The Original Can of Budweiser
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Aug. 31, 2015) – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is helping turn back the clock with a special commemorative Budweiser paint scheme for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway as part of the track’s The Tradition Returns weekend Sept. 4 to 6.
The retro-themed paint scheme mimics the first can Budweiser produced in 1936, which was gold and featured an eagle flying through the Anheuser-Busch stylized “A” with five stars above and below the winged crest. Below the eagle, Budweiser is spelled out in block letters with “Lager Beer” in script.
The design is part of an overall throwback weekend at one of NASCAR’s oldest venues. Built in 1949 by Harold Brasington, Darlington has hosted Sprint Cup races since 1950.
While the defending Sprint Cup champion will drive a No. 4 Chevrolet honoring the history of his sponsor Budweiser, he is looking for a result similar to his most recent visit to the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval.
In 2014, Harvick won the 65th running of the iconic Southern 500 – one of the crown jewels on the 36-race Sprint Cup schedule – in dominating fashion. Harvick started from the pole and led 238 of 374 laps en route to beating runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the finish line by 0.558 of a second.
The win at Darlington was the second of Harvick’s five Sprint Cup wins during his first Sprint Cup championship season.
In 2015, the Sprint Cup points leader has consistently run and finished in the top-five since the start of the season with a chance to win nearly every weekend. He has two wins and 10 second-place finishes. Three times he’s finished third, and twice he’s finished fourth. He has amassed 21 top-10s in 24 Sprint Cup races.
With only two races remaining before the start of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoffs, Harvick would like to add his third Sprint Cup win of the season at Darlington next Sunday night. He scored his first of the year in the season’s third race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and his second the very next week at Phoenix International Raceway.
Harvick clinched his spot in the Chase field with his eighth-place finish July 11 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, which guaranteed him a top-30 finish in the driver points after race No. 26 Sept. 12 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. He only needs to attempt to qualify for the remaining two regular-season Sprint Cup events to make it official.
Twenty-four races into 2015, Harvick’s 17 top-five finishes lead the series, and he sits atop the driver standings with 908 points. The No. 4 Chevrolet SS has led a series-high 1,406 laps with an average finish of 7.5. The 1,406 laps led are 598 more than the next-closest competitor – 808 by Joey Logano.
Harvick has led at least one lap in 19 of 24 Sprint Cup races this season, including a streak of 14 in a row from March 1 at Atlanta Motor Speedway through June 14 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The staggering number of laps led and the 14 consecutive races with laps led is among numerous other impressive numbers Harvick has compiled this season.
He leads several other statistical categories: 119.7 driver rating, 33 bonus points, 923 fastest laps run, 24.0 percent of fastest laps run, 21.4 percent of laps led, 1,802.35 miles led, 5,936 laps in the top-15, and average running position of 7.499 in addition to his average finish of 7.5.
While Harvick and the No. 4 team are locked into the Chase field by points and wins, gaining bonus points for additional wins is now their top priority through the next two races, starting next weekend at Darlington.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS:
What does doing these throwback paint schemes say about where Darlington stands in the sport of NASCAR?
“I think a lot of that just goes back to the people. I think the people who came up with this program and put the effort into this weekend really represent what the weekend is all about. That is the history of our sport. We have had so much history take place at Darlington, being our first superspeedway and really kind of breaking ground as to where we could race and the size of racetrack we could race on. You look back at some of the guys who have won the Southern 500 and you look at the names on that trophy and they are the who’s who of our sport. It’s a big race and I think, when you come to this race, it’s one you want to win.”
What would it mean to you to win the first race at Darlington after its return to Labor Day weekend?
“Yeah, that is definitely the goal. You want to come here and win again. We were fortunate to experience winning at Darlington last year and to come back and try to win again is really what the goals are. Obviously, every week we get a little bit closer to the Chase, the intensity level comes up. Still the Southern 500 is, no matter where it is on the schedule, it’s something everybody has got circled on their calendars as one they want to win.”
What are your favorite memories of the Southern 500?
“When you look back – you don’t have to look too far back – I think when Kurt (Busch) and Ricky Craven had the closest finish in NASCAR history, that was probably one of the moments that was pretty neat just for our sport and that came at Darlington. When you just look back at some of the old film, I wouldn’t say it’s just one particular race – I think when you just look back, and you look at the cars and the things that the guys went through. You can feel how hot it is. The cars weren’t like they are nowadays. They were grueling to drive and I guess we could call the drivers and teams ‘men’s men’ because they were making those cars go around the racetrack. The safety wasn’t what it is today. It’s definitely just a grueling racetrack and I think you are going to put some more grueling conditions back into the weekend.”
Chassis Information: Chassis No. 4-945: Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS built on Chassis No. 4-945 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Built new in 2015, Chassis No. 4-945 will make its Sprint Cup debut at Darlington Raceway next Sunday night.
Darlington Notes of Interest: