Kevin Harvick Freaky Fast, Freaky Fresh Contender

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads into the second round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at Richmond (Va.) Raceway with statistics on his side.

 

Five of the past seven champions have been 37 years of age or older when they captured the Cup Series title and, though Harvick’s 39th-place finish last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway wasn’t how he wanted to start his playoff run, his Freaky Fast team is just fueling up for the fight to the finish as the team tries for its second championship in four years.

 

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion finished the 26-race regular season as the series leader with seven points-paying wins, 19 top-five finishes, 22 top-10s, 1,220 laps led and 50 playoff points, but second in total regular-season points. He is now fourth in the reset playoff standings with 2,060 points after his Las Vegas result, 38 ahead of the top-12 cutoff as he enters the penultimate race in the Round of 12 prior, which will be followed by the first elimination race at the Charlotte Motor (N.C.) Speedway “roval.”

 

Richmond has been a consistent track for Harvick through his career. In 35 Cup Series starts at the three-quarter-mile oval, Harvick owns three victories, 13 top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He has an average Richmond finish of 10.3 with 99.2 percent of laps completed. He earned his most recent Busch Pole Award at the track in April 2016.

 

In the past 10 races on tracks 1 mile or less, Harvick has led 255 laps and has completed every lap. He owns two victories – ISM Raceway near Phoenix and Dover (Del.) International Speedway, six top-five finishes and eight top-10s.

 

The Jimmy John’s team has been the freak of the field this year with its success in most every statistical category. It has embodied the essence of the freaks who work for Jimmy John’s and their obsession with making the perfect sandwich for their customers.

 

While being Freaky Fast is nothing new to Jimmy John’s employees or Harvick’s Jimmy John’s crew, they are celebrating the arrival of something new – the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub. It marks the first time Jimmy John’s has added a new bread to its lineup in more than 20 years.

 

The new 9-Grain Wheat Sub features a delicious blend of wheat, rye, flaxseed, quinoa, millet, oats, barley, amaranth and spelt, as well as honey, coconut and molasses. It is available with any Jimmy John’s sandwich at no extra charge.

 

Like the traditional French bread, the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub will be freshly baked in-store every day. It is the latest in a series of products that Jimmy John’s has rolled out this year as a part of the Freak Yeah campaign, including the popular Kickin’ Ranch®, the 16-inch Giant Sandwich and a sliced version of Jimmy John’s World-Famous Pickles, all of which can be applied to the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub.

 

More good news for Harvick and the No. 4 team is that they started the playoffs last weekend with 50 playoffs points. Those will be a huge benefit as the team attempts to advance out of the Round of 16 and into the Round of 12. In fact, the playoff points could be beneficial through each of the first three rounds as long as the team advances.

 

Therefore, Harvick and the No. 4 team have their goals set for this weekend’s race – to earn stage points and get their Freaky Fast Ford back to victory lane at Richmond.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Why has Richmond caused so many run-ins over the years, or conflicts between drivers? Will there be more drama this year as it becomes a playoff race?

“I don’t really know. For us, it’s really the same as any other race. You want to go there and prepare the best you can. Being a short track, it’s just one of those places where sometimes you have to move somebody out of the way and sometimes that doesn’t go over well. Any time you have short-track racing, there are going to be things that happen and that should be interesting in the second week of the playoffs.”

 

Is it better to race with your emotions in check?

“I think, emotionally, you can get yourself in trouble. Especially for me, to have those emotions under control opens the door for less noise. I can deal with the noise, but I don’t like the noise and disruption that comes with that noise for my team because they have to start answering questions and looking at things on the Internet to take their focus off of what is most important. It’s most important for them to focus on the details of the car. Having a good mental mindset is something I’ve been working on over the past month and a half to make sure that mentally I was ready to be relaxed and focused.”

Chassis No. 4-021:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-021 in the Federated Auto Parts 400 Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. Built new in 2018, Chassis No. 4-021 made its NASCAR Cup Series debut at Richmond in April, when it started 10th, led eight laps and finished fifth. Harvick drove the chassis to victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon in its second start of the season, when he started 14th, led 12 laps and moved Kyle Busch out of the way in the closing laps to secure the win by 1.877 seconds.
Richmond 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 21 points-paying victories, the non-points-paying 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, 17 poles, 87 top-five finishes and 120 top-10s while leading 7,899 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.

 

· Harvick has career totals of 44 wins, 23 poles, 187 top-fives, 329 top-10s and 12,325 laps led in637 starts.

  • His most recent Cup Series win came at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (Aug. 12, 2018).
  • His last Busch Pole came at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City (May 11, 2018).

