KEVIN HARVICK – 2017 Charlotte I XFINITY Race Report

Harvick Finishes Second at Charlotte

Hunt Brothers Pizza Driver Scores Third NASCAR XFINITY Series Top-Five of 2017

Date: May 27, 2017
Event: Hisense 4K TV 300 (Round 10 of 33)
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/200 laps)
Start/Finish: 5th/2nd (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)

Race Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Ends on Lap 45):
●  Started fifth, finished first.
●  The No. 41 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang raced to the lead on lap 8.
●  Kevin Harvick held the lead for the remainder of Stage 1.
●  Richard Boswell, No. 41 crew chief, called Harvick to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment at the end of Stage 1.
●  Traffic on pit road cost Harvick the lead following the Stage 1 pit stop.

Stage 2 Recap (Ends on Lap 90):  
●  Started third, finished fourth.
●  Harvick struggled to regain position as the Hunt Brothers Ford was loose off  the corner in traffic.
●  The Hunt Brothers Pizza team pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment following Stage 2.

Final Stage Recap (Ends on Lap 200):        
●  Started fourth, finished second.
●  Harvick raced his way up to the third position by lap 120.
●  He gained a position thanks to a fast pit stop by the Hunt Brothers Pizza pit crew on lap 126 and restarted second.
●  Harvick made the pass for the lead on lap 181 and held it until the final restart.

●  Harvick scored his eighth top-five finish in 28 NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
●  It is his 181st top-five finish in 338 XFINITY Series starts.
●  Harvick led three times for 58 laps.
●  Harvick’s SHR teammate Cole Custer was the highest-finishing rookie with a seventh-place finish. It was his fifth top-10 finish in 15 career XFINITY Series starts and his third top-10 finish of 2017.
●  This is Harvick’s third XFINITY Series start for Stewart-Haas Racing.
●  The race featured 12 lead changes among seven drivers and 12 cautions for 52 laps.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 41 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“I knew I was in a pickle there with the 22 behind on the outside and I knew the 12 had the best car taking off.  He’s actually the one who helped us get the lead, pushing us to the lead, so I didn’t really know what to do.  He just wound up beating us there on the restart and that’s pretty much it.  I’m just really proud of everybody on our Hunt Brothers Ford.  I feel like we were better than the last time we came out and led a bunch of laps and were in contention all day and just didn’t finish it off there over the last few laps.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2017 Charlotte I XFINITY Race Advance

Event:             Hisense 4K TV 300
Date:               Saturday, May 27, 2017
Location:        Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway
Layout:           1.5-mile oval

Kevin Harvick Notes of Interest

  • Hunt Brothers Pizza makes second start with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) as a primary sponsor with driver Kevin Harvick.
  • Harvick is making his third of six scheduled XFINITY Series starts in the No. 41 Ford Mustang for SHR in 2017.
  • He scored a fourth-place finish at Atlanta in March and a third-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in April in his two XFINITY Series starts of 2017.
  • Harvick is looking for his first XFINITY Series win at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
  • He has started from the pole position at Charlotte on three occasions (May 2001, May and October 2003).
  • His XFINITY Series career includes 46 wins, 180 top-five finishes, 252 top-10s, 25 poles and 9,386 laps led in 337 starts.
  • Harvick will be joined Saturday by SHR teammate Cole Custer in the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang at Texas.


Kevin Harvick, Driver No. 41 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang 

“I’m ready to get back behind the wheel of the No. 41 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford. We had a good test at Charlotte a couple weeks ago and the No. 41 guys are working hard to make our cars better each and every time we go out. (Richard) Boswell (crew chief) has really been working hard, just for the fact that he’s building a team from scratch and we should have a great shot at running up front and competing for SHR’s first XFINITY win.”

Richard Boswell, Crew Chief, No. 41 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang

What has the No. 41 Hunt Brothers Pizza team been doing since its last start at Texas Motor Speedway?

“We went and tested Charlotte with Kevin a couple weeks ago. That kept us busy. You prepare for a test the same way you prepare for a race. Last week we went and tested with the No. 00 guys at Darlington, so we’ve been staying plenty busy. Between our tests and now, we’ve again done everything we can to prepare to go to the racetrack. Although we haven’t been at the racetrack, we’ve been doing plenty to keep us busy.”

Is it extra motivation to try and get Kevin his first XFINITY Series win at Charlotte?

“He made sure to let us know that he’s never won in the XFINITY Series at Charlotte during the test we had there. Every week we go to the track, we go with what we think is the best. Obviously, with a test under our belts, it gives us that much more stuff to look at with Kevin and our car, so that always helps. Anytime you take Kevin to the track, if you don’t feel confident, then we haven’t done a good enough job. We are confident. We feel like we go there just like we did with Atlanta and Texas with a good car, a great driver, and it boils down to the last few laps of these things. Anything can happen. We are very confident that he can get it done. We just found out that they’re putting some track prep down, so that’ll change things from the test, obviously, as far as the top lanes go. Fortunately, we ran the top of turns one and two at the test, anyway, so hopefully that plays into our favor some.”

How did the test go for the team?

“It went well. It started off a little shaky but, once we got the balance closer, the speed was very close. We concentrated mainly on long runs. I think our last three runs were 20-plus laps. A lot of the other teams concentrated on five- or six-lap runs to get the speed there, so we feel like what we may lack in the first five or six laps we’ll make up for at the end of the run. We feel good about that.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2017 Charlotte I Race Advance

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is going to the Coca-Cola 600 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this weekend looking for performance, reliability and success. Luckily, the No. 4 Ford Fusion is riding with Mobil 1, a partner with a proven track record of those traits, on the hood and in the engine of the car as Harvick attempts to tackle the longest, most grueling race on the Cup Series schedule.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s technology partnership with Mobil 1 is a unique combination of experience, expertise and innovative thinking that strives to consistently deliver performance-enhancing results on the track. The partnership allows the SHR teams to head into the series’ only 600-mile event with a level of confidence that its cars will be there to compete at the end.

Mobil 1 continues to perform rigorous testing with the SHR teams in the garage with its products and support to improve on-track performance, including the reduction of frictional loss in the engines to maximize fuel mileage, increase horsepower and turn more revolutions per minute (RPMs). Mobil 1 works to reduce engine temperatures to increase engine efficiency. The products allow the No. 4 racecar to reduce rolling resistance, which contributes to increased acceleration on restarts on the way to reaching top speed.

The Mobil 1 products reduce friction in the suspension components, as well, providing maximum tire grip and helping to reduce steering compliance to give precision control and improved handling for Harvick behind the wheel.

Harvick and the No. 4 team hope the benefits provided by Mobil 1 products and technology will help carry them to victory lane in the Sunday’s traditional Memorial Day-weekend event, during which their racecar will honor a fallen soldier on the windshield header as part of NASCAR’s “600 Miles of Remembrance” initiative.

The name of Capt. Brent Morel of the United States Marine Corps will be featured on the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion this weekend.

Morel, who lived in McKenzie, Tennessee, was killed in action on April 7, 2004, when his platoon was ambushed during a reconnaissance mission in the Sunni Triangle in Fallujah, Iraq.

He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism as Platoon Commander, 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1 Maine Expeditionary Force, United States Marine Corps Forces, Central Command in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Morel left his vehicle and led a determined assault across an open field and up a 10-foot berm in order to maneuver into firing position. The boldness of his first assault eliminated several insurgents at close range, forcing their retreat. Observing his Marines pinned down from enemy fire, he left the safety of his position and continued the assault, eliminating the enemy’s attack.

During this valiant act, he fell mortally wounded by a withering burst of enemy automatic weapons fire. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Morel reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Morel graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1999 with a degree in history. He became a commissioned officer in the Marines the following week. Another week later, he married Amy Mullins.

While Harvick has raced up front and scored three stage wins this year, he is still in search of his first Cup Series race win of the season. He has two Coca-Cola 600 wins in his Cup Series career and would like to add his third this weekend to add to his history of performance, reliability and success in one of NASCAR’s top races on Sunday afternoon.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What does it mean to honor and remember a military member on your No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion this weekend?

“There isn’t any sport that honors the military any better than NASCAR. I know a lot of sports do a lot of things for our military but, when you roll into this particular weekend with the Coke 600 and you are a part of the celebration and remembrance for all the things that have happened with our military, to see the support that NASCAR and everybody in our garage gives the military, especially on this particular weekend, is something that gives you goosebumps. We are honored to carry the names on our cars.”

Is the Coca-Cola 600 more physically or mentally challenging?

“It just depends on how hot it is, honestly. If it’s a good weekend and the weather is nice, then it’s more mentally challenging than physically challenging. Either way, it’s still challenging both mentally and physically in some way, shape or form. The hardest part mentally is just getting yourself to overcome those last hundred miles because you are used to the 400- or 500-mile races.”

What do you think of Charlotte adding VHT to the racetrack in an attempt to build an outside groove?

“I think that’s a good game plan. Adding VHT to the outside groove and the middle groove, the only groove that was there for the All-Star race was the bottom groove. I went up there and tried the middle and tried the top, and while you could go through there, you just couldn’t make any speed like you could on the bottom. You have to applaud NASCAR, Charlotte Motor Speedway and everybody for trying to make the racing better. I think it’s definitely going to do something. I think, as you look at it, it’s definitely going to make a difference and hopefully it widens the racetrack out and we can have grooves all over the track.”

DANICA PATRICK – 2017 Charlotte I Race Advance

The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend has long been a special day for racing enthusiasts around the world. Considered by many as the “Greatest Day in Motorsports,” it starts with the Grand Prix of Monaco, where Formula One drivers navigate through the streets of Monte Carlo. That’s followed by the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the day closes with the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule, at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

Racing on Memorial Day weekend is nothing new for Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), as she’s done it at the professional level for many years. For seven years, Patrick competed in the 500-mile race at Indianapolis, and on Sunday Patrick will make her sixth start in the Coca-Cola 600.

In the seven years Patrick competed in the IndyCar Series, nowhere did she perform better than in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” In May 2005, she stunned the world by leading three times for 19 laps and finishing fourth in her first “500” – becoming the first woman to lead laps and score a top-five finish in the iconic race.

She set numerous records during her Indy 500 debut and set the tone early when she posted the fastest lap on the opening day of practice. She went on to set the fastest practice lap five times throughout the month, including Pole Day and Carburetion Day. On race day, with 11 laps remaining in the 200-lap event, Patrick blew past leader Dan Wheldon and held the point until lap 194, when she was forced to slow down in order to conserve fuel to make it to the finish. Her efforts earned her Rookie of the Year honors.

All told, Patrick scored six top-10 finishes in seven starts at Indianapolis and qualified 10th or better five times. Her third-place result in 2009 is the best finish ever for a woman in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

For the sixth consecutive year, however, Memorial Day weekend will be different for Patrick, as she’ll watch the Indy 500 on television as she prepares to race in the Coca-Cola 600.

When Patrick hits the track this weekend, her No. 10 Ford will carry the colors of Code 3 Associates, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to providing professional animal disaster response and resources to communities, as well as administering professional training to individuals and agencies involved in animal-related law enforcement and emergency response. Its mission is accomplished through hands-on animal rescue and care operations during disaster events in the United States and Canada, and through certified animal welfare training seminars, which include animal cruelty training for investigators.

While Patrick’s best result in the Coca-Cola 600 is a 21st-place effort she earned last May, her best finish at the track is an 11th-place result she scored last October in the Bank of America 500.

Entering Sunday’s race, Patrick and the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford team hope to improve on last fall’s performance at Charlotte and close out the night celebrating the “Greatest Day in Motorsports” with an ice-cold Coca-Cola.


DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:


The Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race on the NASCAR schedule. Do you notice those last 100 miles?

“The Coca-Cola 600 is obviously our longest race, but it very much depends on how the car feels. If the car feels good and you’re racing hard and trying to have a great finish at the end of the night, that’s one thing. I’ve also been in some where there’s crash damage and you just can’t get out of the way fast enough and those last 100 miles seem like 400. So, it very much depends on the state of your race. Hopefully, it feels like it just (snaps fingers) whizzes right by this year.” 

What are your overall thoughts about racing at Charlotte? 

“I like Charlotte. It’s really nice for the crews because it’s a home race for them. They get to sleep in their own bed and a lot of their family and friends are there. So, you want to give them a good performance. It’s fun for me at Charlotte because a lot of the crews have young kids, so it’s fun to meet them and see them around the hauler during the race weekend. It’s just a bit of a different experience than a lot of the tracks we go to.”


How much do you pay attention to the goings-on with the Indianapolis 500, even though it’s a few hours before you have to go racing yourself?

“I definitely set up my race day for the Coca-Cola 600 to accommodate the Indy 500. I like to watch the beginning and, of course, I like to watch the end, so usually I’ll pop on out for a couple meet-and-greets during the middle of the race, but I do really like to watch it all. I have such great memories of the Indy 500 and that’s why I also like going back to Indy in a stock car.” 

Do you have any desire to go back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in an Indy car to compete in the Indy 500?  

“I feel so lucky to have competed in the event with great teams and some luck every now and again that I almost won the Indy 500 a couple of times and was always very competitive. I don’t want to do anything to take away from that just to participate. I don’t race to just participate, so if I felt like I had an opportunity to win, you never know. But I’m not necessarily seeking that out, so it would just have to kind of fall in my lap, I think.” 

Last year and again this year, there is a real reason to more than just tune in to the F1 race in Monaco. Your team owner Gene Haas will again be a part of the event with Haas F1 Team. How much do you pay attention to Monaco before you switch gears to Indy, and then finally switch gears to the Coke 600? 

“Usually Monaco comes on at home when I’m making breakfast in the morning because we’re racing in Charlotte, and since we all pretty much live here, you end up watching that at home during breakfast. Then you go to the track and have lunch and watch the Indy 500 and then you have a quick bite before you go out for the Coca-Cola 600. We watch them all. We might not catch every lap, of course, but we watch them all.” 

Looking at Memorial Day, what’s that day like for you as you prepare for the Coca-Cola 600?

“For race day, I like to carve out as much time as I can to watch the Indy 500. It’s an amazing event. I can still put myself there and feel it when I watch the race. I like to watch and see how the drivers I know are doing. It’s a great race. It’s just part of tradition. I do have to do meet-and-greets and stuff like that on race day, but I usually try to schedule them early, or during the middle of the race, so I can watch the end, for sure.”

How challenging is the Coca-Cola 600? 

“A lot is made about the Coca-Cola 600 being another 100 miles longer and it being a long race. We have a lot of races that are already 500 miles long and we have a lot of races that go from day to night, so it’s really not unfamiliar territory. It can make a bad day worse if the race is even longer. If the car is good, then the day is easy. It never feels all that long and, hopefully, it’s not super-hot out. Other than that, it’s just another race, honestly. But, it is a big event that you want to do well at.”

COLE CUSTER – 2017 Charlotte I Race Advance

Event: Hisense 4K TV 300 (Round 10 of 33)
Date: May 27, 2017
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway
Layout: 1.5-mile oval

