Kevin Harvick Freaky Fast in the Irish Hills

 Kevin Harvick is heading to the Irish Hills of Michigan with Jimmy John’s on the hood of his No. 4 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.


The driver of the No. 4 Ford has taken the Jimmy John’s motto of “Freaky Fast” to a whole new level in 2018. Starting on Fridays, Harvick has won two Busch Pole awards and started on the front row six times thanks to his qualifying efforts. He has been just as freaky fast on race day, scoring a series-best five points-paying wins and a win in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.


Harvick has led a series-best 909 laps, which ranks as the fourth-best single-season total of his career – and there are 22 races remaining. He leads the series with 10 top-five finishes and is tied for the series lead with 11 top-10s and 25 playoff points.


Those numbers are likely to continue on the 2-mile Michigan oval, where Harvick and the No. 4 team have been among the best in the series in recent years, scoring top-five finishes in seven of their last 10 starts there and leading the series with 372 points and an average starting position of 7.6.


Harvick scored four consecutive second-place finishes at Michigan from June 2013 through August 2014. He was runner-up to Greg Biffle by 2.989 seconds in June 2013. In August 2013, Harvick finished 1.018 seconds behind Joey Logano. In 2014, he followed Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon across the finish line in the June and August races, respectively. That’s four races, four second-place finishes, to four different drivers.


Harvick scored back-to-back top-five finishes at Michigan in 2016. In June, he started 29th and raced his way to a fifth-place finish. His next start in August, he started fourth, led 33 laps and finished fifth.


For his career, Harvick has been to victory lane at Michigan in each of NASCAR’s top three national touring series.


He scored an Xfinity Series win at Michigan in August 2003, when he led 10 laps and beat Kasey Kahne to the finish line under caution. His NASCAR Cup Series win came in August 2010, when he led 60 laps and outran Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 1.731 seconds. He scored a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win in August 2011, when he led 13 laps and finished ahead of Timothy Peters as the race ended under caution.


The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion would like to add a fresh Cup Series win to his resume Sunday at Michigan. A win would give Harvick a new single-season-best sixth points-paying win and would add to his series-best 25 playoff points as he continues his march toward NASCAR’s 2018 playoffs.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
What does it take to have a good finish at Michigan?

“How you finish at Michigan depends on how your day is going. If you’re having a good day, it’s not really hard to tell your guys what you need and everyone is in a good mood. If you’re having a bad day, you can get behind at Michigan really fast. Usually, when you’re hooked up at Michigan, the leaders have clean air and move through traffic pretty well. But, if you’re in the middle of the pack, you find yourself getting behind and going a lap down pretty quickly. You’re going to end up with a green-flag pit stop and a whole bunch of green-flag laps. You just have to be going from the time the green flag drops and keep yourself in position at the end.”


Do you enjoy racing at Michigan International Speedway?

“I think we’ve finished really well there over the last couple of years and scored a lot of second-place finishes and top-fives. I learned a long time ago that sometimes those things happen, so it’s better to be on a top-five streak than a 10th-place streak. The good thing about the racetrack is that it has definitely aged and the groove has spread out over the last couple of races, so you have a lot more options than you did a few years ago when they repaved it. Every time we go back there, it gets a little more racey. When we go back this time, there should be lots of room to race and you’ll see lots of speed. As we go through the restarts and traffic and different things, we’ll have to see how it all goes, but it should be interesting.”

Chassis No. 4-929:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-929 Sunday in the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Built new in 2016, Chassis No. 4-929 made its debut at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in October, when it won the pole with lap of 27.547 seconds at 196.029 mph, led 12 laps in the race, but failed to finish due to a mechanical issue. It made its second appearance in the 2016 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where it won a second consecutive pole with a lap of 30.399 seconds at 177.637 mph. In 2017, Chassis 4-929 made five starts, scoring one pole, two top-five finishes, three top-10s and a lowest finish of 14th in June at Michigan. It won its third consecutive pole with a lap of 29.118 seconds at 190.398 mph in the final round of qualifying in March at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where it dominated the majority of the event, leading 292 of 325 laps before suffering a pit-road penalty that led to a ninth-place finish. It started ninth and finished fourth in the 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In its most recent appearance, Harvick started 10th and finished 35th at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California after an early race incident with Kyle Larson resulted in extensive damage.


Michigan Notes of Interest:
· Dynamic Duo – While this isHarvick’s 18th year in the NASCAR Cup Series, it’s only his fifth with crew chief Rodney Childers. Since joining forces at SHR in 2014, Harvick and Childers have combined to produce 19 points-paying victories, 17 poles, 78 top-five finishes and 109 top-10s while leading 7,574 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. The team has qualified for the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway three of the last four seasons. The duo also won the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.