· On Point – Harvick arrives at Richmond (Va.) Raceway fourth in points with 2,060 and is now 38 points ahead of 13th-place Jimmie Johnson with two races remaining in the opening round of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

 

· Jimmy John’s New 9-Grain Wheat Sub Back at Richmond: This weekend, the No. 4 Jimmy John’s new 9-Grain Wheat Sub Ford Fusion features a brand-new product from the Illinois-based sandwich shop. The arrival of the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub marks the first time Jimmy John’s has added new bread to its lineup in more than 20 years. The No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion will feature the new 9-Grain Wheat Sub on the rear quarter panels in place of its standard “Freaky Fast” tagline. The new 9-Grain Wheat Sub features a delicious blend of wheat, rye, flaxseed, quinoa, millet, oats, barley, amaranth and spelt, as well as honey, coconut and molasses. It is available with any Jimmy John’s sandwich at no extra charge.

 

· Richmond Numerology – Harvick has three wins, one pole, 13 top-five finishes, 22 top-10s and has led a total of 1,069 laps in his 35 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond. His average start is 14.1, his average finish is 10.3 and he has a lap-completion rate of 99.2 percent, completing 13,904 of the 14,022 laps available.

 

· Harvick at Richmond since 2014 – The combination of Harvick competing at Richmond Raceway in SHR equipment is impressive. In his last nine NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond – all of which have come with SHR – Harvick has six top-five finishes and led 124 laps. And of the 1,069 laps Harvick has led at Richmond dating back to his rookie year in 2001, a total of 124 (nearly 12 percent) have come with SHR despite only nine (nearly 26 percent) of his 35 Richmond starts being with SHR. Since joining SHR, Harvick ranks tied for first with six top-five finishes, ranks third in total points with 326 and fourth in average finish of7.4.

 

· Uncharted Territory With Seven Points-Paying Wins for No. 4 – Harvick’s seven points-paying wins in 2018 is a new single-season best for the 18-year Cup Series veteran. His previous high-water mark was five races, accomplished first in 2006 and again 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 NASCAR All-Star Race May 19 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the second time in his career. Harvick’s series-best seven wins in 2018 is one more than points-leader Busch, who scored his sixth win of the season at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in July.

 

· Freaky Fast Busch Pole Qualifier – Harvick has started on the front row seven times this season. The most recent came Sept. 10 at Indianapolis, where he started second to polesitter Kyle Busch after rain cancelled qualifying and the field was set according to the NASCAR rulebook. He has started in the top-10 in 20 of the 27 NASCAR Cup Series races this season. Harvick scored his first Busch Pole Award 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 at Kansas, where he recorded a lap of 28.600 seconds at 188.811 mph.

 

· Three-Peat Notes – Harvick’s consecutive wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway near Phoenix marked only 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 consecutive races this season – April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, April 16 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, and April 21 at Richmond. Brad Keselowski also joined the group with wins at the last three stops on the tour – Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Indianapolis and Las Vegas.

 

· Lap Leader –Harvick led his 12,000th lap in NASCAR Cup Series competition June 3 at Pocono. He is one of only 15 drivers to lead 12,000 laps in his Cup Series career. He joins Johnson, Busch and Matt Kenseth as the only active drivers to accomplish that feat. Harvick’s laps-led total since 2014 is 7,863, which is 3,437 laps more than the total from his 13 previous seasons before joining SHR (2001 to 2013). Harvick has already led a series-best 1,198 laps in 2018 and has now surpassed 1,000 laps led in a season for the fourth time in his career. He’s done it three previous times, all with SHR.

 

· Playoff Bound – Harvick qualified for the 2018 NASCAR playoffs with his wins at Atlanta, Phoenix, Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Kansas, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, and Michigan. He leads the Cup series in playoff points with 50. He gained 10 playoff points for finishing the 26-race regular season in second, five playoff points for each race win at Atlanta, Phoenix, Dover, Kansas, New Hampshire and Michigan, and an additional point for each of his stage wins at Atlanta, Texas, two at Dover in May, Pocono in June, Michigan in June, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, Pocono in August and two at Michigan in August (total of 10). The No. 4 team’s race win at Las Vegas does not count toward its playoff qualification due to a post-race penalty.

 

· Make Your Mark – With his win Aug. 12 at Michigan, Harvick is now tied with Bill Elliott at 17th on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series win list. Harvick’s next win would move him into sole possession of 17th on the all-time list and he now sits just two wins behind Buck Baker’s 46 for 16th on the all-time wins list. Among active drivers, Harvick’s 44 career wins rank third behind only series leader Johnson’s 83 and Busch’s 49 wins.

 

· 105 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 105 total victories after his most recent Cup Series win at Michigan – 44 in the Cup Series, 47 in the Xfinity Series and 14 in the Camping World Truck Series. Only three other drivers in NASCAR history have passed 100 wins in NASCAR’s top-three series: Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and Busch.

 

· Harvick’s Happy Hours on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio – Harvick is in his second year as the co-host of the award-winning radio program Happy Hours on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel 90. The show debuted on March 28, 2017. It airs 7 to 9 p.m. ET on Tuesdays and features Harvick’s distinctive perspective on the 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. On April 12, the show won the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards “Radio Program” category. Other finalists in the category included SiriusXM’s Basketball and Beyond with Coach K, as well as the Dan Le Batard Show, Dan Patrick Show and Jim Rome Show.

TSC PR/Photo Credit Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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