Trying for a Playoff Repeat at the Magic Mile
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Sept. 20, 2017) – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is heading to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon for this Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 looking for a repeat of his 2016 performance at New Hampshire – which culminated with a visit to victory lane.
Harvick entered the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs as the sixth seed, but a solid third-place performance at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, which featured two runner-up finishes in the first and second stages for an additional 18 points, moved the No. 4 team up to third in the standings, 41 points above the 13th position with two races remaining in the Round of 16.
After a 20th-place finish at Chicagoland in 2016, Harvick and team came to New Hampshire needing a win to guarantee they would advance to the Round of 12. Harvick and the No. 4 team delivered with some late-race heroics after starting 19th and rallying on a restart with only six laps remaining to seal the victory by .442 of a second over runner-up Matt Kenseth.
It was the second trip to victory lane in the Cup Series for Harvick at New Hampshire. He scored his first Cup Series win there in September 2006, when he started from the pole position and dominated the race by leading 196 of 300 laps and finishing .777 of a second ahead of his current team owner Tony Stewart.
Harvick isn’t alone in his success at New Hampshire. His crew chief Rodney Childers also scored an unlikely victory while running a limited schedule with driver Brian Vickers in 2013. Vickers only ran nine races in the No. 55 car in 2013, but Childers and team guided him to victory lane in the July race, when the team started 13th, led 16 of 302 laps and scored the victory by .582 of a second over runner-up Kyle Busch.
The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion has five top-five finishes in his last six starts at the “Magic Mile” and has led 387 of the 1,806 laps contested over that span – more than 21.4 percent.
Harvick finished fifth in his most recent visit to New Hampshire in July 2017.
His lone New Hampshire finish outside the top-five over his last six starts came in September 2015. He started second and led a race-high 216 laps but ran out of fuel in the closing laps and finished 21st. The result forced Harvick and the No. 4 team to head to Dover (Del.) International Speedway needing a win to advance to the playoffs’ Round of 12. They delivered a dominating performance at Dover by leading 355 of 400 laps to secure the win and advance.
Harvick’s plan of attack this weekend at New Hampshire is to attempt to qualify up front Friday to secure the track position needed to win Sunday, run a clean race, and maximize his chance to head to Dover with his place in the Round of 12 secured.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How do you break down the playoff race schedule?
“I’ve been fortunate to be on the side of going into the first week and thinking you’re going to win the championship and I’ve learned that’s how you think every year. But the one thing about it that I have learned is you better think about it one week at a time and not break down anything until you get there because you might be broke down before you even make it to the end. So it’s a one-week-at-a-time battle, and the most important thing to do at this particular time of the season is control yourself from a mental capacity and try to keep yourself prepared going into each week because you don’t know what you’re going to have to approach next week until you get done with this week. Even if you’re running good or you’re running bad, it’s a one-week-at-a-time-and-survive mentality until you go as far as you can.”
Why do you think Loudon has been so difficult for a lot of playoff drivers the last couple years?
“I don’t think Loudon is really any different than any other racetrack. It’s just circumstances that can crop up at really any racetrack throughout the playoffs. Any track can be a problem and I don’t think Loudon is any different than the rest of them. If you’re having a bad day, you know it can result in a bad day. You just have to overcome that and try to get yourself out of the hole.”
Chassis Information - Chassis No. 4-015:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-015 in the ISM Connect 300 Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Built new in 2017, Chassis No. 4-015 will make its debut in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway Notes of Interest:
· Earning It Since 2014: Harvick is in his 17th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and his fourth at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with crew chief Rodney Childers at the helm. Since joining forces in 2014, Harvick and Childers combined to produce 13 victories, 14 poles, 63 top-five finishes and 92 top-10s; led 6,441 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 New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the ISM Connect 300 ranked third in the standings with 2,067 points after his third-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. He trails leader Martin Truex Jr. by 35 points.
· Playoff Qualifier: Harvick clinched his position in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs as he scored his first Cup Series win of the season at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June. He started 12th, led 24 laps and had more than a five-second cushion when the final yellow flag waved to end the race under caution.Harvick and the No. 4 team scored one race win and three stage wins to account for eight playoff points and finished fourth in regular season points to pick up an additional seven points to earn the sixth seed for the 2017 playoffs.
· Harvick in the NASCAR Cup Series at Loudon: Harvick will make his 34th career NASCAR Cup Series start Sunday at New Hampshire. Harvick has two Cup Series wins at Loudon, including September 2016, when he started 19th, led the final eight laps and beat runner-up Matt Kenseth to the finish line by .442 of a second. His first win at Loudon came in September 2006, when he won from the pole and led 196 of 300 laps. He has 10 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s with an average starting position of 13.1, average finish of 12.8, 706 laps led and has completed every race.
· Harvick in the Xfinity Series at Loudon: Harvick has made 12 career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at New Hampshire. Harvick has one win (June 2007), four poles (May 2001, July 2003 and 2005 and June 2007), nine top-five finishes and 11 top-10s at the 1.058-mile oval. The two-time Xfinity Series champion has led 677 laps, has an average starting position of 3.1, an average finish of 4.8, and has completed every lap he’s contested there.
· Harvick in the Camping World Truck Series at Loudon: Harvick has made six career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at New Hampshire. Harvick has three top-five finishes and five top-10s at the 1.058-mile oval. The Bakersfield, California native has led 108 laps, has an average starting position of 4.3, an average finish of 6.5, and has completed 99.9 percent (1,158 of 1,159) of the laps he’s contested there.
· On The Pole: Harvick has scored four Cup Series pole awards in 2017 – three coming on 1.5-mile racetracks. He scored his first of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a lap of 29.118 seconds at 190.398 mph. His second of the season came at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, when he made a lap at 27.217 seconds at 198.405 mph. His third came at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 with a lap of 27.918 seconds at 193.424 mph. The most recent came three weeks ago at Darlington (S.C) Raceway, where he posted a lap of 27.669 seconds at 177.730 mph.
· All-Time Wins List: Harvick scored his 36th career Cup Series win at Sonoma in June, which is ranked 22nd on the all-time wins list. His next Cup Series win will move him into a tie with Bobby Isaac for 21st on the all-time list. Among active drivers, Harvick ranks fourth behind leader Jimmie Johnson’s 83 career wins, and Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch, who are tied for second with 38 wins each.
· Closing In on 11,000 Lap Led: Harvick also needs 133 laps led to become the 17th Cup Series driver of all time to lead 11,000 or more laps. Johnson, Kyle Busch and Kenseth are the only active drivers to accomplish the feat.
· Career NASCAR Cup Series Totals: Harvick has 36 wins, 163 top-fives, 301 top-10s and 21 poles in 601 career Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
· Personal Announcement: On Tuesday, July 11, Harvick kicked off his SiriusXM Radio show “Happy Hours” by announcing that he and wife DeLana are expecting to add a daughter to their family around the first of the year.
· Harvick's Happy Hours on SiriusXM Radio: On March 14, Harvick announced that he will host Happy Hours on SiriusXM Radio. The show debuted March 28 and airs on Tuesdays 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 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.