| ● Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, comes into Dover (Del.) International Speedway for the 13th race of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season riding a streak of three straight top-10 finishes. Harvick has totaled nine top-10s so far this year with a best finish of second, secured two races ago at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. |
● Harvick is streaking at Dover, too. The Bakersfield, California-native hasn’t finished outside the top-10 at Dover since a 17th-place result in October 2017. That’s a run of six straight races, bookended by a win in May 2018 and a victory in the NASCAR Cup Series’ last race at Dover on Aug. 23, 2020. During this stretch, Harvick’s worst finish is sixth, earned in October 2018. The driver of the No. 4 hasn’t finished worse than fourth in his last four Dover starts.
● Harvick will make his 41st career NASCAR Cup Series start at Dover when he takes the green flag on Sunday. The only other active driver with more Cup Series starts at Dover is Kurt Busch, who made his Cup Series debut at Dover on Sept. 24, 2000, giving him one more Dover start than Harvick. The all-time leader in Cup Series starts at Dover is Ricky Rudd with 56. Rudd made his Cup debut at Dover on May 16, 1976 and his last start at the track came on June 4, 2007, a span of 31 years.
● No active driver has led more laps at Dover than Harvick. His 1,666 laps led are 453 more laps than next best Kurt Busch. That difference is more than an entire race distance at Dover. No other active driver has cracked the 1,000 laps led mark at Dover. However, the all-time lap leader at Dover is seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson with a staggering 3,113 laps led.
● Dover’s nickname is the Monster Mile, due to its propensity to chew up and spit out even the most seasoned veteran, yet Harvick has seemingly tamed the Monster. Beyond his three wins, 10 top-fives, 21 top-10s and 1,666 laps led, Harvick has only one DNF (Did Not Finish) at Dover – and it wasn’t even a crash. It was an engine failure in the 2006 Dover 400.
● Harvick has been running at the finish in the last 60 NASCAR Cup Series races. His last DNF of any kind was back on Aug. 17, 2019 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway when a broken clutch ended his night 244 laps into the 500-lap race.
|Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing|
| You’ve won at Dover three times and have finished in the top-10 in more than half your starts there. What is it that makes you so good there?“Dover is one of those racetracks where if we don’t win, we feel like we’ve let everybody down. It’s been a great racetrack for us and we’ve had some really dumb luck there with lug nuts and valve stems, but outside of those few races, it’s been a very successful racetrack for us. I think that was Rodney’s (Childers, crew chief) goal when we got to Stewart-Haas Racing (in 2014), because he loved racing at Dover and it was always my worst racetrack when I was at RCR (Richard Childress Racing). Ever since the very first day that we’ve gone to Dover at Stewart-Haas Racing, it’s been a good racetrack for us and we’ve run well. Dover is just one of those grind-it-out-type of races. The harder you can drive it and the more aggressive that you can be lap after lap after lap by being more aggressive and consistent, you can grind a lot of them into the ground there just because 400 laps around Dover, staying focused, and being able to grind away with your racecar that hard for that long is tough mentally and physically. It’s a fun race.”|
Is there something specific about Dover that augments your driving style?“Dover is a racetrack that everything about it is unique. The concrete, itself, all the way around the racetrack, is unique. Dover is a racetrack where you can get away with being aggressive every single lap. You have to drive the car as hard as it will go every single lap, and that’s hard to do there because there are all the little bumps that come with the concrete, the change of elevation as you go in and off the corners, and all the banking in the corners – it’s just a really, really fast racetrack. It’s also a very physical racetrack just because of all the G’s and the bouncing and everything that comes with driving around Dover. It’s a racetrack where you have to have your hands gripping on the steering wheel and gritting your teeth all at the same time in order to go fast every single lap. When your car’s off, there’s just nowhere to hide there. You wind up going a lap down, probably two laps down because you pit early and then the caution comes out. It’s a beast of a racetrack and there’s a reason they call it the Monster Mile because you can get yourself in trouble really quick.”
Dover has a very unique trophy. It’s the track mascot, Miles the Monster, and he’s got the winning car held in the air. Is it one of the sport’s best trophies?“My kids love Miles. There are so many racetracks that have terrible trophies – the plastic trophies – I feel like they smash up and I’ll take them home and Keelan will be like, ‘Man, Dad, that’s a terrible trophy.’ That is not the case at Dover. They have a very unique trophy that is easily known as to what racetrack it came from and that’s what every racetrack needs.”
We had fans back last week at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and we’ll have fans again this Sunday Dover. What’s the atmosphere like with fans in the grandstands after almost a year of racing in a vacuum due to COVID-19?“I’m just like those fans. I’m ready to get out and do things, and I think as you see those fans in the grandstands and you hear that enthusiasm and excitement and cheering, just the noise of the fans moving around even when they’re not doing anything, is way better than the pure silence we had at so many of the racetracks for most of the season last year. I’m excited to see these racetracks starting to open back up. I just saw that Pocono is opening up to 100 percent. I think it’s time for everybody to open back up to 100 percent and get these fans back in the stands and enjoying everything that’s going on at the racetrack.”
Can you talk about your longstanding relationship with Hunt Brothers Pizza, as the 2021 season marks the 12th year of your partnership with them?“Our fans are pretty loyal to the brands that are on our cars. Many of my pictures come from the standees in the store. People take selfies next to them. There are a number of reasons you have sponsorships – you want that brand recognition, the brand integration. Hunt Brothers Pizza is a very family-oriented company and we’re a very family-oriented group. Those relationships you build through the years with brands that recognize and reflect what you believe in are few and far between. We’ve grown with the Hunt Brothers Pizza brand. They’ve grown with us and been very loyal to us and I think our fans are very loyal to Hunt Brothers Pizza. It’s fun to see that brand recognition and that understanding of loyalty and partnership. You realize how many Hunt Brothers Pizza stores there are as you drive to racetracks.”