Kevin Harvick is looking to score his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and his second straight at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. If Harvick is able to score his second win in a row at Kansas Speedway, he’ll have to do it under the lights Saturday night in the Go Bowling 400.
The driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) won the most recent NASCAR Cup Series event at Kansas Speedway in October 2016, when he started 11th, led 74 laps and beat runner-up Carl Edwards to the finish line by 1.183 seconds. The win came in a must-win situation during the NASCAR Playoffs after Harvick suffered a mechanical failure the week before in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway that resulted in a 38th-place finish that left him 12th in the standings. He trailed Denny Hamlin by eight points for the final transfer position into the Round of 8 with Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway looming the following week.
It was the second Cup Series win for Harvick, who also won the NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas in October 2013, when he started from the pole position, led 138 of 267 laps and beat current SHR teammate Kurt Busch to the finish line by 1.140 seconds to score his first Cup Series victory at the 1.5-mile oval.
The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion also owns the Cup Series qualifying record at Kansas, which he set May 9, 2014 with a lap of 27.799 seconds at 194.658 in the second round of qualifying. That attempt won him his second of three consecutive Sprint Cup poles at Kansas from October 2013 through October 2014.
He also has three runner-up finishes in six Cup Series starts at Kansas since joining SHR in February 2014.
This weekend will also serve as a warm-up for next weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race under the lights at the 1.5-mile Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway track. Harvick will have added pressure next week when he is behind the wheel of the No. 4 Busch Bucks Ford Fusion.
Busch Beer will reward a loyal Busch Beer consumer with an all-expenses-paid trip to Charlotte for the All-Star Race, but if Harvick takes the $1 million purse for winning the NASCAR All-Star Race, the lucky fan also will receive a $1 million grand prize from Busch Beer.
Aside from a cut tire at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March that resulted in a 38th-place finish, Harvick and the No. 4 team have been dominant at 1.5-mile racetracks in 2017. Harvick won the pole and led 292 of 325 laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the second Cup Series event of the season. At Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Harvick won the pole with a lap of 27.217 seconds at 198.405 mph, then went on to lead 77 laps and finish fourth.
What makes those numbers even more encouraging is that the No. 4 team is bringing Chassis No. 4-929 to the Go Bowling 400. Chassis No. 4-929 has won the pole position for every race the team has ever brought it to. It made its NASCAR Cup Series debut at Charlotte in October, when it won the pole with lap of 27.547 seconds at 196.029 mph, led 12 laps, but failed to finish the race due to a mechanical issue. It made its second appearance in the 2016 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, when it won a second consecutive pole with a lap of 30.399 seconds at 177.637 mph. In its only 2017 appearance to date at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March, Harvick won his third consecutive pole with Chassis No. 4-929 with a lap of 29.118 seconds at 190.398 mph in the final round of qualifying.
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. Since joining SHR at the beginning of 2014, Harvick has never gone to Kansas in May still in search of his first win of the season. He hopes to change that luck with a dominant performance Saturday night.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You’ve performed much stronger at Kansas the last couple of years. Is that because of the repave, or did you find something you were missing previously?
“The repave is definitely what changed and turned things around for us at Kansas. Really, I liked the racetrack the way it was before with the asphalt really worn out and cars sliding all over. But, once the repave happened, we were able to really hit on some things and, for whatever reason, it kind of fits my driving style and we have gotten some good results out of it. It has been a really good-performing racetrack for us and one that we look forward to going to and hopefully continue to get good results out of it because it’s been so good for us in the past.”
Take us on a lap around Kansas.
“It’s definitely a little bit different just for the fact the (corner) entries are a little different than at most places. Turns three and four remind me of turns three and four at Chicagoland Speedway, but there’s a lot more grip and a lot fresher asphalt than what Chicagoland has nowadays. It’s a very high-speed racetrack. You run the middle to the bottom of the racetrack. But I’m sure, as time goes on, that the groove will move back up. But, for right now, it’s very fast and very sensitive to your line and, with all the speed and how tricky the entrance is into turn one, you can miss your line easily. So, you have to be very specific about where you put your car and pay attention to what you’re doing.”