· Back-To-Back – Harvick first scored back-to-back wins this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and made it three wins in a row the following week when he reached victory lane at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. He also scored back-to-back points-paying wins at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. He scored a third straight win in when he won the non-points paying Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte.


· Three-Peat Notes – Harvick’s three consecutive wins at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix markedonly the 24th time in NASCAR’s modern era (1972 to present) that a driver won three consecutive races. Nine of the 23 previous times a driver won three consecutive races in a season, that driver has gone on to win the championship. Prior to Harvick’s three-peat, Busch was the most recent driver to win three in a row – in 2015, when he went on to score his first and, so far, only championship. Ironically, Busch has also won three straight races this season – April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, April 16 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, and April 21 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.


· Lap Leader – Kevin Harvick led his 12,000th lap in NASCAR Cup Series competition June 3 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. He is one of only 15 drivers to lead 12,000 laps in his Cup Series career. He joins Jimmie Johnson and Busch as the only two active drivers to accomplish that feat. Harvick’s laps-led total since 2014 is 7,574, which is 3,148 laps more than the total from his 13 previous seasons before joining SHR (2001 to 2013). Harvick has already led 909 laps in 2018, which ranks as the fourth-best single-season total of his career – and there are 22 races remaining.


· Harvick has career totals of 42 wins, 23 poles, 178 top-fives, 318 top-10s and 12,000 laps led in624 starts.

  • His most recent points-paying Cup Series win was May 12 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
  • His last Busch Pole also came that weekend at Kansas.

· Five Points-Paying Wins for No. 4 – Harvick’s five points-paying wins in 2018 is tied for his most wins in a season. He also won five races in 2014. This is the sixth time Harvick has scored at least four wins in a season. Harvick also scored a non-points-paying win in the Monster Energy All-Star Race for the second time in his career.


· On Point – Harvick arrives at Michigan second in in the championship with 537 points after his fourth-place finish at Pocono. Harvick now trails point leader Busch by 87 points.


· Michigan Numerology – Harvick has one win, one pole, six second-place finishes, 10 top-fives, 15 top-10s and has led a total of 323 laps in his 34 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Michigan. His average start is 15.7, his average finish is 12.7 and he has a lap-completion rate of 99.4 percent, completing 6,599 of the 6,641 laps available.


· Harvick at Michigan since 2014 – The combination of Harvick competing at Michigan in SHR equipment is impressive. In his last eight NASCAR Cup Series starts at Michigan – all of which have come with SHR – Harvick ranks first in total points with 288. He also has three runner-up finishes and only one finish worse than 14th (29th in June 2015). And of the 323 total laps Harvick has led at Michigan dating back to his rookie year in 2001, 174 (54 percent) have come with SHR despite only eight (23.5 percent) of his 34 Michigan starts being with SHR.


· Freaky Fast Qualifier – Harvick has qualified in the top-10 in every NASCAR Cup Series race this season where he has made a qualifying attempt. An accident in practice April 13 at Bristol prevented him from making a qualifying attempt. He also failed to make an attempt at Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600 due to an issue in prequalifying inspection. Harvick scored his first Busch Pole of the year at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, where he recorded a lap of 49.247 seconds at 194.448 mph. He scored his second pole of the season last week at Kansas, where he recorded a lap of 28.600 seconds at 188.811 mph.


· Starting on the Front Row – Harvick has started on the front row six times this season. The most recent came on June 3 at Pocono, where he started second to polesitter Ryan Blaney.


· Already Playoff Bound – Harvick qualified for the 2018 NASCAR playoffs with his wins at Atlanta, Phoenix, Dover and Kansas. He is tied with Busch for the series lead and will enter the playoffs with a minimum of 25 playoff points. He gained five playoff points for each race win at Atlanta, Phoenix, Dover and Kansas, and an additional point for each of his stage wins at Atlanta, Texas, Dover and Pocono (total of five). The No. 4 team’s race win at Las Vegas does not count toward the team’s playoff qualification due to a post-race penalty.


· Make Your Mark – With his win on May 12 at Kansas, Harvick stands alone at 18th on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series win list. Among active drivers, Harvick ranks third behind only series leader Johnson (83 career wins) and Busch (47 career wins).


· Earning It at SHR – Harvick has earned 19 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victories since joining SHR in 2014, in addition to the non-points-paying 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.

· 103 and Counting – Harvick scored his 100th career win in NASCAR’s top three series when he won the Cup Series race at Las Vegas and his 101st at Phoenix the following week. He now has 103 total victories – 42 Cup Series wins, 47 in the Xfinity Series and 14 in the Camping World Truck Series. Only four drivers in NASCAR history have passed 100 wins in NASCAR’s top three series: Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Busch and Harvick.

TSC PR/Photo Credit Robert Laberge/Getty Images

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