Everyone who grew up in the 1980s loved the movie Back to the Future, starring Michael J. Fox.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Throwback Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, is hoping to go Back to the Future for the next week en route the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship.
The Busch Beer Throwback scheme pays tribute to Harvick’s championships in what was then known as the NASCAR Busch (now Xfinity) Series. He won his first in 2001 and followed that up with another in 2006. Those titles helped Harvick learn how to win championships, which he did at the Cup Series level in 2014.
He’s hoping to add the 2020 title to his Cup Series resume and become just the 17th driver to win it twice or more. He’s had a tremendous year with a series-high seven victories, 17, top-five finishes and 21 top-10s.
Harvick is now tied for ninth with Kyle Busch on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list with 56, and he’s 20 behind the late Dale Earnhardt, who is eighth with 76 checkered flags. Harvick is tied for second with Busch on the active driver list as both are behind Jimmie Johnson, who has 83 victories.
On Aug. 23 at Dover, Harvick led the 15,000th lap of his NASCAR career. He is 11th all-time, now with 15,151 laps led, and trails 10th-place Busch, who has led 17,676, and Johnson, who is ninth with 18,936. Harvick has led 10,725 laps as an SHR driver, having reached the 10,000-laps-led milestone as an SHR driver when he took the lead on lap 37 on June 7 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
All those records are nice, but the No. 4 team is all about winning championships and it starts at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway this Sunday night. Harvick has two wins, three poles, 10 top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and has led a total of 750 laps in his 25 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington.
But the combination of Harvick competing at Darlington in SHR equipment is impressive. In his last eight Cup Series starts at the “Track Too Tough To Tame” – all of which have come with SHR – he has finished inside the top-10 at each, seven of which were top-fives, with two wins.
There are 10 races until the title is decided Nov. 8 at Phoenix International Raceway. And the road to the championship starts on Sunday.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Throwback Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
With the points margin that you have, particularly the bonus playoff points, would it be disappointing if you don’t make it to Phoenix to fight for the championship?
“Yeah, look, right now we’re one week at a time. Our goal is to really worry about what’s happening this week. We’re not even close to Phoenix. I think, for us, we want to be competitive week in and week out because the season is too long to not be competitive. Putting it all together at one race is tough to do, and I think as you look at going to Phoenix, we ran well there at the beginning of the year, but that’s a long way away at this particular point, and it would be silly for us to look that far ahead.”
In previous years, you made it to the Championship Four numerous times. Have you thought about what you can do differently to get that second championship, or are there so many circumstances that are out of your control?
“Yeah, there are a number of circumstances. Phoenix is a way better racetrack for us than Homestead was. We were able to put that together one year, but those low-grip, high-downforce racetracks for us – (like) Homestead – have just been a struggle to kind of hit on everything that we need to do to make our car run like it does everywhere else. I think it’s a better scenario for us, Phoenix, but like I say, it’s still a long way away.”
You’ve accomplished a lot of records this year. What does it mean to you to be on a list with some of the guys who are in the Hall of Fame?
“Well, I’ve been fortunate, especially over the last seven years, to drive really fast racecars and capitalize on the things we’ve been given. But when you start talking about those lists and the names of people who you’re around and passing, whether it’s laps led or race wins or whatever the category is, it’s just an honor to be on those lists and be around those guys. So hopefully we can keep it going.”
Busch Beer Throwback Racing Team Report
Rounds 27 of 36 – Cook Out Southern 500 – Darlington
Car No.: 4 – Busch Beer Throwback Ford Mustang
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
Spotters: 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: Shawn Hopkins (also serves as interior mechanic)
Hometown: Chesterfield, Virginia
Darlington Notes of Interest:
· Dynamic Duo: While this is Harvick’s 20th year in the NASCAR Cup Series, it’s his seventh with crew chief Rodney Childers, which is the longest pairing of any current driver-crew chief combination. Since joining forces at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2014, Harvick and Childers have combined to produce 33 points-paying victories, a victory in the non-points 2018 NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, 25 Busch poles, 123 top-five finishes and 174 top-10s while leading 10,725 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, 2018 and 2019.
· Harvick has career totals of 56 wins, 31 poles, 223 top-fives, 383 top-10s and 15,151 laps led in 708 starts.
· His most recent Cup Series wins came on Aug. 22 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
· His most recent Busch Pole came in November 2019 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (Poles have not been won since May 23 at Charlotte due to the abbreviated weekend schedules during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
· Harvick is tied for ninth with Busch on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list with 56 victories and is 20 wins behind the late Dale Earnhardt, who is eighth with 76 checkered flags. Harvick is tied for second with Busch on the active driver list as both are behind Jimmie Johnson, who has 83 victories.
· More than 15,000 Laps Led: On Aug. 23 at Dover, Harvick led the 15,000th lap of his NASCAR career. He is 11th all-time, has led 15,151 laps, and trails 10th-place Busch, who has led 17,676, and Johnson, who is ninth with 18,936 laps led. Harvick has led 10,725 laps as an SHR driver. He led his 10,000th lap as an SHR driver when he took the lead on lap 37 on June 7 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
· Darlington Numerology – Harvick has two wins, three poles, 10 top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and has led a total of 750 laps in his 25 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington. His average start is 14.3, his average finish is 13.4 and he has a lap-completion rate of 96.3 percent, 8,343 of the 8,660 laps available.
· Harvick at Darlington since 2014 – The combination of Harvick competing at Darlington in SHR equipment is impressive. In his last eight NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington – all of which have come with SHR – he has finished inside the top-10 in each, seven of which were top-fives.
· Xfinity and Trucks at Darlington: Harvick has competed in 16 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Darlington with three top-fives and nine top-10 finishes with one pole position (August 2003). He has driven in two NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series events there with a best finish of fourth in March 2002.
· Let’s Win Two: When Harvick won the doubleheader in August at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, he became the first driver in more than 50 years to win NASCAR Cup Series races on consecutive days. Richard Petty won the Albany-Saratoga 250 on July 14, 1971 at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, New York, and the next day won the Islip 250 at Islip (N.Y.) Speedway. Islip closed in 1984, but Albany-Saratoga is still in operation.
· Points Position: Harvick arrives at Daytona first in the NASCAR Cup Series standings with 2,057 points, 10 markers ahead of second-place Denny Hamlin. He’s led the points since the conclusion of the March 8 race at Phoenix Raceway.
· Laps Completed: Harvick is 16th all-time in laps completed with 201,848 after Saturday’s race at Daytona. He reached 200,000 laps completed on lap 222 of the July 19 race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Harvick is the leader among active drivers and is closing in on Dale Earnhardt, who is 15th with 202,888.
· Second Place: By finishing second June 28 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Harvick now has 56 runner-up finishes and passed Buck Baker for ninth on the all-time list. He can tie Darrell Waltrip for eighth with another runner-up finish.
· 117 and Counting – Harvick scored his 100th career win in NASCAR’s top three series with his March 2018 Las Vegas Motor Speedway win. He now has 115 total victories – 56 in the Cup Series, 47 in the Xfinity Series and 14 in the Truck Series. Only three other drivers in NASCAR history have passed 100 wins in NASCAR’s top three series: Busch (212), Petty (200) and David Pearson (106).
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!