COLE CUSTER – 2019 NXS Road America Race Advance

Race Name: CTECH Manufacturing 180 (Race 23 of 33)
Venue: Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Television: 3:00 p.m. EDT on NBCSN
Point Standings: 
– Cole Custer: 3rd; trails points leader by 139 points
– Chase Briscoe: 6th; trails points leader by 236 points


Henry Repeating Arms is one of the leading rifle and shotgun manufacturers in the United States and a world leader in the lever action category. The company motto is “Made in America, or not made at all” and its firearms come with a lifetime guarantee backed by award-winning customer service. Visit Henry Repeating Arms online at www.HenryUSA.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/HenryRepeating, and on Instagram @Henry_Rifles.

You’ve had a stretch of bad luck throughout the month of August. What can you do to try to turn this luck around as we inch closer to the playoffs?

“We definitely haven’t had a great month of August but I know the guys back at the shop are working hard to get our cars the best they can be. I think everyone usually goes through this sort of stretch, so I am just glad that we are hopefully getting it out of the way before September comes and the Playoffs start. I’m looking forward to getting to Road America with Henry Repeating Arms as a new partner on the No. 00 Ford Mustang, so hopefully we can have a good outing with them and celebrate in Victory Lane this weekend.”

CHASE BRISCOE – 2019 NXS Road America Race Advance

Race Name: CTECH Manufacturing 180 (Race 23 of 33)
Venue: Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Television: 3:00 p.m. EDT on NBCSN
Point Standings: 
– Cole Custer: 3rd; trails points leader by 139 points
– Chase Briscoe: 6th; trails points leader by 236 points

Ford’s racing program is part of the Ford Performance organization based in Dearborn, Mich. It is responsible for major racing operations globally, including NASCAR, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, FIA World Endurance Championship, FIA World Rally Championship, Virgin Australia Supercars, Formula Drift, and NHRA Funny Car and sportsman drag racing. In addition, the organization also oversees the development of Ford’s racing engines, as well as the outreach programs with all Ford Clubs and Ford enthusiasts. For more information regarding Ford racing’s activities, please visit www.fordperformance.comwww.facebook.com/FordPerformance, Ford Performance on Instagram and @FordPerformance on Twitter.

You head to Road America this weekend after a second-place finish at Bristol. Does this little bit of momentum help you as you head to a track for the first time?

“We’ve had some good runs recently, especially last weekend in Bristol where I thought we could have won the race. Road America and Bristol are completely different, so when we get back from the Homestead rookie test, I’ll be spending some time at the Ford Simulator trying to figure the 4.048-mile course out.  There’s so many turns and the track is so large that it’s going to take a little bit to get comfortable with, but I have faith in Boswell and the whole SHR crew that we will bring a good piece to the track this weekend.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2019 Bristol II Race Report

Event:               Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (Round 24 of 36)
Series:              Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Format:             500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)
Start/Finish:      20th / 7th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing:  17th with 589 points, 343 out of first … is two points outside the top-16 playoff cutoff

Race Winner:    Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125): 

  • Clint Bowyer started 20th and finished 13th.
  • Bowyer reported the No. 14 PEAK Lighting Ford Mustang was loose in the early going.
  • He said the car was too loose to run the high groove as others began to use both racing lanes.
  • Bowyer raced in 17th by lap 42.
  • As the handling improved, the No. 14’s lap times improved and Bowyer climbed to 14th.
  • Bowyer made his first pit stop of the race on lap 83. 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250): 

  • Bowyer started 11th and finished 17th.
  • The No. 14 PEAK Lighting Ford Mustang jumped from 11th to seventh on the restart.
  • Bowyer took over sixth on lap 150 before he told the crew the front end of his car “feels lazy.”
  • Bowyer began to fade back, dropping to ninth by lap 219.
  • Bowyer spun with seven laps remaining in the stage as he attempted to pass lapped cars.
  • Despite the spin, Bowyer only dropped to 17th and stayed on the lead lap.
  • Bowyer pitted and stayed out during the stage break, climbing to 10th.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 250-500): 

  • Bowyer started 10th and finished seventh.
  • The No. 14 PEAK Lighting Ford Mustang showed immediate speed and climbed to eighth by lap 315.
  • Bowyer said his car was a little loose, but he held his position in the top-10.
  • Bowyer pitted under caution on lap 365 for adjustments and fuel, then restarted the race in fifth.
  • Bowyer dropped to seventh over the closing laps.

