DANICA PATRICK – Bristol II Race Advance

As Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) return to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event, they will be racing to bring awareness to a special program: One Cure.

One Cure is a project led by the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University. The One Cure program is founded on the principle that cancer affects all creatures and that treatment breakthroughs come through collaboration between scientists and doctors working with people and animals. This approach is known as comparative oncology and it is the guiding concept of One Cure and the Flint Animal Cancer Center at CSU. The center works to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pets, and teams with the human medical field to translate research findings that will help people with cancer.

The center sees more than 1,500 new animal cancer patients every year, with approximately 400 patients enrolling in carefully monitored clinical trials specific to their cancer type. The canine and feline patients are helping pioneer cancer research, moving cutting-edge treatments out of the laboratory and into clinical practice, ultimately providing hope to the next generation of animal and human cancer patients.

The One Cure initiative was first featured on Patrick’s No. 10 Ford earlier this year at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. As the proud “mom” of a 3-year-old miniature Siberian Husky named Dallas and a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois named Ella, the One Cure program is a cause near and dear to Patrick.

“It’s great to have One Cure on the car this weekend,” Patrick said. “I love dogs and I’m glad we can bring more awareness to all of the work the team at the Flint Animal Cancer Center is doing. Our pets are members of our families and, when they aren’t well, we want to do everything we can to help.

“Cancer has touched so many of us. Knowing we can use what we learn from keeping our animals healthy to potentially help save human lives is a cause I’m honored to support.”

When Patrick straps into the No. 10 One Cure Ford Saturday night, she will make her 11th NASCAR Cup Series start at Bristol. Her best NASCAR Cup Series finish to date at the .533-mile oval is a ninth-place effort Patrick earned in April 2015. In last year’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol, Patrick started 29th and finished 22nd. In April, an accident relegated the team to a 36th-place finish.

In addition to Patrick’s NASCAR Cup Series experience at Bristol, she’s also competed in three NASCAR Xfinity Series races at the track. In that time, her best result was a ninth-place finish earned in August 2012.

As they return to Bristol looking to improve upon their results at the track, Patrick and the No. 10 One Cure Ford team will be ready to bring attention to the One Cure program.

 

DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 One Cure Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

What are your overall thoughts heading into Bristol?

“I’ve liked Bristol since I went there the first time. I remember when I set foot onto that track, it was the day before, it was load-in day and I looked out there and you’re standing on the straightaway, but it sure seems like a corner. It’s a very cool track and a spectacle for the fans. I feel like that is always the one that everyone says, ‘I want to come see a Bristol race.’ It’s always entertaining there for the fans and, hopefully, we can put on another good show for them this week.”

 

How aggressive do you have to be?

“Every single one of us is going to go as absolutely hard as possible. There’s never a plan to back off or go easy or anything like that, other than if you are saving fuel out there on a strategy at the end of the race. You always go as fast as you can, all the time.”

How grueling is 500 laps at Bristol?  

“It’s fine. I think it is a little daunting to say 500 laps, but there are a lot of times that we do 500 laps, or 500 miles, and this is just one of them. I feel like no matter what happens – whether it’s a 400-mile race or a 500-lap race – you find your rhythm. Time goes by fast sometimes, and then sometimes it’s slow. All I hope is that the car has a good balance because, when it doesn’t, that’s when the laps seem wrong. If we can just get into a rhythm, find ourselves in a good spot and have a consistent car throughout the race, then the time does go pretty quickly, usually.”

Fans come to Bristol and typically expect a lot of beating and banging. Do you like that kind of racing?

“Yes, I enjoy it. I mean, I don’t mind some beating and banging out there. I don’t mind pushing your way around a little bit. It just happens. It’s just the nature of short tracks when you’re running really close to one another. You put 40 cars out on a track the size of Bristol and you’re filling up a lot of the track. The short tracks are conducive to close racing since aerodynamics don’t come into play quite as much.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2017 Bristol II Race Advance

Clint Bowyer said coming close to victory in several Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races in 2017 is nice, but it isn’t good enough. He’d like to change that Saturday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.

With three races remaining in the regular season, Bowyer is in a battle to secure one of the 16 spots in the 10-race Cup Series playoffs. He trails Matt Kenseth by 31 points, Jamie McMurray by 52 points and Chase Elliott by 62 points in the battle for the final three berths in the playoffs.

A win would secure a postseason berth, but a good points finish Saturday night would increase the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver’s chances in the playoff race.

“We’ve come close to victory several times this year,” said Bowyer, who has scored the 10th-most points of any driver this season with three second-place and two third-places finishes. “That’s what can be so frustrating. You are only one or two spots away from where you want to be, but there’s a huge difference between first and everything else in this business.”

Like many drivers, Bowyer feels the Bristol night race on the .533-mile, high-banked oval with lap speeds at 130 mph is one of the highlights of the Cup Series season. Although he won an Xfinity race at Bristol in 2008, a Cup Series victory at Bristol would be near the top of his career accomplishments.

He owns seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in 23 Bristol races during in his 11 full Cup Series seasons. He finished second to Jimmie Johnson on April 24 in a race that saw Bowyer battle back from 21st midway through the race, then restart seventh with 48 laps remaining. He used new tires to slice through the field and drive to within 1.199 seconds of Johnson’s bumper.

If he finishes one spot better Saturday night, he promises a victory party unlike any other Bristol fans have witnessed since its first race in 1961. 

“I want to celebrate in front of all those wild and crazy fans,” he said. “There’s no better atmosphere. They’re so close to you that you feel that environment.

“I’m telling you, during driver intros you’re walking down there and it’s just the feeling that comes over you before you get in that car. It’s just something you don’t feel anywhere else. It’s because of the closeness of the fans to you. They’re all breathing down on you and expecting big things out of you, and you can’t wait to go out there and get in that coliseum and go to battle.”

Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Fusion will carry the Rush Truck Centers paint scheme during Saturday night’s race. Hopefully, he’ll restart his recent hot streak that cooled last week with a 23rd-place finish at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. In the two races before Michigan, Bowyer finished fifth Aug. 6 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and sixth July 30 at Pocono (Pa.) International Raceway.

Bowyer replaced three-time champion and SHR co-owner Tony Stewart in the No. 14 car in 2017. He and the Mike Bugarewicz-led crew have enjoyed a great first season, but their view of 2017 will likely depend on how the next three races play out. Unless Bowyer wins during the next three races, it appears his playoff fate will be decided in the final laps of the last regular-season race Sept. 9 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

“I’m the hunter, not the hunted,” he said. “So it’s a lot of fun to go into this weekend knowing that you’ve got to go out there and chase that guy down or chase those guys down and, hopefully, pop off a win here and just put it all to bed.”

 

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

 

What kind of pressure do you feel to get into the playoffs?

“There’s always pressure. It doesn’t matter. There’s pressure in the Daytona 500 to go out there and perform and try to win that race. There’s always pressure. It’s no different now. You still focus on the task at hand. You focus on unloading a fast racecar, making good downforce, making good horsepower, knowing it’s gonna take that on this racetrack. And you focus on the adjustments, the balance of your car, so you can go out and qualify well. That enables you to gain those stage points as we go through the race and then work hard to get a finish. It’s the task at hand, week-in and week-out, that you have to focus on. You can’t worry about those points. You have to go out and do your job week-in and week-out and, if you do that, I feel like, with the way we’re running, we can get in two different ways. I think we could win and I think we can point our way in. I think both of those are definite doables right now for us, I guess.”

Do you take chances?

“You always have to take chances. That’s the hard thing. When the pressure cooker is turned up and the situation is where it is right now, you can afford to take chances, you need to be able to take those chances to enable you to get those stage points if you’re out – make a gain to try to get them. But there’s also a Catch-22 to every decision there, so you just have to lay it all out, focus on the task at hand, whether that’s a stage win or the second stage or the finish at the end – focus on that and let the rest take care of itself.”

