Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will arrive at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway as the most recent winner on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit, but it is partner Jimmy John’s who is providing a hero’s welcome to a lucky and deserving Kevin Harvick fan.
The folks at Jimmy John’s recently came across a story on NASCAR.com written by Pat DeCola that documents the story of 11-year-old Jenna Dumanski of Milltown, New Jersey. Dumanski, a Kevin Harvick fan, made a life-saving decision on Aug. 28, 2014 to donate bone marrow to her then-infant brother Tommy.
Tommy Dumanski was 2 months old when he was diagnosed with Chronic Granulomatous Disease, which is a rare genetic disease that would require a bone marrow transplant to survive. The family faced genetic testing to see if there was a match in the family and, sure enough, his big sister Jenna was a perfect match.
Jenna’s decision to donate bone marrow to her younger brother saved his life.
Now, three years later, both Jenna and Tommy are doing well. Jenna was scheduled to attend the Daytona 500 in February but a bout of meningitis prevented her from making the trip.
After seeing the story on NASCAR.com, Jimmy John’s decided to provide Jenna, Tommy and their family with a trip to Daytona of their own. They are scheduled to watch the Coke Zero 400 Saturday night from the comfort of the Jimmy John’s suite high above the front stretch at the “World Center of Racing.”
Harvick is hoping to make Jenna’s trip extra special by crossing the finish line first Saturday night.
The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion is fresh off his first win of the year last weekend at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and will be looking to make it two straight trips to victory lane.
If February’s Daytona 500 was any indication, Harvick and the No. 4 team could be favorites heading into the event. Harvick started fifth and led 50 of 200 laps in the season-opening event before being collected in a multicar accident and finished 22nd.
The Bakersfield, California native is no stranger to victory lane at Daytona. He is one of four active drivers to win both the Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400, joining the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jamie McMurray.
Harvick, who secured his position in the 2017 NASCAR playoffs with last weekend’s win at Sonoma, would now like to add a second win and start collecting as many playoff points as he can in the final 10 races before the start of the playoffs at Chicago in September. But a win Saturday night would provide an extra special moment for Jenna, Tommy and their family in Daytona.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion:
What makes racing under the lights at Daytona in July so special?
“The July race at Daytona is special for a lot of reasons. I think when you look at the night race at Daytona, it kind of marks the halfway point of the year and you know that you’re going to Daytona. It’s not the Daytona 500, but it’s still Daytona, and everybody wants to win a race at Daytona no matter what it’s in or what it’s for. Daytona just has that special place in our sport and everybody wants to win there.”
Describe the intensity of restrictor-plate racing?
“Plate racing is something that you have to be aggressive at just for the fact that if you’re not aggressive, it always seems like you’re not going to be where you need to be. Nine times out of 10, I believe that the aggressor is going to be the guy who comes out on the good side of things just for the fact that you’re making things happen and you’re not waiting for something else to happen. When you wait for something else to happen, that’s usually when you get in trouble because it’s usually someone else’s mess. You can still get in trouble if you’re aggressive, but it seems like, with this rules package and the way things are, it’s best to stay aggressive and try to stay up front.”