Clint Bowyer:

“We had a good race. We were too loose. I needed more rear grip all night long. That’s probably the loosest I’ve ever been here. We kind of fought front turn all weekend long and was trying to make up for it with wedge out and track bar up – stuff like that – and it just hurts rear grip. I mean, all in all, it was a good weekend for us. It was kind of a rebound weekend and what we needed, but you can’t expect those guys to just lay over for you. We did all we could do. I was hoping to be a top-five car and when you’re a top-five car here you’ve got a chance to win, but we were just a beat off of that all night.

“Tonight could have been worse, but it could have been a lot better.  It’s short track racing.  You’re making split-decisions.  I was trying to pass those two cars and get some more stage points for us and I clipped him. It wasn’t nothing he did, I was just trying to shoot the gap and I had a run on those guys and trying to do all I could do.”  

Notes:  

  • Bowyer earned his 10th top-10 of the season and his 15th top-10 in 28 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol.
  • This is Bowyer’s fourth straight top-10 at Bristol. He finished seventh in the series’ last visit to the track in April.
  • Since joining SHR in 2017, Bowyer has only finished outside the top-10 once at Bristol. He has never finished worse than 19th.
  • Bowyer has finished in the top-10 in all three short track races in the 2019 season.
  • Denny Hamlin won the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race to score his 35th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his second at Bristol. His margin of victory over second-place Matt DiBenedetto was .502 of a second.
  • There were eight caution periods for a total of 61 laps.
  • Only seven of the 39 drivers in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race finished on the lead lap.
  • Kyle Busch remains the championship leader after Bristol with a 39-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.

Next Up: 

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Sunday, Sept. 1 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The race starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

DANIEL SUÁREZ – 2019 Bristol II Race Report

Event: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (Round 24 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)
Start/Finish: 18th/8th  (Running, completed 499 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 16th with 591 points, 341 out of first (has a two-point margin over the top-16 playoff cutoff)

Race Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):

● Daniel Suárez started 18th and finished 14th.
● Suárez reported the Haas Automation Mustang was tight center, loose on entry and exit when the first caution was displayed on lap 83 and he prepared to pit.
● After a stop for fuel and four tires, he restarted 14th on lap 87.
● The Mexico native maintained the position until the end of the stage.
● Suárez pitted during the Stage 1 break for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help with the Mustang’s tight condition.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):

● The No. 41 driver started 14th and ended the stage second to earn nine stage points.
● The 27-year-old Ford driver reached the top-10 on lap 185.
● During the lap-190 caution, Suárez pitted from 10th for fuel and four tires. He restarted 13th on lap 196.
● The next caution was displayed on lap 216, and Suárez did not visit pit road. He restarted 13th on lap 220.
● The Ford driver narrowly missed the No. 14 of his teammate, Clint Bowyer, that spun in front of him and brought out the caution on lap 244. Again, Suárez did not visit pit road.
● In a two-lap shoot out Suárez restarted second, and he ended the stage in the same position.
● During the Stage 2 break, Suárez pitted for fuel and four tires.

Final Recap (Laps 251-500):

● The Haas Automation driver started 16th and finished eighth.
● The stage remained green until lap 361, with Suárez in the 10th position. He reported the No. 41 Ford was a little tight in the center.
● Suárez restarted 10th on lap 370.
● The next caution was displayed on lap 374 with Suárez in ninth. He did not pit and restarted eighth on lap 384.
● The remainder of the race ran under green, and Suárez ultimately finished eighth.