COLE CUSTER – 2017 Mid-Ohio Advance

Cole Custer: Driver, No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang

NASCAR XFINITY Series Overview

Event:               Mid-Ohio Challenge (Round 21 of 33)
Date:                 Aug. 12, 2017
Location:          Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington
Layout:             2.4-mile road course

Cole Custer Notes of Interest

  • The Mid-Ohio Challenge will mark Custer’s 26th career NASCAR XFINITY Series start and his first XFINITY Series start at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington.
  • Custer’s best finish in the 20 XFINITY Series races run this season is fourth, earned June 3 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. It was his 11th top-10 and fifth top-five and it equaled his career-best finish.
  • Custer’s best qualifying effort in the 20 XFINITY Series races run this season is third, earned twice – April 22 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and June 10 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Custer has 13 top-10 starts and four top-five starts this season.
  • Last week, Custer ran his career-first XFINITY Series road-course race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. He ran as high as second, turning consistent top-five lap speeds.
  • Custer has earned four top-five finishes, nine top-10s and has led 29 laps so far in the 2017 XFINITY Series season.
  • Custer is second in the XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year standings, 59 points behind leader William Byron.
  • Custer has earned six Rookie of the Race awards this season. Rookie of the Race awards are given to the highest-finishing XFINITY Series rookie at each race.
  • Custer is sixth in the XFINITY Series driver standings, 229 points behind series leader Elliott Sadler.
  • This will be Stewart-Haas Racing’s second XFINITY Series road-course race.

Cole Custer, Driver Q&A

What was it like testing at Mid-Ohio?

“I think the test went fairly well. It’s hard to tell because it’s a different kind of car and everything, but I thought it was a fun place to run around. I can’t wait to hit the track with my Haas Automation Ford Mustang this weekend.”

Run us through a lap at Mid-Ohio.

“Mid-Ohio seems to definitely be one of the more technical places we go to, especially through the back section, so it will be fun to figure that out.”

Based on your performance at Watkins Glen, what are your expectations going into your second straight road-course race?

“I felt like we had pretty solid speed at Watkins Glen and we were one of the faster XFINITY guys. Hopefully, we can keep it in the top-five and be there at the end to get our first XFINITY win of the season.” 

Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A

What is your strategy going into your second straight road-course race?

“We didn’t get the finish we were hoping for in Watkins Glen, but I am very happy with the speed we showed in the race. Our team is going into Mid-Ohio with the confidence that we can compete for the win.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2017 Michigan II Advance

KEVIN HARVICK

Closing In on the Playoffs

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (August 8, 2017) – Kevin Harvick is heading to the Irish Hills of Michigan with Busch Light on the hood of his No. 4 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

Harvick and the No. 4 team’s goal this weekend is to score as many playoff points as possible with just four races remaining before the start of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

The Bakersfield, California native clinched his position in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with his first win of the season at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June. He started 12th, led 24 laps and had more than a five-second cushion when the final yellow flag waved to end the race under caution.

The No. 4 team’s one race win and three stage wins account for eight playoff points – tied for seventh-most among Cup Series drivers.

The good news for Harvick and the No. 4 team is that they have been among the best in the series at the 2-mile Michigan oval in recent years, scoring top-five finishes in seven of their last nine starts there.

Harvick scored four consecutive second-place finishes at Michigan from June 2013 through August 2014. He was runner-up to Greg Biffle by 2.989 seconds in June 2013. In August 2013, Harvick finished 1.018 seconds behind Joey Logano. In 2014, he followed Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon across the finish line in the June and August races, respectively. That’s four races, four second-place finishes, to four different drivers.

Harvick scored back-to-back top-five finishes at Michigan in 2016. In June, he started 29th and raced his way to a fifth-place finish. His next start in August, he started fourth, led 33 laps and finished fifth.

However, Harvick and the No. 4 team started 11th and finished 14th in their most recent trip to Michigan in June.

For his career, Harvick has been to victory lane at Michigan in each of NASCAR’s top three national touring series.

He scored an Xfinity Series win at Michigan in August 2003, when he led 10 laps and beat Kasey Kahne to the finish line under caution. His NASCAR Cup Series win came in August 2010, when he led 60 laps and outran Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 1.731 seconds. He scored a Camping World Truck Series win in August 2011, when he led 13 laps and finished ahead of Timothy Peters as the race ended under caution.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion would like to add a fresh Cup Series win to his resume Sunday at Michigan. A win would be Harvick’s second of the 2017 season and would give him much-needed bonus points as the series makes its last push before the start of NASCAR’s 2017 playoffs.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion:

What does it take to have a good finish at Michigan?

