Kevin Harvick No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet Event Preview: Charlotte
NASCAR Cup Series
Racing For a Third Coca-Cola 600 Trophy
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (May 19, 2015) – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is ready to test his mental and physical limits Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway – the longest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season on the most prestigious day on the world motorsports calendar.
The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend is what racing enthusiasts around the world refer to as the “Greatest Day in Motorsports.” The day starts with the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco on the 2.075-mile street circuit through the streets of Monte Carlo. IndyCar’s Indianapolis 500 at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the second race of the day, followed by the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.
Growing up in Bakersfield, California, Harvick dreamed of his turn to one day emulate his childhood hero Rick Mears, the four-time Indianapolis 500 champion and three-time IndyCar Series champion who also grew up in Bakersfield. His dream was to win the historic Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend. But, the reigning Sprint Cup champion saw his career take a different path that led him to NASCAR instead of IndyCar. The path that led to NASCAR meant that Harvick would have to slightly amend his dream of winning the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend, and instead he would have to focus on winning the NASCAR leg of the Greatest Day in Motorsports – the Coca-Cola 600.
Harvick finished second to Jeff Burton by 3.190 seconds in his first Coca-Cola 600 attempt in 2001, but it wasn’t until his 11th attempt that he was able to etch his name on the Coca-Cola 600 trophy and take his place among the auto racing elite to score a win on Memorial Day weekend.
In 2011, Harvick was racing in second position on the white-flag lap when race leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of gas as he was racing down the backstretch. Harvick was able to take the lead coming off the final corner to win his first Coca-Cola 600. He led only two laps on the day, but the final lap was the most important.
It didn’t take Harvick long to record his second Coca-Cola 600 win. In 2013, he held off defending race-winner Kasey Kahne and current SHR teammate Kurt Busch in a 10-lap shootout to become just the 14th driver to score multiple Coca-Cola 600 wins on Memorial Day weekend.
If the start to the 2015 race season is any indication, Harvick should be a favorite Sunday.
Eleven races into 2015, Harvick has scored eight top-two finishes – including wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. The only other driver in Sprint Cup history to have eight top-two finishes through the first 11 points races of a season was Cale Yarborough in 1977
Harvick sits atop the driver standings with 437 points. His five straight Sprint Cup finishes of second or better to start the season is a series record. He has led a series-high 1,006 laps with an average finish of 6.2 thus far. His 1,006 laps led are nearly twice as many as the next-closest competitor – 541 by his SHR teammate Busch.
The Bakersfield native leads several other statistical categories: 126.7 driver rating, eight top-five finishes, 10 top-10 finishes, 21 bonus points, 574 fastest laps run, 20.3 percent of fastest laps run, 28.6 percent of laps led, 1,090.38 miles led, 3,209 laps in the top-15, 91.3 percent of laps in the top-15, average running position of 5.7, average finish of 6.2, and a pass differential of 213.
Harvick has finished either first or second in his last seven Sprint Cup starts on 1.5-mile racetracks. He had wins at Charlotte and Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2014 and Las Vegas in 2015 during that streak. He finished second at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in 2014 and Atlanta Motor Speedway, at Texas again this season, as well as at Kansas Speedway two weekends ago, each time finishing second to Jimmie Johnson.
While Harvick may never join Rick Mears as an Indianapolis 500 winner, a win on Sunday would make Harvick one of only nine drivers to win the Coca-Cola 600 three or more times. Darrell Waltrip won five times – 1978, 1979, 1985, 1988 and 1989. Johnson has won four times – 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2014. And Buddy Baker, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne have each won three times.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Is the Coca-Cola 600 more physically or mentally challenging?
“It just depends on how hot it is, honestly. If it’s a good weekend and the weather is nice, then it’s more mentally challenging than physically challenging. Either way, it’s still challenging both mentally and physically in some way, shape or form. The hardest part mentally is just getting yourself to overcome that last hundred miles because you are used to the 400- or 500-mile races.”