Notes:

● Suárez earned his ninth top-10 of the season and his second top-10 in six career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol.
● Suárez’s eighth-place result equaled his previous best finish at Bristol, which was scored in the series’ last visit to the track in April. Suárez has never finished worse than 18th at Bristol.
● Denny Hamlin won the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Raceto score his 35th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his second at Bristol. His margin of victory over second-place Matt DiBenedetto was .502 of a second.
● There were eight caution periods for a total of 61 laps.
● Only seven of the 39 drivers in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Racefinished on the lead lap.
● Kyle Busch remains the championship leader after Bristol with a 39-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.

Daniel Suárez, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“All in all it was a pretty solid day for the No. 41 Ford Mustang Haas Automation. I feel like we had a top-10 car the entire weekend and that’s pretty much where we ran. It was a positive weekend. I wish we could have finished a little bit better, probably in the top-five or so, but for whatever reason we were strong but we were not super strong.”

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Sunday, Sept. 1 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The race starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2019 Bristol II Race Report

Event:  Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (Round 24 of 36)
Series:  Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:  Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Format:  500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)
Start/Finish:  5th/29th (Running, completed 482 of 500 laps)
Point standing:  13th with 654 points, 278 out of first (has a 65-point margin over top-16 playoff cutoff)
Playoffs:  Two races remain before the 16-driver, 10-race NASCAR Playoffs begin Sept. 15 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Race Winner:  Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner:  Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner:  Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):

Aric Almirola started fifth and finished 10th, earning one bonus point.
● “Out of control,” said Almirola after just 14 laps.
● Despite his No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang being a handful, Almirola held steady in 13th.
● “Getting a little bit tight, but the back of the car’s not in the track,” said Almirola on lap 53.
● During a caution on lap 83, Almirola pitted for four tires, fuel and tire pressure adjustments.
● Lined up 10th for lap-87 restart.
● With Smithfield Ford still not handling to his liking, Almirola persevered and held onto 10th through the end of the stage.
● Pitted for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment at the conclusion of the stage.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):

Almirola started 13th and finished 33rd.
● Ran in and around the top-15 until contact with the lapped car of J.J. Yeley sent Almirola spinning into the turn two wall.
● Almirola had to make two pit stops to repair the damage, dropping him to 29th for the lap-196 restart, one lap down to the leaders.
● A second spin on lap 213 as a result of the previous damage sent Almirola back to the pits for further repairs.
● Almirola was forced to pit under green on lap 220 to reaffix the rear decklid. This dropped Almirola to 32nd, five laps down.
● Under caution on lap 246, Almirola pitted for four tires, fuel and a bevy of chassis adjustments (track bar and wedge).
● Almirola stayed out during the stage break.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 251-500):

Almirola started 32nd and finished 29th.
● With a battered No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang, Almirola soldiered through the final stage, finishing 18 laps down.
● The attrition of others allowed Almirola to pick up three positions before the checkered flag dropped.

Notes:

● Almirola’s fifth-place qualifying effort equaled his previous best starting spot at Bristol, earned in August 2012.
● Denny Hamlin won the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race to score his 35th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his second at Bristol. His margin of victory over second-place Matt DiBenedetto was .502 of a second.
● There were eight caution periods for a total of 61 laps.
● Only seven of the 39 drivers in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race finished on the lead lap.
● Kyle Busch remains the championship leader after Bristol with a 39-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Sunday, Sept. 1 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The race starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

KEVIN HARVICK – 2019 Bristol II Race Report

Event: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (Round 24 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)
Start/Finish: 8th/39th (Mechanical, completed 244 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 5th with 830 points, 102 out of first

Race Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):

Kevin Harvick started eighth and finished fourth earning seven bonus points.
● The No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Mustang pitted on lap 86 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Harvick said the car was a bit tight.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):

Harvick started fourth and finished 39th.
● The No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Mustang hit pit road on lap 130 for four tires, fuel and a chassis and tire pressure adjustment. Harvick said the car was still too tight.
● On the restart, Harvick shot up to second from fourth.
● Harvick got by Chase Elliott for the lead on lap 163.
● While in the lead on lap 191, Harvick hit pit road for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment, but he said the car was a bit too free.
● On lap 244 Harvick pitted, but the car had a mechanical issue and was forced to go behind the wall. Despite the hard work of the Busch Beer crew, the problem was not fixable and Harvick was out of the race.

