● Busch Light is a devoted supporter of America’s agricultural community, and that’s why #ForTheFarmers is emblazoned across the back of Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Ford Mustang this weekend at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Since 2019, Busch Light has been a proud partner of Farm Rescue, a non-profit that provides critical material aid to family farms. After all, farmers are the backbone of the country and share many of the values Busch Light embodies as a brand, including being hard-working and always looking out for the community. Busch Light has delivered more than $750,000 in donations to Farm Rescue in addition to working with the organization on multiple initiatives to bring awareness and funds to local farms. Since its inception in 2005, Farm Rescue has helped nearly 1,000 family farms sustain operations in times of crisis, providing hands-on assistance to farm and ranch families that have experienced a major injury, illness or natural disaster. These efforts are made possible through a network of volunteers from across the United States. Applications for assistance are currently being accepted and can be obtained at www.FarmRescue.org.
● Dorothy was right. There’s no place like home. And for Harvick, home is an intermediate racetrack. With apologies to those in Harvick’s hometown of Bakersfield, California, the veteran racer has made the intermediate tracks that comprise the majority of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule his home. Of Harvick’s 60 career NASCAR Cup Series wins, 24 have come at intermediate-style racetracks. Kansas Speedway – a sweeping, D-shaped oval that has produced high speeds and daring, side-by-side racing since its debut in 2001 – is where Harvick has earned three of those victories. Harvick has competed at the track for every one of its Cup Series races – the only driver to do so – and has amassed quite the history in his 34 career starts. In addition to his three wins, Harvick has five second-place finishes, 11 top-threes, 12 top-fives, 19 top-10s and has led 949 laps, making the driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang one of the most successful drivers in Kansas’ relatively young history. His average start is 13.4, his average finish is 9.9 and he has a lap completion rate of 96.2 percent.
● Harvick scored his first NASCAR Cup Series win at Kansas in the 2013 Hollywood Casino 400 with a massive 1.140-second margin over runner-up Kurt Busch. Harvick scored his next Kansas win in the 2016 Hollywood Casino 400 with another impressive performance, crossing the stripe 1.183 seconds ahead of next best Carl Edwards. Harvick’s most recent Kansas victory came in May 2018 when he beat Martin Truex, Jr., by .390 of a second.
● Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Kansas with three victories apiece. Only Harvick, Hamlin and Logano are still active, and only 10 of the 18 Cup Series winners at Kansas are active. Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 marks the 35th Cup Series race at Kansas.
● Harvick’s 12 top-fives at Kansas are the most among active drivers, as are his 19 top-10s. Next best in top-fives is Hamlin with 11, and when it comes to top-10s, Truex is next best with 16.
● No one has led more laps at Kansas than Harvick. His 949 laps led around the 1.5-mile oval are 122 more laps than Truex, his nearest pursuer in this category.
● Harvick is good at Kansas even outside of the NASCAR Cup Series. He has six top-fives across 11 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track, with the highlight being a victory in September 2006 when he beat Matt Kenseth for the win by .423 of a second. Kenseth retired from NASCAR upon the conclusion of the 2020 season and was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame earlier this year.
● Want to make the commercial breaks during FS1’s broadcast of the AdventHealth 400 on Sunday from Kansas work for you? So does Busch Light. The coldest and smoothest light lager is providing race fans with the chance to win some cool prizes during commercial breaks. Just follow @BuschBeeron Twitter, turn on notifications, and tweet #Break4Busch and #Sweepstakes every time there’s a commercial break for your chance to win $1,000. FS1’s coverage of the race begins at 3 p.m. EDT.
Eleven races into the 2023 season and the NASCAR Cup Series has competed on two intermediate-style ovals – Feb. 26 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and March 5 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Two months later, you’re back at an intermediate track with the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas. What are your expectations?
“I feel we’ve made some progress since Las Vegas in getting our cars a little more balanced than what they were there. But going into Kansas, we’ll have to be a little bit on defense just to maximize the day and minimize the loss because our cars have just not been as balanced as they’ve needed to be. We’ve had some time to work on that, so we’ll see what the progression looks like. We’ll be ready for some progression, but we’ll also be ready to say, ‘What do we need to do to get out of here with a decent day.’”
Your history at intermediate tracks has been really strong, particularly at Kansas. Can you pull anything from past years to where if you have to play defense, you can because you know every nook and cranny of the racetrack?
“There aren’t a lot of things that you can relate to with the car, but there are a lot of things you can relate to with the racetrack. There are a lot of races that I’ve gone back and watched from 2010, 2011 where the cars had different characteristics, and things that happen because the way you drive it and where you would drive it on the racetrack are a little bit different with this car than it was with the older cars. But you keep that playbook as open as possible in order to have some options because you can’t just say it won’t work, you can only drive it on one spot on the racetrack, especially at a place like Kansas, where you have options. So you have to be ready to create some options if you need them.”
In an ideal situation, where do you want to run at Kansas?
“You have to be good middle to the top of the racetrack in order to make good time at Kansas and be able to survive on the long run and make enough speed, so that’s what we’ll concentrate on.”
Middle to the top of the racetrack is where you want to run at Kansas, but when do you adjust that line in the event you’re getting beat?
“I’m going to always want my car to be versatile just because if you are married to that top lane and your car won’t work anywhere else, you don’t have a really good chance of making time and passing people. If you get married to that top lane and catch 15th, 16th place in the field and they’re also married to that top lane, it becomes difficult to pass and then your gaps shrink rapidly as you’re trying to make your way through the field. You need to have some versatility. If your car’s decent up top, you can make good lap times up there, regardless, and park yourself in front of the guys who are also wanting to run up the top. But if your car’s a little more versatile than others, you can kind of swing down through the middle, especially in turns three and four.”
Your history at Kansas is impressive. Three wins, five second-place finishes, 11 top-threes, 12 top-fives, 19 top-10s and 949 laps led across 34 career NASCAR Cup Series starts. What makes you so good there?
“I think Kansas has been a great racetrack and, really, from a driver’s standpoint, a fun racetrack because of the fact that it’s worn in so well. You can race at the top of the racetrack, which is the preferred groove as the tires wear out. It’s faster at the bottom of the racetrack on new tires. But as a driver, having options is something that is a lot of fun. With Atlanta having been repaved along with some of the other racetracks, Kansas has become one of the more unique racetracks because of the fact the asphalt and the shape of the racetrack is so driver-friendly, as far as where you can drive on the racetrack. You can literally drive from the wall to the apron all the way around the racetrack. So, it’s a fun racetrack. It’s been good to us and, hopefully, we can continue that trend on Sunday.”
Race strategy, particularly at Kansas, has come into play in recent races. While strategy is more in the realm of your crew chief, Rodney Childers, when it dictates a race outcome instead of sheer performance, do you have to sort of switch your mindset, perhaps by finding some patience even when you want to just go as hard as you can?
“These cars, in certain situations, have worn the tires a lot more than what they’ve done in the past. Kansas can be a high-wear racetrack just because of the way that the surface has aged, which is a great thing. So, I think for a lot of that, you’ll just have to see what the pit windows are and what the tire wear is when we go there. But it’s definitely a racey track. Those guys can see a lot more on the pit box than I can see in the car, so I usually just go with what they tell me and kind of roll from there.”