“How you finish at Michigan depends on how your day is going. If you’re having a good day, it’s not really hard to tell your guys what you need and everyone is in a good mood. If you’re having a bad day, you can get behind at Michigan really fast. Usually, when you’re hooked up at Michigan, the leaders have clean air and move through traffic pretty well. But, if you’re in the middle of the pack, you find yourself getting behind and going a lap down pretty quickly. You’re going to end up with a green-flag pit stop and a whole bunch of green-flag laps. You just have to be going from the time the green flag drops and keep yourself in position at the end.”

 

 Do you enjoy racing at Michigan International Speedway?

“I think we’ve finished really well there over the last couple of years and scored a lot of second-place finishes and top-fives. I learned a long time ago that sometimes those things happen, so it’s better to be on a top-five streak than a 10th-place streak. The good thing about the racetrack is that it has definitely aged and the groove has spread out over the last couple of races, so you have a lot more options than you did a few years ago when they repaved it. Every time we go back there, it gets a little more racey. When we go back this time, there should be lots of room to race and you’ll see lots of speed. As we go through the restarts and traffic and different things, we’ll have to see how it all goes, but it should be interesting.”

KURT BUSCH – 2017 Michigan II Advance

KURT BUSCH

Yes, Michigan!

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Aug. 8, 2017) – Kurt Busch may not remember the 1980s Michigan television commercials that ended with the theme “Yes, Michigan!”

But as the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series rolls into historic Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, he is thinking “Yes, Michigan!”

Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has three wins at Michigan, which puts him in a tie with Matt Kenseth for most among active drivers. And just like at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, he’s won three times, with three different teams.

He scored his first win at Michigan in June 2003 driving for Roush Fenway Racing, then backed it up with a victory in August 2007 with Roger Penske. His last Michigan win came in a rain-shorted race with SHR in June 2015.

Busch also qualified on the pole in June 2010 and 2011 and has scored five top-five finishes at the 2-mile oval.

He’ll be looking to take Ford back to victory lane at Michigan, which is about an hour from the Detroit area, where Ford is based. The blue oval has a long history at Michigan, winning nearly half the races since the track opened in 1969. Of the 96 NASCAR Cup Series races contested at Michigan, Ford and its Mercury brand have won 47 of them – 35 wins by Ford and 12 by Mercury.

Busch is credited with one of those triumphs – June 2003, when he snatched the lead from Jeff Gordon with 24 laps to go to claim his seventh career Cup Series win.

The Las Vegas native has four top-12 finishes, including a win, in his last five starts at the 2-mile oval. He’s hoping to score another victory this weekend so he can once again proclaim, “Yes, Michigan!”

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

You won the June 2003 Michigan race for Ford almost 100 years after the company was formed. Can you talk about what you remember from that experience?

“It was really neat. In my office at my house, I have a letter form Edsel Ford congratulating our team on the race win. And it’s something I framed and put in a similar format to a letter that my grandfather got from Henry Ford when he was a Ford employee. And it was really neat to have that moment and the lineage of our family of letters from the Ford Family.”

Any difference in track temperature between the first Michigan race and the second one?

“I would say it’s usually warmer in the second race, but there isn’t that much of a difference. It’s very similar to Pocono. The temperatures are just very similar each time we go. It’s just a matter of if you catch cloud cover or a cold front.”

You’re back with Ford, with whom you won your first 14 NASCAR Cup Series races. But in this go-round, there’s a One Ford mentality instead of a team-by-team philosophy. How is it working out?

“Right away, at Daytona, everybody from Ford was there, and there was a big meeting with all the Ford teams about how we need to all work together at the restrictor-plate tracks. Then, as we moved forward to the mile-and-a-halves and the short tracks, there are little things that we’ve been doing at SHR versus what Penske has been doing or Roush or RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports), and so we want to try to share the information but, at the same time, you’ve got to keep the technology in-house. So, Ford has a nice balance of what they’ve asked us to do and how we’re all sharing information moving forward. Really, it’s a unique situation with having Doug Yates as our engine builder. He’s really smart. He’s on top of everything. So whether it’s the oiling system, the water cooling system, different gear ratios and things, we’ve been working closely together on those.”

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

What does it take to be fast at Michigan?

