|Let’s face it, Las Vegas is all about luck. If one vacations out in the desert, that person could win $1 million, or perhaps lose some money at one of the many casinos on Las Vegas Boulevard. |
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, knows about Vegas luck. Just look back on his 2018 visits to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In the spring race, after starting second, he dominated by leading 214 of 267 laps and won by 2.906 seconds over second-place Kyle Busch. Some would say he was freaky fast.
But in the fall race, Harvick started fifth and led 14 laps before cutting a tire, leading to contact with the turn-one wall and a disappointing 39th-place finish.
One day people can have all the luck and, the next day, none. That’s the story of Las Vegas.
Harvick will again play with a different set of rules in Sunday’s Las Vegas 400.
For last week’s race at Atlanta, NASCAR officials introduced a new rules package announced last October. The new and different packages are tailored to the specific tracks on the Cup Series circuit, with a combination of a smaller tapered spacer to reduce engine horsepower to a target goal of 550 – from 750 – and aero ducts to foster tighter racing on a majority of speedways measuring longer than 1 mile. Both features are in place for 17 of the 36 races, the lone exception being the Daytona 500, which ran with traditional restrictor-plate rules. Atlanta, along with four other races, were set to run with the smaller spacer, but without ducts.
Las Vegas will be the first true test of the entire new rules package, including the ducts. So, will Harvick be able to lead 214 laps again? Who knows?
But he’s has been strong at the 1.5-mile oval.
The Las Vegas 400 will mark Harvick’s 20th career Cup Series start at Las Vegas. He won in 2015 in addition to last spring’s victory, and he has five top-five finishes and eight top-10s there with 452 laps led.
He’s also competed in NASCAR Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series races there, as well. In 11 Xfinity Series starts at Las Vegas, Harvick has two wins, one pole, six top-five finishes, seven top-10s and he’s led 364 laps.
Harvick’s first Xfinity Series win at Las Vegas came in 2004, when he started 11th and led 14 laps, and his second in 2010, when he started second and led 82 laps. His lone Xfinity Series pole position came in 2007, when he ran 181.111 mph.
In his three Truck Series starts at Las Vegas in 1997, 1998 and 1999, Harvick has an eighth-place finish in 1997 and ninth in 1999.
No one really knows what is going to happen at Las Vegas with the new rules package this weekend, but that’s fitting for the city. One thing for certain, however, is that the winner will need a little luck.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You were in the broadcast booth last week for the Xfinity Series race at Atlanta and are again this week in Las Vegas. How do you prepare for the broadcasts?
“I usually over-prepare and usually wind up using nothing. But, it’s good to have those thoughts. Usually what happens is, if you over-prepare, the story and narrative is totally different by the time you get to the racetrack because of something that happened the week before, during the week or on the race weekend during practice. So I’ve learned to let it kind of evolve into the weekend and understand and watch and that is something that you’re going to do as a competitor, anyway – especially when the Xfinity cars are at the same racetrack. So there is a level of preparation. I think that, for me, I like to be prepared. I like to know who I’m talking about and not show up unprepared. It would be more nerve-racking for me than anything just because I wouldn’t be comfortable talking about the things that I need to be talking about. So, usually if I can come prepared, I can have enough in my mind to make it through the day. But a lot of times the story tells itself.”
You had Jimmie Johnson on your radio show last week. How was that interview?
“It was great because, in my opinion, Jimmie is one of the most disrespected great drivers who has ever come through this garage. Jimmie Johnson is just a good, old-fashioned, great guy. He helps people and has done great things in the garage and in a racecar, out of a racecar, and sometimes I feel like we forget that he has won seven championships and all the races that he has won and all the great things he has done. It isn’t like he came from a rich daddy or family that had a lot of money. He came all the way up from the bottom to the top and worked hard and had a lot of success and has won as many championships as Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty. I never feel like he is on that pedestal next to those guys appropriately. Sometimes as a group, from a fan standpoint, you are just letting it go by and not even realizing that you are watching one of the greatest careers that will ever come through the garage. So, we talked about the basic things. Where did you start? How did you start? How did you get here? Because I feel like a lot of times the fan base changes so much from the majority of our fan base that you almost have to re-introduce yourself every five or six years. Once you hear the Jimmie Johnson story and how he got to where he is, a lot of people know what he has done here, but it isn’t like it was handed to him. Our goal was to do something different and I don’t want the fans to not realize what they are watching with Jimmie because he has done so many great things, is such a great person, and a fun guy. He gets a knock for not being super fun, for being a buttoned up, tight-laced guy. That couldn’t be further from the truth actually, more so than anybody could understand. We only had 20 minutes. It isn’t easy to explain all those things in 20 minutes, but I feel like we touched on those things and it is fun to hear guys talk about stuff like that.