Your career stats at Charlotte weren’t overly impressive until just a couple of years ago. What changed to help you become more successful at Charlotte?
“I don’t exactly remember when it was, but I remember that it was somewhere around the 2009 or 2010 mark that the results started to get better. We were just off on some of the things that we were doing at that particular racetrack. The first year I think I finished second, but then it changed and we were just off. I think we got everything straightened out over the last couple of years. Since I got to Stewart-Haas Racing, it’s been a really good racetrack for us and the results have been great.”
Chassis Information: Chassis No. 4-843: Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS built on Chassis No. 4-843 in the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Built in 2014, Chassis No. 4-843 won two races, two pole positions and led 748 laps in its first season. It led 23 laps and finished 41st in its debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 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 in a must-win performance that kept Harvick’s slim Sprint Cup championship hopes alive at Phoenix International Raceway in November. In its only start of 2015, Harvick started and finished second and led 116 of 325 laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Coca-Cola 600 Notes of Interest:
- Media Availability: Kevin Harvick is scheduled to visit the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center for media availability Thursday at 1:45 p.m.
- Looking Ahead to ‘600 Miles of Remembrance’ During Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte: As part of NASCAR’s remembrance of those service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending our country and our freedom, the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is honoring Army Sgt. Cory R. Mracek (pronounced “MIR-a-check”), who died Jan. 27, 2004 in Iraq. Sgt. Mracek, a native of Chadron, Nebraska, had a lifelong dream to become a paratrooper and, in November 2003, he realized his dream. He was sent in January 2004 with the 82nd Airborne to Iraq, where was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED). His nickname with the 82nd Airborne was Sgt. Morale Check. He loved to laugh, loved his country and was proud to serve. He left behind his parents Jim and Pat, and sisters Stacy and Heather.
- 2014 Sprint Cup Champion: Harvick, the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, is teamed with crew chief Rodney Childers in his second season at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). In their first season together, Harvick and Childers combined to produce five victories, eight poles, 14 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s, and led 2,137 laps on their way to winning the Sprint Cup title.
- NASCAR Hall of Fame Voter: As the reigning Sprint Cup champion, Harvick has a vote to help elect the incoming 2016 class to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Harvick is only the second reigning Sprint Cup champion – Jimmie Johnson was the first in 2014 – to cast a ballot to help determine a class to be enshrined. The 58-member panel will vote for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the results to be announced that afternoon in the Hall of Fame’s Great Hall.
- All-Star Runner-Up: Harvick started 20th out of 20 cars in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race last Saturday night after driving through his pit stall during qualifying and receiving a penalty for a crew member over the wall too soon. Harvick rallied back to finish second to race-winner Denny Hamlin by 0.923 of a second.
- Historically Fast Start: Harvick has scored eight top-two finishes through the first 11 Sprint Cup points races of 2015. The only other driver in Sprint Cup history to have eight top-two finishes through the first 11 Sprint Cup races of a season was Cale Yarborough in 1977.
- Top-Two Finishes since Joining SHR: Harvick and the No. 4 team have finished first or second in 19 of 47 Sprint Cup points races since joining SHR – more than 40 percent of the total Sprint Cup starts during that time. Harvick also has scored seven Sprint Cup wins, 22 top-five finishes, 30 top-10s, nine poles and led 3,143 laps during the 47 race span.
- Harvick in 2015: Harvick, the current Sprint Cup points leader, has wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway through the first 11 events. Harvick started from the pole and led 224 laps en route to his Phoenix win and his third perfect 150.0 driver rating at the mile oval. He scored his first Sprint Cup win of the season the previous week in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas. Harvick has finished second or better in eight of 11 Sprint Cup starts and has scored 10 top-10s in 2015. He has led a series-high 1,006 laps with an average finish of 6.2.