Cole Custer Notes of Interest

  • The Hisense 4K TV 300 will mark Cole Custer’s 15th career NASCAR XFINITY Series start and his second XFINITY Series start at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
  • In Custer’s first XFINITY Series start at Charlotte, he led one lap around the 1.5-mile oval and finished a career-best fourth. He was the highest-placing XFINITY Series regular behind Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon and Joey Logano.
  • Custer’s best finish in the nine XFINITY Series races run this season is fifth, earned in the sixth event April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. It was his fourth top-10 and second top-five finish in 14 career XFINITY Series starts.
  • Custer is fourth in the XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year standings, 27 points behind leader William Byron and two points behind third-place Matt Tifft. He has earned two Rookie of the Race awards this season at 1.5-mile tracks (fifth at Texas Motor Speedway and 11th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway).
  • Custer is 12th in the NASCAR XFINITY Series driver standings, 165 points behind series leader Elliot Sadler.
  • Custer’s best qualifying effort in the nine XFINITY Series races run this season is third, earned in the seventh race of the season April 22 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Custer has five top-10 starts and two top-five starts this season.
  • In seven XFINITY Series starts and nine Camping World Truck Series starts at 1.5-mile tracks, Custer has three top-five finishes and eight top-10s.
  • Custer has earned three of his best finishes this season at 1.5-mile tracks – Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (fifth), Atlanta Motor Speedway (10th) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (11th).

Cole Custer, Driver Q&A

Some of your best finishes in your XFINITY Series career have been at 1.5-mile tracks. Why is that?

“I think we’ve unloaded some great cars at the 1.5-mile tracks, which seems to be our strong suit this year. The team has given me some great Haas Automation Ford Mustangs that have helped me adapt to the track faster than I normally would. The team has done a great job with the cars and it has given me the opportunity to race up front.”

What is a lap around Charlotte Motor Speedway like?

“I would say it’s a really edgy racetrack. Age-wise, it’s in the middle of a grippy track and a really worn-out track. It has a lot of tiny, high-speed bumps throughout the track that will upset the car. It’s a really challenging place to get around. Honestly, it’s one of the most difficult tracks I’ve been to. You have to hit your lines and your marks just right, but it’s a fun track.”

What are your thoughts on racing at Charlotte?

“Coming back to Charlotte is pretty important because you have all of the shop members around and all of their families and friends. It’s an important race for everybody and everyone wants to step their game up to win here. On the other hand, you may have a few more distractions being home with family all around, but it’s great having all of your friends around at the race.”


Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A

You were raised in Concord, North Carolina, just a few miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Tell us about your background in racing.

“I started racing at the Concord Motorsports Park when I was 16 years old in the Street Stock division. I raced that division for a few years, then moved up to the Super Late Model division and ran that for about 10 years.”

What are your thoughts on racing at Charlotte?

“I’ve attended every race at Charlotte for as long as I can remember. For that reason alone, it makes the track special to me – the fact that I can sleep in my own bed over the race weekend is just a bonus. We are bringing the car that we were running well with in California before getting wrecked. Our fabrication shop hung a new Mustang body on it and I feel like it’s the best Haas Automation Ford in our fleet. We had a good test in Charlotte at the beginning of the month so, going in, I feel really good about the weekend.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2017 Charlotte I Race Advance

Clint Bowyer is as big of a racing fan as anyone sitting in the grandstands or watching on television. The Emporia, Kansas native races in NASCAR, runs his own Dirt Late Model team, and has his motorhome television dialed into racing most of the time. He can’t wait for Sunday.

Like everyone else, he will tune in early Sunday morning when Formula One takes the green flag in Monaco, followed by the Indianapolis 500 at noon. A few hours later, he’ll leave the couch to put on his Haas Automation Ford uniform and climb in his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) No. 14 Ford.

Bowyer and 39 other Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers will battle for 600 miles Sunday night in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

“Sunday is just a hell of a day of racing,” Bowyer said with a laugh. “You have one of the coolest races in Formula One in Monte Carlo, and then it’s the Indianapolis 500 – it’s one of their coolest races. Actually, no, it is their coolest race. And then the 600’s one of ours. I mean, it’s just a – It’s a hell of a day of racing.”

Bowyer has a rooting interest Sunday morning in Monaco. Haas F1 Team is owned by SHR co-owner Gene Haas and fields cars for Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.

