Kevin Harvick is heading to the Irish Hills of Michigan with Jimmy John’s on the hood of his No. 4 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) for Sunday’s FireKeepers 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn looking to score his first win of the season.
Jimmy John’s prides itself on being “Freaky Fast” and “Freaky Fresh,” which is the perfect fit for when the NASCAR Cup Series heads north to Michigan International Speedway. The wide racing surface, long straightaways and sweeping corners make Michigan the fastest track on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
The good news for Jimmy John’s and the No. 4 team is that Harvick has been among the best in the series at the 2-mile oval in recent years, scoring top-five finishes in seven of his last eight 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.
His lone finish outside the top-five over the last eight NASCAR Cup Series races at Michigan came in June 2015, when he started second and led 63 laps. But rain shortened the scheduled 200-lap event to just 138 laps and he finished 29th. He followed that by posting yet another runner-up effort in August 2015, when he started seventh, led 15 laps and finished 1.722 seconds behind race-winner Matt Kenseth.
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.
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 on Sunday at Michigan. A win would be Harvick’s first of the 2017 season and secure his place in NASCAR’s 2017 Playoffs.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s 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.”