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.”