Going For Two In A Row
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (April 17, 2017) – As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to the high-banks of Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500, Kevin Harvick will be looking to capture his second straight Cup Series win at Bristol and his second consecutive top-five finish of 2017.
The driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion scored his first NASCAR Cup Series top-five finish of 2017 on April 9 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. He took Jimmy John’s “Freaky Fast” motto and put it to the testearly in the weekend when he captured the pole position with a lap of 27.217 seconds at 198.405 mph in the third round of knockout qualifying to score his second pole of 2017. He followed that up by leading 77 laps on Sunday afternoon en route to a fourth-place finish in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.
It also helps that Harvick is no stranger to victory lane at Bristol. In fact, he has won there in each of NASCAR’s three touring series.
The 2014 NASCAR Cup champion has two wins at Bristol in NASCAR’s top series. In addition to his win at Bristol in August 2016, he scored his first win at the .533-mile oval in April 2005, when he started 13th and led 109 of 500 laps and beat Elliott Sadler to the finish line by 4.652 seconds. He has five NASCAR Xfinity Series wins there with his most recent coming in March 2009, when he started 13th and led 46 laps to beat runner-up Carl Edwards by .798 of a second. He also visited Bristol’s victory lane in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in August 2011, when he started sixth, led 103 of 200 laps and beat Johnny Sauter by .434 of a second.
Harvick would like to add his first NASCAR Cup Series win of the year at Bristol on Sunday afternoon.
The best news for Harvick coming into this weekend may be crew chief Rodney Childers’ record at the .533-mile bullring. He’s led four different NASCAR Cup Series drivers to top-five finishes at Bristol. In addition to Harvick’s NASCAR Cup Series win in August 2016, Childers has led Scott Riggs, David Reutimann and Brian Vickers to top-five finishes at the track affectionately known as “Thunder Valley.” Childers led Riggs to a fourth-place finish in August 2006 while both worked for Evernham Motorsports. While at Michael Waltrip Racing, Childers led Reutimann to a runner-up finish in August 2010 and Brian Vickers to a fifth-place finish in March 2012, as well as fourth-place finishes in August 2012 and 2013.
Seven races into 2017, Harvick is ranked 10th in the championship driver standings with 198 points. While he has continued to show speed, the team has struggled to find the consistent finishes it has to start the previous three seasons. Since joining SHR prior to the start of the 2014 season, Harvick has never gone to Bristol Motor Speedway in April without a win to his credit. The string of tough luck has included a pit-road speeding penalty at Atlanta that cost the No. 4 team a win; a cut tire at Las Vegas resulting in a 38th-place finish; and a damaged nose coming to the green flag at the start of the race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, followed by a cut tire in the same race, which forced Harvick to battle back from two laps down to finish 13th.
Harvick and the No. 4 Jimmy John’s team hope to make it two straight on Sunday afternoon at Bristol – a second straight NASCAR Cup Series win at the “World’s Fastest Half Mile,” and a second straight top-five finish to build momentum for a charge towards the NASCAR playoffs.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What did you take away from your win last August at Bristol?
“For me, I was excited that you were able to use the bottom of the racetrack, and the lap cars had an option. You just didn’t get pinned up high. Really just want to applaud the racetrack for the effort that they made to really get that bottom groove working so that we had multiple grooves of racing, and I think as a driver you had a lot of options to make your car work and maneuver through traffic and make up positions. We started 24th and pretty much drove through the field because of that.”
What did you think of Bristol Motor Speedway adding VHT resin to the racetrack last year to make the racing groove better?
“Taking a chance like that, it could have been a complete disaster, but everybody was all in on trying to make the racing better. The SMI group has a little bit of an advantage on everybody else when it comes to those types of situations with their drag race side of things and the VHT and how to apply those things. How to rubber it in with all their concrete launch pads, so they had a pretty good insight on what they needed to do to the bottom after the driver council and NASCAR got together and told them what we thought we needed to do to try to make better racing at Bristol. So they were all in. This is just a classic example of collaboration between SMI, NASCAR and the driver council and seeing the outcome of it was pretty exciting, just because of the fact it does open up options. I think it definitely has opened everybody’s eyes to saying, all right, that worked pretty darned good because the last few years we’d been there, you get on the bottom of the racetrack and you are three or four tenths slower. Now you could hold your ground and get past lapped cars. It gave everybody an option to do something different, and as a driver, that’s what you want. You want options.”
Do you consider yourself a short-track specialist?
“I think we’ve had success on short tracks in the past. It’s really just a matter putting a weekend together. It’s really no different than any other racetrack. This business is hard to be successful at and sometimes you go through years where short tracks are good and some years not so good. Some years longer tracks are good and some are not so good. It’s really just about putting together a whole weekend. It all starts with practice on Friday and trying to qualify well. I enjoy the short tracks because we don’t get to go to quite as many as I think we’d all like.”
