Dover race, Harvick started ninth and finished 17th. In its final start of 2017, Harvick started third, led 38 laps en route to his first-ever Cup Series win at Texas, where he beat 2017 champion Martin Truex Jr., by 1.580 seconds. In its first start of 2018, Harvick dominated at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he started third and led 181 of the 325-lap event and crossed the finish line 2.690 seconds ahead of runner-up Brad Keselowski. In the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May, Harvick started 39th and raced up to 11th before cutting a tire and finishing 40th. In its most recent appearance, Harvick started 22nd and finished fourth in the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Homestead-Miami Speedway 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 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2014, Harvick and Childers have combined to produce 22 points-paying victories, a victory in the non-points-paying 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, 19 poles, 90 top-five finishes and 126 top-10s while leading 8,597 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 four times in the last five years – including the current season – since the current championship format was introduced. Harvick won the championship in 2014.


Harvick has career totals of 45 wins, 25 poles, 190 top-fives, 335 top-10s and 13,023 laps led in645 starts.

His most recent Cup Series win came at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (Nov. 4, 2018).

His last Busch Pole came at ISM Raceway near Phoenix (Nov. 9, 2018).


Championship 4: Harvick makes his fourth appearance in the Championship 4 since its inception in 2014. He is tied with fellow Championship 4 driver Busch for the most appearances in the Championship 4 since 2014. Harvick (2014) and Busch (2015) and Martin Truex Jr. (2017) have raced to a championship in the current format. Truex and Joey Logano are each making their third appearance since 2014. The Championship 4 drivers have combined to score 22 wins, 13 poles, 74 top-five finishes, 100 top-10s and lead 5,230 laps.


Homestead-Miami Numerology: Harvick has one win, one pole, nine top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and has led a total of 315 laps in his 17 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His average start is 12.4, his average finish is 6.8 and he has a lap-completion rate of 99.9 percent – 4,544 of 4,545 laps available. Harvick’s 6.8 average finish ranks as his best at any track in the NASCAR Cup Series and his 12.4 average starting position ranks second among Cup Series tracks. He has an average starting position of 9.5 at Homestead.


Harvick At Homestead Since Joining SHR: In four Cup Series starts at Homestead since joining SHR at the beginning of 2014, Harvick ranks first with a 2.5 average finish, top-five finishes with four, is tied for first in wins with one and top-10 finishes with four. He ranks second in total points with 157, one Busch Pole Award and 179 laps led. He also ranks fourth with an average starting position of 7.0, five wins, a runner-up finish, eight top-five finishes, nine top-10s, 1,032 laps led, a Busch Pole and an average finish of 2.4. He ranks fifth in average starting position at 9.8 among drivers who have started every race during that time.


Uncharted Territory With Eight Points-Paying Wins for No. 4: Harvick’s eight 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 wins, 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.


Freaky Fast Busch Pole Qualifier: Harvick has started on the front row 11 times this season. The most recent came Nov. 11 at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. He has started in the top-10 in 26 of the 35 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 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 (Va.) International Raceway in September with a lap of 22.153 seconds at 121.880 mph. He scored his most recent Busch Pole last weekend at ISM Raceway where he recorded a time of 25.836 seconds at 139.340 mph. Harvick’s four Busch Pole Awards is tied for the second most in a single season in his 18-year Cup Series career. He scored eight Busch Pole Awards in 2014 and four Busch Pole Awards in 2017.


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, 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 13,000th lap in NASCAR Cup Series competition Nov. 11 at Phoenix. He is one of only 12 drivers to lead 13,000 laps in his Cup Series career. He joins Jimmie Johnson and Busch as the only active drivers to accomplish that feat. Harvick’s laps-led total since 2014 is 8,597, which is 4,135 laps more than the total from his 13 previous seasons before joining SHR (2001 to 2013). Harvick has already led a series-best 1,932 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.


Make Your Mark – With his win two weeks ago at Texas, Harvick surpassed Bill Elliott and is now in sole possession of 17th on the all-time win list and he now sits just one win behind Buck Baker’s 46 for 16th on the all-time wins list. Among active drivers, Harvick’s 45 career wins rank third behind only series leader Johnson’s 83 and Busch’s 49 wins.


106 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 106 total victories after his most recent Cup Series win at Texas – 45 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.


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