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.”