“Michigan is a tough place because of the way the cars have that grip level on fresh tires versus old tires. What I mean by that is, when you put on fresh tires, your tires are cold and they don’t grab the asphalt as well. A lot of guys try to stay out at Michigan with the hot tires on and they get better restarts. Restarts at Michigan are already pretty wild with how wide the track is and how many lanes there are for options. It comes down to just trying to put yourself in the best position with the best-percentage chance of whether it’s fresh tires, or it’s staying out, or it’s making spots up on restarts.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2017 Michigan II Advance

CLINT BOWYER

Life on the Bubble Isn’t All That Bad

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (August 7, 2017) – Clint Bowyer sits on the bubble that floats between those drivers who have secured a berth through victory in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series 16-driver playoffs and those hoping to win or acquire enough points to join in the 10-race title battle.

Bowyer is 17th in the standings, trailing 16th-place Matt Kenseth by 26 points, 15th-place Jamie McMurray by 34 points and 14th-place Chase Elliott by 39 points. Assuming there will be no first-time race winners the remainder of the regular season, Bowyer needs to outscore one of those drivers or drive his No. 14 Ford to victory lane to gain entry to the playoffs.

Counting Sunday’s 400-mile race at Michigan International Raceway in Brooklyn, only four races remain in the regular season before the start of the playoffs Sept. 17 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.

Bowyer admits he can hear the sands in the hourglass running out on the regular season. He also knows most every question he’ll get from media and race fans the next few weeks will likely remind him of the playoff bid and the accompanying pressure.

So, how is he handling it all? Bowyer says he is enjoying the moment.

“This is a lot of fun,” said the Emporia, Kansas native who replaced three-time champion and Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) co-owner Tony Stewart in the No. 14 in 2017. “I love this time of year. There’s no pressure. This is racing and it’s fun.”

Many might ask how he can joke about something that’s been at the top of his bucket list since February, something that is also accompanied by sponsor and team hopes. Bowyer’s confidence comes from knowing he and his crew chief Mike Bugarewicz-led team are doing the right things to win races, as well as from his past success.

Bowyer owns three top-five and five top-10 points finishes in 11 NASCAR Cup Series seasons.

“You just have to take it in stride and go out and do your job,” said Bowyer, who also won the NASCAR Xfinity Series title in 2008. “It’s no different than the first time I climbed into the No. 14 Ford down in Daytona. We knew then that we needed a win and we still know we need a win. We’ve been close this year. Three second-place finishes but we have to push through and get that win.”

Bowyer knows the strength of the competition in the sport these days, but he’s also aware he’s showing up at the track with a chance each weekend. That will be no different in the next four races.

“I’m with the right team with Buga (Bugarewicz) and the crew, right organization with SHR and right manufacturer with Ford,” he said. “We just have to put it together. Our time is coming. It’s going to happen. But it needs to happen pretty soon.”

It could happen this weekend at Michigan, where Bowyer has scored a top-five and 11 top-10s in 23 starts at the 2-mile, D-shaped, ultra-fast oval. He’ll pilot the No. 14 Ford carrying the Nature’s Bakery paint scheme for the final time in 2017. He hopes to continue his recent streak of good performances that included a fifth-place finish at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International last weekend.

Bowyer can go a long way toward improving his playoff chances this weekend in Michigan.

Who knows? He might even burst that bubble.

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Nature’s Bakery Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What is the key to victory at Michigan?

“A fast hot rod goes a long way in this sport. We’ve been running up front, we have to stay there and get a little bit better. Improvement is always what you want. You want to just keep improving and getting better. That is really all you can ask for. I am pretty proud of us getting better. Hopefully we will keep improving as years go on.”

DANICA PATRICK – 2017 Michigan II Advance

DANICA PATRICK

Back to the Routine

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Aug. 8, 2017) – After spending a weekend in Watkins Glen, New York, making both right- and left-hand turns at one of only two road courses on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) look to settle back into their normal routine as the series travels to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.