Notes:

●  Harvick finished fourth in Stage 1 to earn seven bonus points.
●  Harvick led once for 28 laps to increase his laps-led total at Bristol to 909.
●  Denny Hamlin won the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Raceto score his 35th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his second at Bristol. His margin of victory over second-place Matt DiBenedetto was .502 of a second.
●  There were eight caution periods for a total of 61 laps.
●  Only seven of the 39 drivers in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Racefinished on the lead lap.
●  Kyle Busch remains the championship leader after Bristol with a 39-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Sunday, Sept. 1 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The race starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

CHASE BRISCOE – 2019 NXS Bristol II Race Report

Race Name: Food City 300 (Race 22 of 33)
Venue: Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Race Winner: Tyler Reddick of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Results: Chase Briscoe: 2nd | Cole Custer: 22nd
Point Standings:
– Cole Custer: 3rd with 839 points; trails points leader by 139 points
– Chase Briscoe: 6th with 742 points; trails points leader by 236 points

Chase Briscoe / Ford Performance Ford Mustang Recap:

– Briscoe qualified sixth and maintained position for the opening 30 laps. Yellow flag flew on lap 36 for a multi-car wreck. The No. 98 sustained minor damage on the rear quarter panel and pitted for repairs.
– The team would pit three more times under subsequent yellow flags to finalize repairs and finish the first stage in 22nd.
– The No. 98 Ford Mustang would fire off from 12th for the start of Stage 2. Chase advanced five positions and finished the stage in seventh to earn four stage points.
– Briscoe pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment at the end of the stage. He was charged with speeding on pit road and had to restart at the tail of the field.
– He battled back up to seventh place before caution flag waved on lap 221. He would pit for tires and fuel and restart in ninth.
– Gaining five spots, Briscoe was running in fourth when caution flew again with 20 laps remaining. He would gain two more spots on the final restart and finish second.

Next Up: CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America on August 24th at 3:00 p.m. ET broadcast by NBCSN.

Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 98 Ford Performance Ford Mustang:

“We had such a good Ford Performance Mustang, I just didn’t fire off very good on that last restart. The last five laps it started coming to me and I felt like I was running him down, but it was too late. This one stings – you don’t get too many opportunities to win at a place like Bristol and I really think we had a car capable of doing it. All in all, we’ll take a second place and move on to Road America.”

COLE CUSTER – 2019 NXS Bristol II Race Report

Race Name: Food City 300 (Race 22 of 33)
Venue: Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Race Winner: Tyler Reddick of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Results: Chase Briscoe: 2nd | Cole Custer: 22nd
Point Standings:
– Cole Custer: 3rd with 839 points; trails points leader by 139 points
– Chase Briscoe: 6th with 742 points; trails points leader by 236 points

Cole Custer / Haas Automation Ford Mustang Recap:

– Custer qualified fourth and was running there on lap 39 when he was involved in a multi-car wreck.
– The team made repairs to the car and Custer rejoined the field in 34th. He would finish Stage 1 in 33rd, seven laps down.
– The No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang started Stage 2 in 31st and finished the stage in 26th.
– Custer would start the final stage in 26th and was in 23rd on lap 280 when the final caution flag flew.
– He would gain one more position and be credited with a 22nd-place finish, nine laps down.

Next Up: CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America on August 24th at 3:00 p.m. ET broadcast by NBCSN.