“I’ve always been a fan of F1 and admired what they do, but now that the boss has cars in it and is competing in it, you follow and pull for those guys even that much more,” Bowyer said.

After the Formula One race, Bowyer will watch the Indianapolis 500 in his motorcoach from the infield in Charlotte.

“Having the Indy 500 leading up to our 600 is awesome for a race fan and, hey, I’m a race fan,” he said. “Who’s not, right? I want to watch that race, and do. The last few years have been phenomenal.”

Normally, he’ll begin his sponsor and media obligations for the Cup Series race during the closing laps of the Indy 500, but he’ll keep a close eye on the ending.

“I remember I was with one of the sponsors, doing a hospitality deal already, and looking over peoples’ shoulders at the TV behind me, trying to focus on what I’m supposed to be talking about, and selling the 600, how we’re going to run there,” Bowyer said. “And, oh, by the way, trying to see who’s going to win the Indy 500.”

Bowyer is in his first season driving for SHR replacing three-time champion Tony Stewart, who retired from NASCAR at the end of the 2016 season. Stewart, who raced in five Indy 500s, plans to attend Indy on Sunday, then arrive in Charlotte before the start of the 600 race.

Make no mistake – by the time the green flag drops in Charlotte for NASCAR’s longest race of the season, Bowyer will be all business. He won at Charlotte in October 2012 and owns two top-five finishes and five top-10s and has led 119 laps. Last week in the NASCAR All-Star Race, Bowyer finished 13th after winning Stage 1 in the NASCAR Monster Energy Open. It marked the third time in four seasons Bowyer advanced from the Open to the All-Star Race.

Last week’s racing was about speed over a short distance. Sunday’s race is the longest the drivers will race all season. Bowyer said the strain of the extra distance is as much mental as physical.

“It just depends on how your ole’ hot rod is, how your night’s going,” he said. “The Coca-Cola 600 can be one of those deals where you feel like you could’ve gone another three or four hours, or it’s one of those where it’s like, ‘My God, is this thing ever going to end?’ You hope it’s the way I was describing before. You hope it’s, ‘This is easy,’ and wish it’d lasted a couple more hours.”

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:


What are your thoughts on the 600?

“I think you saw from the All-Star Race that track position is going to be key. But we will have longer green-flag runs Sunday and handling will come into play. We had a really good car last week. If we could have gotten out front in the All-Star Race like we did in the Open, then we would have been tough to handle.”

Do you have any desire to compete in the Indianapolis 500?

“No. No, I don’t. Open wheels just doesn’t make much sense to me. No. They fly. I don’t like that. Flying’s just for – flying is for airplanes.”

KURT BUSCH – 2017 Charlotte I Race Advance

When Kurt Busch, driver of the Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), takes to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, the site of Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, he will do so in the very first, all in-house-built No. 41 Ford Fusion.

For Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation, the largest computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine-tool builder in North America, the term “very first” has significance. It goes back to the first machine manufactured by Haas Automation, the VF-1, in 1988. The “V” stands for vertical, which is an industry standard designation for a vertical mill. Haas added “F1” to the name to unofficially designate it as the company’s “Very First One.”

The tradition continued when Haas was granted a Formula One license by the FIA. When Haas F1 Team unveiled its “Very First Racecar” at preseason testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, it was billed as the “VF-16” to mark both the milestone and the season it debuted.

So this weekend, Busch will attempt to duplicate the success Haas’ other very first ones have had. And he’ll do so in one of the most demanding races on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Aside from the distinction of being the longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600 is also one of the most prestigious events on the circuit due in no small part to its durability implications – it’s a race that tests man and machine.

Endurance is a concept with which competitors in the NASCAR Cup Series are well acquainted. Every race run tests the endurance of its drivers, whether they’re racing 300, 400 or 500 miles. That weekly test gets a little more aggressive as the series prepares for its marathon 600-mile race.