Prior to last weekend’s race at the Watkins Glen International road course, Patrick and the No. 10 team had earned four consecutive top-15 finishes on oval tracks of varying length. Those results include a 15th-place effort at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, 13th at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, 11th at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway and 15th at the 2.5-mile Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

Patrick came close to making it five top-15 finishes in a row last weekend at Watkins Glen but, after running as high as 11th, midrace contact dropped her back toward the tail of the field. Patrick was only able to race her way back up to 22nd before taking the checkered flag.

This weekend, Patrick and the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford team return to Michigan International Speedway, a 2-mile oval. In the June event at the track, Patrick and the team had their shot at a top-15 run dashed by late-race contact. She was scored 15th when contact with another car on a restart with 10 laps to go sent the No. 10 Ford into the inside wall and relegated the team to a 37th-place finish.

Patrick has nine NASCAR Cup Series starts at Michigan and her best result is a 13th-place effort earned in June 2013. She has four top-20 finishes at the track.

In addition to her NASCAR Cup Series experience at Michigan, Patrick has made two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track and her best finish was an 18th-place result earned in June 2012.

Patrick also has three IndyCar Series starts at Michigan with one of those a top-10 effort when she finished seventh in August 2007 after leading five laps.

This weekend, Patrick and the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford team plan to utilize that past experience to get back into a routine and hopefully earn another top-15 finish at Michigan.

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

What kind of challenges does Michigan present?

“It’s really easy to have an imbalance at Michigan, whether it’s getting the power down on exit or most of the time being tight. I feel like it produces some great racing and there’s a lot of drafting, so you can use that to help pass cars.”

What are your thoughts on racing at Michigan?

“Michigan is a wide, fast track. There’s lots of room to move around and try different lines. I think it’s a momentum track and you have to focus on being smooth. At the end of the day, the car has to handle well. It has to feel good. It has to be a fast car. I think those are the challenges – getting your car to handle well and being smooth and consistent, lap after lap, at such a fast track.”

KURT BUSCH – 2017 Watkins Glen Race Advance

Kurt Busch has been successful at road-course racing throughout his NASCAR career.

It started in 2000 as a young driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He finished second in the road-course race at Watkin Glen (N.Y.) International and 11th at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway. In his three NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Watkins Glen, he started first in each, won two (2006 and 2011) and finished third in 2007. In these three races Busch led 98 of the 250 laps available (39.2 percent).

In the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Busch swept the poles for both road-course races in 2006. He won his fifth career Cup Series pole at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June and sixth at Watkins Glen in August, marking the only Cup Series poles Busch has earned on a road course.

He scored his first Cup Series road-course victory at Sonoma in 2011, leading a race-high 76 laps. Busch passed Denny Hamlin for the lead on lap 13 and stayed out front for the next 19 circuits around the 1.99-mile track. He relinquished the lead twice for scheduled, green-flag pit stops and took over the top spot for the final time on lap 88, leading the final 23 laps.

That means only Watkins Glen is left for Busch to score a road course victory in the Cup Series and he’s hoping the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion is up to the challenge. He has finished in the top-11 the last four years at The Glen, highlighted by a third-place drive in 2014.

Busch will have help from crew chief Tony Gibson, who was a car chief for Hendrick Motorsports and Jeff Gordon from 1999 until 2001. The team won both road-course races in 1999 (and the pole at Sonoma), won at Sonoma in 2000 and won at Watkins Glen in 2001.

Busch is hoping he can be a force on the road course as NASCAR’s summer stretch rolls on.

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

 

You’ve won a race at Sonoma and won Xfinity races at Watkins Glen. What does it take to be successful on the road courses?

“I think the biggest thing, as a driver, is maintaining the pace throughout the race. I’ve struggled a little bit in the races at Watkins Glen with braking power and I was too hard on the brakes, early in the race. It’s weird though, the Xfinity races I’ve run there and won, the brakes stayed consistent for me in that car. So I’ve just got to find the right combination with the Monster Energy Cup car because at Sonoma, we never really had any brake issue. So I think that is the key. If we find that right balance, that will help us stay consistent, and then you have the lap times at the end of the race where you can be competitive for a win.”

Should NASCAR run the “boot” at Watkins Glen?

“It would be interesting to see how it would play out. Are the corners in the boot too slow compared to the rest of the corners? And then I’ve heard that if we ran the boot, then the race distance would be shorter because the track is longer. And then the fans only get the see the cars come by them X amount of times and that’s why I’ve heard we don’t run the boot.”