- Inside the 2015 Loop Data: Harvick’s two wins trails only Jimmie Johnson with three wins for the most among Sprint Cup drivers. Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. are tied for the Sprint Cup lead with 10 top-10 finishes. Harvick also leads the Sprint Cup Series in points (437), top-five finishes (eight), driver rating (126.7), average finish (6.2), average running position (5.7), number of fastest laps run (574), percentage of fastest laps (20.3), laps led (1,006), percentage of laps led (28.6), miles led (1,090.38), pass differential (213), laps in the top-15 (3,209) and percentage of laps in the top-15 (91.3).
- Dynamic Duo: Harvick (two Sprint Cup wins and 1,006 laps led) and SHR teammate Kurt Busch (one Sprint Cup win and 541 laps led) have combined for three Sprint Cup wins and have led nearly 44 percent (1,547 of 3,516) of total laps run in points-paying Sprint Cup races in 2015.
- Bonus Points: Harvick leads all Sprint Cup drivers in bonus points scored (21) through the first 11 points races of 2015. He has scored at least one bonus point in every race this season, except the season-opening Daytona 500. He has led laps in 10 of 11 Sprint Cup points races, including leading the most laps in five races – Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. He also scored an additional three bonus points for each of his two wins (Las Vegas and Phoenix). Jimmie Johnson is second with 16 bonus points and SHR teammate Busch is third with 12 bonus points.
- Harvick at Charlotte since Joining SHR: Harvick has two Sprint Cup points-paying starts at Charlotte and two non-points starts in the Sprint All-Star Race since joining SHR at the beginning of the 2014 season. Harvick won the fourth segment and held the best average finish through the first four segments of the 2014 Sprint All-Star Race, but he restarted third after the final pit stop. Harvick then passed Carl Edwards for second but couldn’t catch Jamie McMurray, who crossed the finish line 0.696 of a second ahead of the No. 4 Chevrolet. The following week, in the Coca-Cola 600, Harvick led 100 laps and passed Matt Kenseth for second with two laps to go, but race-winner Johnson beat Harvick to the finish line by 1.272 seconds. Harvick led 163 of 334 laps to win the 2014 Bank of America 500 in October by 0.571 of a second over Jeff Gordon. Last weekend, Harvick started last in the Sprint All-Star Race after driving through his pit stall and receiving a penalty for a crew member over the wall too soon during qualifying. Harvick rallied back to finish second to race-winner Denny Hamlin by 0.923 of a second.
- Harvick in the Coca-Cola 600: Harvick will make his 15th Coca-Cola 600 start Sunday. In 14 previous Coca-Cola 600 starts, Harvick has two wins (2011 and 2013), four top-five finishes, five top-10s and has led 133 laps. He finished second in his first attempt in 2001, but didn’t record another top-five finish until he won the 2011 race. Since 2011, Harvick has two wins, a second-place finish (2014) and an eighth-place finish (2012).
- Career Totals: Harvick has 30 wins, 122 top-five finishes, 239 top-10s and 15 poles in 513 career Sprint Cup starts heading into Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.
- Honored at the White House: President of the United States Barack Obama honored 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 team from SHR Tuesday, April 21 on the South Lawn of the White House.
- Harvick the Broadcaster: Harvick has made two appearances in the FOX television booth for NASCAR Xfinity Series races this year. He made his first appearance when he called the Xfinity race at Daytona in February and followed that with an appearance at Las Vegas in March. Harvick is scheduled to call one more Xfinity race for FOX this season – May 30 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
- Kevin Harvick Day in Bakersfield, California: Bakersfield, California, Mayor Harvey Hall proclaimed Wednesday, March 18 “Kevin Harvick Day” in the driver’s hometown. Local leaders met at the Boys & Girls Club of Kern County March 18 to celebrate the 2014 Sprint Cup championship. Also on March 18, The Kevin Harvick Foundation, in partnership with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, announced a plan to renovate and remodel the gymnasium and outdoor play area of the Boys & Girls Club of Kern County. Harvick’s hometown of Bakersfield is in Kern County.
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