Busch is among the drivers who have met the challenges that come with competing in the 600, winning the 2010 version of the annual Memorial Day-weekend event. After just missing out on the pole that year, Busch started second and wasted no time jumping to the lead. He took over the top spot on lap 12 and led the next 40 laps before surrendering the lead briefly for a round of green-flag pit stops. Busch owned the lead 12 different times for a race-high 252 laps, including the final 19. With the win, he became the seventh driver in series history to follow a victory in the NASCAR All-Star Race with a win in the 600 a week later.

So, while another triumph Sunday would put Busch in elite company with drivers Richard Petty, Fred Lorenzen, Neil Bonnett, Jim Paschal, Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick as a two-time Coca-Cola 600 winner, it would also do much more than that for his 2017 championship hopes, as it would give Busch and his No. 41 team a second victory in 2017 and another five valuable bonus points for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.


KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:


What are your thoughts about the Coke 600 this weekend?

“This weekend’s race is a big one and, being that it’s here in our backyard, it’s almost like a hometown race for everybody. All of the guys who work at the shop and don’t get to go to the track on a weekly basis usually get to come out and see all of their hard work on display. You want to really put the banner up for your team.”

What do you do to get ready for what is the longest race of the year?

“It’s just a marathon mentality. It’s the exact opposite of the All-Star Race. The race starts during the daytime and, even if you’re getting behind early in the race – although you can’t get too far behind – it’s difficult to find a setup that works well at both the beginning and end of the race because of how much the track changes from start to finish. It’s the end of the race, though, when they hand out the points and the check, so you hope your car will race the same way at the end as it did for the All-Star Race, provided you had a good All-Star Race. The mentality is that it’s just pit stop after pit stop with long sequence after long sequence. The All-Star Race is a 100-yard dash. The 600 is a marathon.”

Talk about the 2010 Coca-Cola 600, when you had such a dominant car.

“Well, to start, we just missed out on the pole. That’s one thing that sticks in my mind. You know how racers are – we want to win them all. That race, we were so good in the daytime that I was scared of what was going to happen when the sun went down and the track started to change and how the race would play out. I mean, you never really have a good car at the beginning and have it stay underneath you for the nighttime. It’s just the way you’ve always seen that race play out. But that car was that good. It was what we saw with it in the All-Star Race the week before. It was fast during both of those weekends. So it’s amazing how you can stumble across little things that make all of the difference in the world. Again, I was leading the beginning of the race just pacing myself. The car was so good in the daytime and I literally thought we would end up a lap down at night because cars never stay the same as the race goes on. But it worked out and we got the win in the 600.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2017 Monster Energy Open and All-Star Race Report

Event:                           Monster Energy Open and Monster Energy All-Star Race (non-points event)
Series:                           Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:                      Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Open Format:                50 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/10 laps)
All-Star Format:             70 laps, broken into four stages (20 laps/20 laps /20 laps /10 laps)
All-Star Start/Finish:     17th/13th, (Running, completed 60 of 70 laps)

Open Winners:     Stage 1: Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2: Ryan Blaney of Wood Brothers Racing (Ford)

Stage 3: Daniel Suarez of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota) 

All-Star Winners:      Stage 1: Kyle Larsen of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2: Kyle Larsen of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 3: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 4: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Monster Energy Open


Stage 1 Recap (Ended at Lap 20):

  • Started first, finished first.
  • Bowyer led all 20 laps in Stage 1 to earn his way into the All-Star Race.
  • Marked third time in four years Bowyer advanced into the All-Star Race through the Open. The victory allowed him to sit out Stages 2 and 3.


Monster Energy All-Star Race


Stage 1 Recap (Ended at Lap 20):

  • Started 17th, finished 12th
  • Bowyer said the car was too loose, lacked rear grip.
  • Crew made major chassis changes at the end of the stage.

Stage 2 Recap (Ended at Lap 40):

  • Started 11th, finished 9th.
  • The No. 14 crew put on the faster option tires for the stage.
  • Bowyer reported his car was too tight at the beginning of the run.