Is there a road course in the world that you would like to run that you haven’t? Is there a “bucket list” track for you?  

“Oh yeah. To run the 24 Hours of Le Mans, or Monaco. I’ve never been to Laguna Seca. I’ve always raced in Sonoma and been to northern California many times, but I’ve never even gone to the property of Laguna Seca. I’ve just seen it on TV and video games. I would love to go there.”

 

 

How is stage racing on the road course compared to the ovals?

“I think it all depends on the speed of your car and the position you’re running on the racetrack. With the guaranteed yellow at the end of the stages, if you’re running eighth, ninth or 10th, you’re almost in the worst spot because you want to stay out and gain those couple of bonus points for that stage. But if you’re running 11th and you have no chance of catching 10th, of course you’re going to pit before the yellow comes out. So you’ve got to pit two laps before and that way you forfeit your track position at the point, but you get your tires on and you’re looking to be in good position to leapfrog those top-10 guys who stayed out to gain those points. So it just depends how you’re running. I giggle a lot when we’re running 11th and the stage flag comes out, it’s like, wow, we’re the best-running car that got no points. I always think, man, what should we have done at that moment? But at a lot of the oval tracks you’re going to lose a lap when you pit (under green), where on the road courses you’re not going to lose a lap. And so it’s a different game, dramatically. If you’re in one of those top-three or four spots, yeah, you’re going to be aggressive to try and gain that stage win, yet you don’t want to end up with a flat tire or with damage that will hurt your chances for later in the race. You have to keep in mind that two-thirds of the points available in a race are when the checkered flag drops, not when a stage flag drops.”

Is road-course racing a little more intense than it was in years past?

“It just seems like the gentlemen’s agreement or the etiquette of how road-course races were run in years past is less and less each year. Everybody’s really bumping and grinding a lot harder. They’re not afraid to throw in the front bumper when it’s not supposed to be in that position. That’s why I think the road courses have become the fan favorites because of the energy level and the amount of contact that is available at the road courses. You can feel it, you can sense it in the car, you know when you go to Sonoma or Watkins Glen that the contact is going to be there and guys aren’t afraid to mix it up anymore. It will be pretty wild to have a road-course race during the playoffs next year at Charlotte. We’ll see how that plays out. What I like is that there is a road course that will be in the playoffs and that’s going to require the drivers to be more versatile.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2017 Watkins Glen NXS Race Advance

Event:             Zippo 200 at The Glen
Date:               Saturday, August 5, 2017
Location:        Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International
Layout:           2.45-mile road course

Kevin Harvick Notes of Interest

 

  • FIELDS makes its debut with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) as a primary sponsor with driver Kevin Harvick.
  • FIELDS is an internationally recognized sports fields and parks master planning, pre-construction, construction, maintenance and operations organization headquartered in the greater Atlanta area. It provides end-to-end or single-source solutions to a wide range of clients who are seeking to address their sports applications needs.
  • Harvick is making his fifth of six scheduled XFINITY Series starts in the No. 41 Ford Mustang for SHR in 2017.
  • He finished fourth at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March, third at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in April, second at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May, fourth at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
  • Harvick has one win, one pole, six top-five finishes, seven top-10s and has led 80 laps in seven XFINITY starts at Watkins Glen.
  • Harvick won the XFINITY Series race at Watkins Glen in August 2011 by 3.529 seconds over Jeff Burton.
  • Harvick won the XFINITY Series pole at The Glen in August 2009 with a lap at 121.998 mph.
  • His XFINITY Series career includes 46 wins, 182 top-five finishes, 254 top-10s, 25 poles and 9,444 laps led in 339 starts.
  • Harvick will be joined Saturday by SHR teammate Cole Custer in the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang at The Glen.

 

Kevin Harvick, Driver No. 41 FIELDS Ford Mustang 

 

“I can’t thank FIELDS enough for supporting me in NASCAR XFINITY Series visit to Watkins Glen. They came on to help me work on our road-course program this year and we got off to a pretty good start with a win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma. When we planned out our year we really wanted to focus on our road-course program knowing that Charlotte Motor Speedway is adding the roval next year in the playoffs. This allows us to do that and also bring on a partner in FIELDS that has worked with us through the Kevin Harvick Foundation and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation parks that we’ve built over the last few years in Greensboro, North Carolina, in my hometown of Bakersfield, California and our most recent field in Vero Beach, Florida. It’s a chance for us to highlight their work and at the same time work on our program to always be improving another area of our race team.”