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang:

“It’s been a real tough few weeks for our team. We started off really fast and unfortunately had our day ruined trying to get around a lapped car. I can’t thank my team enough for all the hard work on the car this weekend. We brought a really fast race car and I really wanted to get a win here at Bristol, but it just wasn’t our day.”

DANIEL SUÁREZ – 2019 Bristol II Race Advance

Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Haas Automation Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race. It will be Suárez’s sixth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at the high-banked, concrete half-mile oval.

Suárez is coming off a solid fifth-place finish Sunday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The weekend at the fast, 2-mile oval was not without its share of drama, however, as Suárez experienced a cut tire during Saturday’s final practice session that caused him to lose control and damage the No. 41 machine. But the Mexico native and his team rallied for a strong finish on race day, allowing him to gain valuable points in his quest to earn a spot in the 10-race Cup Series playoffs, which begin Sept. 15 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 27-year-old earned an eighth-place finish at this year’s April race at Bristol, his highest Cup Series career finish at the short track, where he has an average starting position of 17.6 and an average finishing position of 14.0, along with five laps led. The Haas Automation driver has completed 99.9 percent of all possible laps at Bristol.

Suárez arrives at Bristol 17th in the Cup Series standings to round out the four-driver SHR contingent. If he captures a playoff position, it will be the first of his Cup Series career. Last year, all four SHR entries secured a playoff spot and at least one regular-season victory. SHR teammate Kevin Harvick has already secured his spot in the playoffs with wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July, and last weekend at Michigan.

Haas Automation, founded in 1983 by SHR co-owner Gene Haas, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.

No. 41 team crew chief Billy Scott is the defending winner of this weekend’s event, capturing the win with former SHR driver Kurt Busch behind the wheel last August. The win marked Scott’s first win as Cup Series crew chief. The only major difference on the No. 41 roster this season is Suárez.

Suárez has six Bristol starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, with four top-five finishes and five top-10s, including two runner-up results in August 2017 and April 2015. The 2016 Xfinity Series champion has also led 42 laps at the “Last Great Colosseum” in that series and has never started outside the top-10. He has an average Xfinity Series starting position of 7.7 and an average finish of 8 at the Tennessee track. The Ford driver has two NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series starts at Bristol with 77 laps led, but both starts ended prematurely.

Fans will also have the opportunity to enjoy a sweet view from inside Suárez’s cockpit with an in-car camera provided by Coca-Cola for Saturday’s 500-lap event.

 

DANIEL SUÁREZ, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

We all know drivers want to win. How difficult is it to choose between getting the most points or risking it all for a win?

“That’s a fine line. For months, all I care about and want is a win. To break that barrier and to get my first win in the Cup Series would be awesome. But right now, we aren’t in a position to where we can take those risks. When you win races, you have to take chances and take advantage of opportunities. Sometimes, though, those opportunities can get you the win and other times you end up out of the race. If the possibility to win the race is in front of me, we are going to take it. But I have to be smart and put the importance of the points and the risk that we are going to take to make sure it’s worth it for us. We’ve had a lot of speed lately, we just can’t make mistakes.”

How much do drivers remember?

“My mom and sisters will tell you that I can’t remember anything. I don’t remember people or places very well, but when it comes to the racetrack, I remember everything. I can remember back to my very first race and who I got into it with. I remember who raced me hard, who raced me clean, who cut me a break. You have to know that the people you’re racing with have a memory bank, as well, and you never know when you might get those paybacks.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2019 Bristol II Race Advance

It’s a good time of year for things to start going right.

With three races remaining before the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs commence, Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to one of the season’s most popular events – Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway bullring – fresh off their second victory of the season and second in the last four events.