Stage 3 Recap (Ended at Lap 50):

  • Started first, finished 12th.
  • Bowyer moved to front of the field after a two-tire stop combining prime and option tires.
  • Handling problems kept Bowyer from staying at the font of the field.

Stage 4 Recap (Ended at Lap 60):

  • Only the top-10 average finishes competed in the fourth and final stage. Bowyer’s average finish was outside the top-10.

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:             

“Winning in the Open was a lot of fun. We had a good car tonight, our Haas Automation Ford was strong and I’m just proud to be a part of it. In the All-Star Race you just couldn’t pass. It was tough. We gambled with two tires in Stage 3 and almost made it work. I think we’ll be really good next week in the 600.” 

Next Up:          

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 28 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The event starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

KURT BUSCH – 2017 Monster Energy All-Star Race Report

Event:               Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race (non-points event)
 Series:               Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 
Location:          Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval) 
Format:             70 laps, broken into four stages (20 laps/20 laps/20 laps/10 laps)
Start/Finish:      5th/4th (Running, completed 70 of 70 laps) 
Race Winner:    Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-20):

  • Kurt Busch started fifth, finished seventh.
  • Battled a loose-handling condition on entry and was tight off the corners for much of the stage.
  • Visited pit road at the end of Stage 1 for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments. 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 21-40):

  • Started seventh, finished fourth.
  • Struggled with a loose-handling condition throughout the stage.
  • Visited pit road at the end of Stage 2 to take his set of four option tires, fuel and wedge and air pressure adjustments. 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 41-60):

  • Started sixth, finished fourth.
  • Ran as high as second in the stage.
  • Experienced a tight-handling condition through the middle and exit of the corners.
  • Visited pit road at the end of Stage 3 to take four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments. 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 61-70):

  • Started fourth, finished fourth. 


  • Busch made his 16th Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star start at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
  • He earned his eighth top-five and 10th top-10 All-Star Race finish.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 4 Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

“The fun factor was at an all-time high tonight and we did a great job through everything, I’d say at an A-minus level. We wanted to win tonight for our sponsor, Monster Energy. They put a ton into this and the excitement and the value of coming tonight, I thought the fans got their money’s worth. We were good on pit stops. We were good on restarts. We were good on setup and adjustments and picking which lane, we just didn’t do anything exceptional tonight. We still ran top-five all night, so that’s what we’ll take away. We had short-run speed tonight, but we have to switch all that for the long 600-mile endurance race next week. We wanted to put on a show tonight. We ran an A-minus and that’s not gonna win you a million bucks. Congrats to Kyle.”

Next Up:                                                                        

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 28 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.


KEVIN HARVICK – 2017 Monster Energy All-Star Race Report

Event:             Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race (non-points event)
Series:                        Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:        Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format:          70 laps, broken into four stages (20 laps/20 laps/20 laps/10 laps)
Start/Finish:  5th/6th (Running, completed 70 of 70 laps)
Race Winner:            Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 3 Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-20):

  • Kevin Harvick started third, finished third.
  • Struggled with a tight-handling condition off the corner throughout the stage.
  • Pitted for four prime Goodyear tires and air pressure and wedge adjustments following the stage. 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 21-40):

  • Started second, finished eighth.
  • Suffered with a tight handling condition at the start of the run and a loose condition later in the stage.
  • Pitted for four option Goodyear tires and air pressure and wedge adjustments. 

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 41-60):

  • Started seventh, finished second.
  • Raced from seventh to second by lap 51 on the option tires.
  • Noted the balance of the car was good on the option tires throughout the stage.
  • Harvick’s average finish from the first three stages allowed him to be lined up fourth for the final round of pit stops.
  • Pitted for four prime Goodyear tires and air pressure and a wedge adjustments. 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 61-70):

  • Started eight, finished sixth.
  • Advanced two positions in the closing laps to finish sixth. 

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Bucks Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

“We just didn’t put it together there when we came down pit road. We got behind, and at that point you don’t have enough laps to make it up.” 


  • Harvick scored his 10th top-10 finish in his 17th career Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star start at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Next Up:                        

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 28 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.