● Kevin Harvick has a stout track record at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, especially in his time since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2014. In his last 15 NASCAR Cup Series races at the 1.5-mile oval – all of which have come with SHR – Harvick has only two finishes outside the top-10. That first result came in the 2020 AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500, when Harvick finished 16th after his No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang slipped off turn two while leading and brushed the outside wall as a heavy mist made the track slick. Harvick rebounded in his next points-paying start at Texas, finishing fifth in the 2021 AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500. His other result outside the top-10 came last September when he finished 19th. In the 12 races prior to that 2020 race where Harvick finished 16th, he scored nine top-fives, three of which were wins, while three others were second-place results.
● In those three wins at Texas – November 2017, 2018 and 2019 – Harvick led a total of 334 laps, which is the exact same lap total for a 500-mile race at Texas. This weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas is 400 miles, which translates to 67 fewer laps.
● Prior to joining SHR, Harvick’s laps-led total at Texas was five, earned over the course of 22 races. In his 16 Texas starts since being a part of SHR, Harvick has led 686 laps. His total of 691 laps led at Texas is the second-most among all NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Only Kyle Busch has led more laps at the track (1,069).
● Before joining SHR, Harvick’s best finish at Texas was third (November 2016). It was one of just three top-fives and 11 top-10s he had at the track.
● Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 will mark Harvick’s 39th NASCAR Cup Series start at Texas, the most among all Cup Series drivers, past and present. It will be Harvick’s 820th career Cup Series start, which puts him eighth all-time behind only Richard Petty (1,185 starts), Ricky Rudd (906), Terry Labonte (890), Dave Marcis (883), Mark Martin (882), Kyle Petty (829) and Bill Elliott (828).
● Harvick also leads all NASCAR Cup Series drivers – past and present – in top-10s at Texas with 24. Next best on this list is Kurt Busch with 23 top-10s, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 22.
● Harvick is good at Texas even outside of the NASCAR Cup Series. He has five wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and has led a total of 779 laps, the second-most among all drivers despite not competing in an Xfinity Series race at Texas since 2018. Only Kyle Busch has led more laps in Xfinity Series competition at Texas (1,795). Busch led those laps across 23 starts while Harvick earned his tally in 21 starts. In four NASCAR Truck Series starts at Texas, Harvick owns a win (November 2011) and one other top-five – a fourth place drive in his first Truck Series start at the track in June 1998 when he was just 22 years old and still three years away from his Cup Series debut.
● The 2023 season marks the 14th 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 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 9,000 locations across the country, Hunt Brothers Pizza offers original and thin crust pizzas available as a grab-and-go Hunk A Pizza®, 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®. Hunt Brothers Pizza is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, and is family owned and operated. For additional information, visit www.HuntBrothersPizza.com or download the app.
● 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 have 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.”
You’re out of the playoffs, but racing continues. Without a championship to strive for, how do you stay motivated through these final seven races?
“That’s just something from when I wrestled in high school and raced our Late Models, it was always pounded into my head that it’s OK to not be good, but it’s not OK to quit. It’s never OK to not give it 100 percent. It’s never OK to quit grinding away for every single second of whatever it is you’re doing because you’re letting yourself down. And in this deal, you’re not only letting yourself down, you’re letting your whole team down, and I think that’s contagious because nobody ever lets down. We can be off and struggling in a race, but we can keep ourselves on the lead lap and have a good pit stop and all of a sudden show up and finish fourth or fifth at the end of a race just because five or six of them have crashed and we’ve ground away all day at the little things and made our car a little bit better and hung in there and all of a sudden here we are. Sometimes it’s just about grinding away and doing the little things right. You don’t have to be the fastest, but if you just do more right than everybody else, you’re probably going to be pretty successful. There are a lot of details that go into what we do to be good. Even with a slow car, you can still find 100 details to make a slow car faster, and sometimes making a slow car faster is OK on certain days. Every day is different. Every day you have to find something to improve on and it’s a constant improvement.”
Back in 2017, Texas was repaved and turns one and two were reconfigured. How has the track aged since then, and has it changed how you drive the track?
“It changed where you drive on the racetrack. You move up the racetrack, so you don’t have to be as technical through (turns) one and two as you used to. Just put it on the grip strip and hope for the best. It’s still a good racetrack for us, still a lot of good things that have happened for us, and hopefully we can continue that.”
Explain a lap around Texas – specifically, how you approach turns one and two and how you approach turns three and four?
“Texas is unique in the fact the two ends are so different. When they changed the racetrack, they made the width of the racetrack a lot wider through (turns) one and two than what it used to be. It’s a lot flatter, as well. It’s a very technical corner both in order to get your car positioned correctly and in order to make your car turn and stay in the throttle. You have to have your car handling on one end, and on the other end you just have to be pretty brave and hold the throttle down.”
Your track record at Texas is impressive. What makes you so good there?
“Texas has been a good racetrack for us – old configuration, new configuration – and it’s one of those places that has just fit what we do. Hopefully, it’s the same way this year, but Texas has been a lot of fun to race at for us.”