”Jimmy John’s Racing Team ReportRound 3 of 36 – Las Vegas 400
Las Vegas Car No.: 4
Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang PR Contact:
Joe Crowley, True Speed Communication (704) 875-3388 ext. 808 or Joe.Crowley@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: Mooresville, North Carolina
Engine Specialist: Robert Brandt
Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
Spotter: Tim Fedewa
Hometown: Holt, Michigan
Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Front Tire Changer: Shayne Pipala
Hometown: Frankfort Square, Illinois
Rear Tire Changer: Daniel Smith
Hometown: Concord, North Carolina
Tire Carrier: Mike “Shrek” Morneau
Hometown: Oxford, Maine
Gas Man: Evan Marchal
Hometown: Westfield, Indiana
Jackman: Stan Dolittle
Hometown: Ninety Six, South Carolina
Windshield: Matt Custer (also serves as interior mechanic)
Hometown: Bedford, Pennsylvania
Road Crew Members:
Truck Driver: Rick Hodges and Stephen Mitchell
Hometowns: Raleigh, North Carolina and Woodville, Ohio, respectively
Engineers: Dax Gerringer and Billy Keubler
Hometowns: Gibsonville, North Carolina and Saline, Michigan,respectively
Mechanic: Richie Bean
Hometown: Bradford, Vermont
Tire Specialist: Jamie Turski
Hometown: Trumbull, Connecticut
Shock Specialist: Michael McCarville
Hometown: Kensington, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Mechanic: Allen Mincey
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
| Las Vegas Notes of Interest: |
While this is Harvick’s 19th year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, it’s his sixth 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, 95 top-five finishes and 128 top-10s while leading 8,700 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 and 2018. The team has qualified for the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway four times in the last five years.
Harvick has career totals of 45 wins, 25 poles, 192 top-fives, 337 top-10s and 13,126 laps led in 648 starts.
His most recent Cup Series win came five races ago at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (Nov. 4, 2018).
His last Busch Pole came four races agoat ISM Raceway near Phoenix (Nov. 9, 2018).
Harvick arrives at Las Vegas second in the NASCAR Cup Series standings with 79 points, only eight markers behind leader Denny Hamlin.
Harvick in the Monster Energy Cup Series at Las Vegas:
The Las Vegas 400 will mark Harvick’s 20th career Cup Series start at Las Vegas. He has scored two wins (2015 and spring 2018) at the 1.5 mile oval. In 2015, he started 18th, led five times for a total of 142 laps and beat Martin Truex Jr. by 1.640 seconds. In the spring race of 2018, he started second and dominated by leading 214 of 267 laps en route to beating second-place Kyle Busch by 2.906 seconds. He has five top-five finishes and eight top-10s at Las Vegas. The 43-year-old driver has led 452 laps, has an average starting position of 17.9, average finish of 15.4, and has completed 93.0 percent (4,740 of 5,099) of the laps he’s contested there.
Harvick in the Xfinity Series at Las Vegas: Harvick has made 11 starts in the Xfinity Series at Las Vegas. He has two wins, one pole, six top-five finishes and seven top-10s. He has led 364 laps, has an average starting position of 7.0 and average finish of 9.3, and has completed 95.6 percent (2,120 of 2,217) of the laps he’s contested there. Harvick’s first Xfinity Series win at Las Vegas came in 2004, when he started 11th and led 14 laps, and his second in 2010, when he started second and led 82 laps. His lone Xfinity Series pole position came in 2007, when he ran 181.111 mph.
Harvick in the Truck Series at Las Vegas: Harvick has started three Truck Series races at Las Vegas –1997, 1998 and 1999. He finished eighth in 1997 and ninth in 1999.
Lap Led Since 2014: Harvick has led 8,700 laps in 182 races since joining SHR acing in 2014. That’s an average of 41.75 laps led per race.
Jimmy John’s: Jimmy John’s, maker of gourmet sandwiches with “freaky fast” delivery since 1983, is the primary sponsor of the No. 4 Ford Fusion for eight NASCAR Cup Series races in 2019, including this weekend at Las Vegas.
Harvick’s Happy Hours on SiriusXM Radio: Harvick is entering the third year as the co-host ofHappy Hours on SiriusXM Radio channel 90. The show debuted March 28, 2017 and airs on Wednesdays from 1 to 3 p.m. EST, featuring 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.
Harvick the Broadcaster: Harvick will once again appear in the television booth for FOX at select Xfinity Series races in 2019. He will do seven races this year and is set to broadcast this week’s Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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 in March 2018. He now has 106 total victories after his most recent Cup Series win in November 2018 at Texas – 45 in the Cup Series, 47 in the Xfinity Series and 14 in the Gander Outdoors 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.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!