A year ago this weekend, Harvick also arrived at the high-banked, half-mile concrete Bristol oval having scored the season’s seventh victory the previous Sunday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, like he did this past Sunday. Last year’s Michigan win was his seventh of 2018, but he would get just one more the rest of the way en route to a third-place finish in the playoff finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In stark contrast this season, it took the No. 4 team 20 races to get its first win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon four weekends ago, but that solid performance signaled a much-needed turnaround in its fortunes. It was followed by a sixth-place result from Harvick’s fourth Busch pole position at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and a seventh-place finish on the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International before Sunday’s victory at Michigan.

After two wins in four weeks on two vastly different types of racetracks – the flat, mile oval at New Hampshire and the superfast 2-mile Michigan oval – Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers sense the arrival of the kind of momentum it takes to execute another championship run through the 10-race playoffs, which begin Sept. 15 in Las Vegas.

Saturday night’s typically grueling 500-lap race takes Harvick and his team to yet another unique type of track where he has tasted victory twice before. In August of 2016, in his third season with SHR, Harvick started 24th at Bristol but led 128 laps en route to victory. He also won at Bristol while driving for Richard Childress Racing in April 2005.

All told, Harvick has one pole, 12 top-five finishes, 19 top-10s and has led a total of 884 laps in his 37 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol. His average start there is 16.9, his average finish is 13.2 and he has a lap-completion rate of 98 percent – 18,157 of the 18,527 laps available.

In this year’s Bristol spring race, Harvick had to start from the back of the field and fell as much as four laps off the pace during the middle stage after contact outer SAFER Barrier. But he rallied his way back to the lead lap and passed four cars in the closing laps for what turned out to be a hard-earned 13th-place finish.

Come Saturday night, Harvick hopes and the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Mustang team for SHR hope to keep the momentum rolling along from that strong closing effort in the Tennessee hills last April and their recent pair of victories.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

You’re coming off your second win of the season over a four-race span. Do you feel the team is peaking at the right time?

“Yeah, you know, we really got off on the wrong foot as far as where we needed to be on the cars, and it’s been kind of an uphill battle, really all year, to get where we needed to be. The cars have been running a lot better as we’ve gotten into the last two months, and I’ve been nursing a shoulder injury for the last two months to try to make sure I made it through Watkins Glen, and that was no problem. I hurt myself throwing a baseball to (son Keelan), so it’s cut into my golf game (laughs). So, we’ve had a lot of things that we’ve had to overcome to get to this point. But it’s kind of like last year – we started off on fire, we won eight races and then didn’t win the championship. In the end, you want to win that championship, and hopefully we’re peaking at the right time.”

Your two wins came on vastly different racetracks – the flat, mile oval at New Hampshire and the 2-mile Michigan oval. What’s your contribution as a driver to make everything on the racecars work well on multiple types of tracks?

“Well, you remember those days when you made the most power and you had the best fuel mileage, right?  It’s nice. Doug (Yates) and everybody at Roush Yates Engines does a great job, and obviously Ford puts a big circle around the two Michigan races to try and be the top manufacturer. And when you look at our engine program, I think these particular racetracks really fit the style of our torque curves and the things that we do, and it was right in our wheelhouse. The evolution of these race cars is rapid, and when you talk about the engine shop, obviously Mobil 1 is a huge part of that in being able to develop new oils, and it’s been no different with the new oil and things in the car. We’ve had some good days and a lot of pieces are coming together, and hopefully when we get to Las Vegas (to start the playoffs), there will be a few more come together, as well.”

Is it hard to communicate inside the racecar at Bristol because everything happens so fast?

“It’s definitely loud and hard for the teams to hear. One of the hardest things at Bristol is just to see what’s going on. I have crashed at Bristol and gone back to watch it on TV and you’re like, ‘What in the hell were you doing? You just ran into four or five cars that have been sitting there for two seconds.’ But, Bristol is a very demanding racetrack. It’s very hard because things happen so fast, communication is hard. It’s easy to make a mistake or pile into a wreck. It’s easy to wreck somebody or to get into a fight. It’s easy to do a lot of things because there is just so much happening. It’s a tough place to race, to put it all together, and it’s mentally and physically exhausting.”