|Notes of Interest|
| ● The Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders NASCAR Cup Series race Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) Raceway marks the second race of the 10-race playoffs. Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, comes into the race ranked seventh among the 16 playoff drivers, 20 points above the top-12 cutline to advance to the Round of 12. The 16-driver playoff field will be whittled down to 12 after the third playoff race Sept. 18 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. This is Harvick’s 15th playoff appearance since the inception of the playoffs in 2004, and it’s his 12 consecutive playoff appearance. Harvick has finished among the top-eight in points every year since 2010. He won the championship in 2014. |
● In the first playoff race last Sunday at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Harvick delivered a gritty fifth-place drive. How gritty? An unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel on lap 288 of the 367-lap race put him a lap down. He earned his lap back on lap 318 and rallied to fifth with a pass of Joey Logano on lap 352. Then, with two laps remaining around the 1.366-mile oval, Harvick suffered a flat right-rear tire. Despite this, Harvick stayed out and manhandled his Ford Mustang to hold onto fifth place through the checkered flag. It was Harvick’s seventh top-five and 17th top-10 of the season, and his 12th top-five and 17th top-10 in 28 career starts at Darlington. No other driver has more top-fives or top-10s at Darlington than Harvick. His nearest pursuer in this category is Denny Hamlin with 11 top-fives and 15 top-10s.
● The .75-mile Richmond oval serves as a return to short-track racing. The NASCAR Cup Series hasn’t raced on a track less than a mile in length since the series’ first visit to Richmond back on April 18. In that race, Harvick was a regular among the top-five until lap 379 when a cut right-rear tire sent him spinning into the turn-one wall. Work to repair the damage on his No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang resulted in an extended stay on pit road. By the time repairs were completed and Harvick was able to return to the track, he was scored three laps down in 24th.
● Harvick has made 745 career NASCAR Cup Series starts, with 120 of those starts coming on short tracks. And of his 58 Cup Series wins, seven have been at short tracks, with Richmond accounting for three of those victories. Harvick scored his first Richmond win in September 2006, his second in September 2011 and his third in April 2013.
● Harvick joined SHR in 2014 and has since recorded 35 of his 58 career NASCAR Cup Series wins. However, none of them have been at Richmond. But Harvick has remained stout at the .75-mile oval. In his last 14 starts at Richmond as a member of SHR, Harvick has two runner-up finishes, eight top-fives and 10 top-10s. He has only one finish outside of the top-15.
● Harvick has led 15,694 total laps in his NASCAR Cup Series career, with 1,180 of those laps coming at Richmond.
● The Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders will mark Harvick’s 41st NASCAR Cup Series start at the Virginia short track. His first start at Richmond came on May 5, 2001. That race was won by SHR co-owner Tony Stewart, who beat then three-time champion Jeff Gordon by .372 of a second. Harvick finished 17th in what was his 10th career Cup Series start. Nine of the 43 drivers in that race have since been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame – Stewart, Gordon, Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, Ron Hornaday Jr., Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte.
● Harvick is the winningest NASCAR Xfinity Series driver at Richmond with seven victories. (Kyle Busch is next best with six wins.) Harvick finished among the top-10 in all but six of his 21 career Xfinity Series starts at Richmond.
● The 2021 season marks the 12th year of partnership between Harvick and Hunt Brothers Pizza. The nation’s largest brand of made-to-order pizza in the convenience store industry has sponsored Harvick for years in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Hunt Brothers Pizza joined Harvick fulltime in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2019 and has been a mainstay in NASCAR’s premier division ever since. With more than 7,800 locations in 30 states, Hunt Brothers Pizza offers original and thin-crust pizzas available as a grab-and go Hunk, perfect for today’s on-the-go lifestyle or as a customizable whole pizza that is an exceptional value with All Toppings No Extra Charge®. Celebrating 30 years of serving great pizza to convenience store shoppers through its store partners, Hunt Brothers Pizza is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, and is family owned and operated. To find a Hunt Brothers Pizza location near you, download the app by visiting app.HuntBrothersPizza.com.
● Said Harvick about his more than decade-long partnership with Hunt Brothers Pizza: “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.”
|Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing|
| You’ve had a lot of success at Richmond and you’re a fan of short-track racing in general. What is it about Richmond that makes it a good track for you?“Through the years we’ve figured out how to get some solid finishes. We had a really good Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang there earlier this year and wound up blowing a tire and not getting a very good finish. I’m looking forward to going back just because of the fact that we ran so well there at the beginning of the year. Richmond is a little bit like Darlington just in the tire fall-off and the way the cars slow down. The line doesn’t move around very much at Richmond anymore, for whatever reason, so you have to grind away at one particular spot on the racetrack and make your car work as well as possible. It’s definitely a unique short track. It’s got enough speed to where you have to be good under braking and have a good-handling car in order to make it through the long runs that you know you’re going to get throughout the night. Hopefully, we can have a good night. Based upon the first race, we should run well.” |
The Richmond race falls on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Do you remember where you were on Sept. 11, 2001?“We were flying to Memphis to test the Xfinity car that day and we were in Mike Skinner’s airplane. It was in the middle of the flight when everything happened. We got to the airport, landed, saw everything that happened, and we all got in the van and drove 12 hours home. We never ran that test.”
As you look back on 9/11, what stands out the most?“We had so many men and women lose their lives that day, a lot of whom were first responders. I think as you look back, you just want to say thanks to all the first responders and everybody who was there to do everything they could do to help those in need. It was a tragic day, so as we go into Richmond, we have to remember and thank all those who were there during a really tough time.”
You and Kurt Busch are the only drivers in Saturday night’s race who competed in the first race after 9/11 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. What do you remember about that race?“I just remember the enthusiasm of the crowd. It was massive, and when you have the enthusiasm from a crowd like that, it’s something you never forget. Obviously, any time Dale Jr. won, it was quite the emotion from the crowd. But on that particular day, it was just different. Everything about that particular day was different. After the race, after he won, that was pretty spectacular and something that I’ll never forget, and for all the right reasons, too. And it wasn’t just Dover. The New Hampshire race got postponed to the end of the season and we raced the day after Thanksgiving, and then the banquet was still in New York. We toured Ground Zero and saw the magnitude of it all. There were just a lot of moments from that particular time period.”