 

Richard Boswell, Crew Chief, No. 41 FIELDS Ford Mustang

 

You called Kevin Harvick’s race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma. Is there anything that you can take from that experience and apply to the XFINITY race at Watkins Glen?

“Yes. I think the biggest thing is in understanding how Kevin communicates when you’re turning left and right. That’s a big help. The FIELDS car helped me at Sonoma in understanding the communication, but also being there for the Cup race on Sunday allowed me to listen to (crew Chief) Rodney (Childers) and Kevin communicate as well. That’s the biggest thing that we’ll take away from our experience in Sonoma.”

How much have you been able to lean on Rodney Childers for information in preparing your XFINITY cars?

“He helps with pretty much anything we need. You know, he’s awesome and he helps a ton. If we have a question he is as helpful as he can be. If he doesn’t have the answer right away he does everything he can to get it for us.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2017 Watkins Glen Race Advance

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will make his 34th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at a road course this weekend when the NASCAR Cup Series visits Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International for Sunday’s I LOVE NEW YORK 355k at The Glen.

The Bakersfield, California native is one of only two active drivers to claim a NASCAR Cup Series victory at both Watkins Glen International and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Kyle Busch is the other active Cup Series driver to make that claim.

Harvick added his first-career win at Sonoma in June, when he started 12th, led 24 laps and finished ahead of SHR teammate Clint Bowyer when the race ended under caution. He also won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West the day before the Cup race.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion scored his lone Cup Series victory at Watkins Glen in 2006, when he started seventh and led 28 of 90 laps and beat current SHR co-owner Tony Stewart to the finish line by 0.892 of a second.

In 2015, Harvick started fourth, led 29 laps and appeared to have the race won with a sizable lead on the final lap. But he ran out of fuel in the final turn and coasted to a third-place finish behind race winner Joey Logano and runner-up Kyle Busch.

Harvick also visited victory lane in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Watkins Glen in August 2007. He started 11th and turned in a dominant performance after quickly racing his way to the front, leading 49 of 82 laps and beating runner-up Jeff Burton by 3.529 seconds.

Harvick will get additional seat time this weekend on the 2.45-mile road course as he seeks his second win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at The Glen. He will be behind the wheel of the No. 41 FIELDS, Inc. Ford Mustang for SHR on Saturday afternoon.

Twenty-one races into 2017, Harvick sits third in the Cup Series standings and trails leader Martin Truex Jr. by 97 points. He is also tied for seventh in Cup Series playoff points with eight to his credit with five races to go before the start of the 2017 playoffs.

While Harvick and the No. 4 team are virtually a lock to make the 16-driver field for the playoffs, gaining bonus points for additional stage and race wins is now their top priority through the next five races, starting this weekend at Watkins Glen.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Fusion:

 

What is the key to having a good race at Watkins Glen International?

“Watkins Glen is really fast, so the biggest thing there is to get your car good under braking so you can make passes during the race. Usually, where you can gain the most time is in the braking zones.”

Are the road courses still odd-ball races, or do they seem like just another race now?

“They are pretty much just another race now. I think everybody knows that you are going to a road course and you’ve got a lot of different aspects from a driver’s standpoint and the team standpoint that you have to pay attention to.”

What sections or turns are the most challenging at Watkins Glen International?

“It just depends on how your car is handling. I think they can all present problems. As the race goes on, turn one becomes more of an issue because it’s downhill and the brakes start to get worn out. The wheel hop becomes more prevalent as the race goes on. That is the one you’ve got to watch for me during the race, but they all present different challenges.”

 

How does Watkins Glen International differ from Sonoma Raceway?

“There is a lot of speed difference. At Watkins Glen, you go from turn one, up through the esses and into the inner loop and end up running about 170 to 180 miles per hour down the backstretch. At Sonoma, you’re lucky to get above 100 miles per hour, so speed is definitely the biggest difference.”