Jimmy John’s Racing Team Report
Round 8 of 36 – Food City 500 – Bristol Motor Speedway
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: Moorseville, North Carolina
Engine Specialist: Robert Brandt
Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
Spotter: Tim Fedewa
Hometown: Holt, Michigan
Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Gas Man: Justin White
Hometown: Lynnville, Tennessee
Front Tire Changer: Eric Maycroft
Hometown: Algonquiin, Illinois
Second Gas Man: Marc Wulf
Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska
Front Tire Carrier: Matt Holzbaur
Hometown: New Egypt, New Jersey
Windshield: Matthew Custer
Hometown: Bedford, Pennsylvania
Rear Tire Changer: Daniel Smith
Hometown: Concord, North Carolina
Jackman: Stan Doolittle
Hometown: Ninety Six, South Carolina
Rear Tire Carrier: Mike “Shrek” Morneau
Hometown: Oxford, Maine
Road Crew Members:
Truck Drivers: Rick Hodges and Stephen Mitchell
Hometowns: Raleigh, North Carolina, and Woodville, Ohio, respectively
Tire Specialist: Dustin Keath
Hometown: Reading, Pennsylvania
Shock Specialist: Mike 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
Fuel Runner: Evan Kureczka
Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Chassis Information – Chassis No. 4-884:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-884 in the Food City 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Built in 2014, Chassis No. 4-884 made its debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where it won the pole, led 12 laps and finished eighth. It also won the pole in its second appearance at Atlanta Motor Speedway in August, when it led 195 laps and finished 19th. It won its third appearance at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in October, when it started seventh and led 162 laps. He won his last outing in Chassis 4-884, when he beat runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to the finish line by 1.933 seconds in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Bristol Night Race in August 2016. It has scored two wins, six top-two finishes, seven top-fives and nine top-10s in 10 NASCAR Cup Series starts.
Bristol Motor Speedway Notes of Interest:
· Freaky Fast Since 2014: Harvick enters his 17th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and his fourth at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with crew chief Rodney Childers at the helm. In their first three seasons together, Harvick and Childers combined to produce 12 victories, 11 poles, 54 top-five finishes and 75 top-10s; led 5,815 laps; won the 2014 Cup Series title; finished runner-up in 2015 to champion Kyle Busch and eighth in 2016.
· Points Position: Harvick arrives at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway ranked 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings with 198 points after a fourth-place finish Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. He trails leader Kyle Larson by 117 points. Harvick also has scored three playoff points for stage wins.
· Lap Leader: Through the first seven NASCAR Cup Series events of 2017, Harvick has been at the front of the field more than any other driver with 419 of 2,142 laps led. That’s nearly 20 percent of the total laps contested. He holds a six-lap advantage over Kyle Busch’s 413 laps led.
· Pole Position: Harvick has won two poles through the first seven events of 2017. He scored his first of the year March 3 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a lap of 29.118 seconds at 190.398 mph in the third round of knockout qualifying. He won his second pole of the season April 7 at Texas with a lap of 27.217 seconds at 198.405 mph in the third round of knockout qualifying. Coincidentally, they are also the only two races of the season that Harvick ran both the Xfinity and Cup Series races in the same weekend. He has won 13 of his 18 career NASCAR Cup Series poles since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
· Harvick in the NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol: The Food City 500 will mark Harvick’s 33rd career NASCAR Cup Series start at Bristol. Harvick has two wins (April 2005, August 2016), one pole (August 2014), 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s at the half-mile oval. He has led 862 laps, has an average starting position of 16.6, an average finish of 13.9, and has completed 97.7 percent (15,657 of 16,027) of the laps he’s contested there.
· Bristol Night Race Winner: Harvick started 24th and raced his way to the win in August 2016 in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Bristol Night Race. The race was postponed due to inclement weather and raced during the day Sunday afternoon, when Harvick led 128 laps and beat runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to the finish line by 1.933 seconds to score his second NASCAR Cup Series win at the .533-mile oval.
· Bristol Sweep:Harvick’s win in the 2005 Food City 500 at Bristol came in convincing fashion as he led three times for 109 laps and beat Elliott Sadler by 4.652 seconds. A prelude to that win was Harvick’s victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race the day before, giving him a sweep of the Bristol race weekend.
· Harvick in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Bristol: Harvick has made 29 starts in the Xfinity Series at Bristol. He has five wins (August 2000 and 2001, March 2003, April 2005 and March 2009), three poles (August 2000, March 2001 and 2006), 15 top-five finishes and 24 top-10s. He has led 1,217 laps, has an average starting position of 9.1, an average finish of 7.5, and has completed 99.0 percent (7,615 of 7,691) of the laps he’s contested there.
· Harvick in the Camping World Truck Series at Bristol: Harvick has five starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Bristol. In his most recent Truck Series start at Bristol in August 2011, he started sixth, led 103 of 200 laps and beat runner-up Johnny Sauter by .434 of a second. In addition to that win, he has two top-five finishes and four top-10s. He has led 227 laps with an average finish of 8.8.
· Career NASCAR Cup Series Totals: Harvick has 35 wins, 155 top-fives, 287 top-10s and 19 poles in 581 career Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’s Food City 500.
· Harvick the TV Broadcaster: Harvick will serve as a broadcaster in the FOX TV booth for the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at Bristol. He also has served as a guest broadcaster for the Xfinity races Feb. 25 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and March 18 at Phoenix International Raceway, as well as the Camping World Truck Series event April 1 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Healso will be in the booth for Xfinity races May 6 at Talladega (Ala.) Super speedway and June 10 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. He is slated to broadcast the Truck Series races July 21 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Oct. 13 at Talladega.
· Harvick’s Happy Hours on SiriusXM Radio: On March 14, Harvick announced he will host Happy Hours on SiriusXM Radio. The show debuted March 28 and airs every Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. ET, featuring Harvick’s distinctive perspective on his sport and life outside the track. Harvick and co-host Matt Yocum will 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. In June, the show will begin airing every other week.