Kevin Harvick is third in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points and has scored six consecutive top-10 finishes.
That’s Harvick’s most consecutive top-10s since last summer, when he had eight consecutive top-10s between July 14 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and Sept. 10 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The only difference is that last summer, during that stretch, he won races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn and, in 2019, his win total is zero.
Harvick and his crew chief Rodney Childers are hoping to change that this week at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. And they’ve done it before.
In August of 2016, in his third season with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), Harvick started 24th at Bristol but led 128 laps en route to victory. He also won at Bristol while driving for Richard Childress Racing in April 2005.
All told, Harvick has one pole, 12 top-five finishes, 19 top-10s and has led a total of 884 laps in his 36 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol. His average start there is 17.1, his average finish is 13.2 and he has a lap-completion rate of 97.9 percent – 17,657 of the 18,127 laps available.
And his car this week will look a bit different as Hunt Brothers Pizza will be his sponsor for Bristol. Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for SHR. Hunt Brothers Pizza has sponsored Harvick in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for several years and, last year, Harvick took the company to victory lane by winning at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Harvick has also won two NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series races with Hunt Brothers as a sponsor at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in 2011 and at Bristol earlier that season. So Harvick and Hunt Brothers Pizza officials certainly know where victory lane is at the .533-mile Bristol oval.
And it’s a big step up for Hunt Brother Pizza as the company has never sponsored Harvick in a NASCAR Cup Series race. It’s a “home state” race for Hunt Brothers Pizza, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Harvick, Hunt Brothers Pizza and the rest of the No. 4 team are hoping they can “cook up” a victory this week.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Where is the balance between entertainment and competition after the changes announced last week?
“As far as the schedule, in my opinion, the 2020 schedule is a huge step in the right direction and I think those round ends and putting Bristol in there and having Daytona be the last race of the regular season, I think there’s a tremendous amount of really good things that are put in there and I think that will continue to get better as you go into ’21 and you see those track agreements come to an end at the end of ’20. The one thing I would like to see with that two-week gap in there, I’d love to see that first week include a mandatory shop closure of all the race teams to really rejuvenate the guys, gals and everybody in the sport to come back fresh and really get kind of a midseason break. You see them do that in Formula 1 and I really think, for the morale and just to keep everybody from getting just beat into the ground, I think that would be something that would be really interesting to see happen. But I think, from a schedule standpoint, we definitely have some really good changes that were in there. There’s always going to have to be an entertainment value and there’s always going to be a balance and I think, when you look at the penalties in qualifying, it still really doesn’t fix a lot of the things that I personally don’t like about qualifying. I can’t wrap my arms around being last to be first, but I love group qualifying and group qualifying and this package are just hard to marry together on a lot of these racetracks because you have to draft. So it’s a tough scenario to try to figure out, and we go out and try to do the best we can in the scenario we’re in and go from there and, if it changes, it changes. If it doesn’t it doesn’t.”
Is it hard to communicate inside the racecar at Bristol because everything happens so fast?
“It’s definitely loud and hard for the teams to hear. One of the hardest things at Bristol is just to see what’s going on. I have crashed at Bristol and gone back to watch it on TV and you’re like, ‘What in the hell were you doing? You just ran into four or five cars that have been sitting there for two seconds.’ But, Bristol is a very demanding racetrack. It’s very hard because things happen so fast, communication is hard. It’s easy to make a mistake or pile into a wreck. It’s easy to wreck somebody or to get into a fight. It’s easy to do a lot of things because there is just so much happening. It’s a tough place to race, to put it all together, and it’s mentally and physically exhausting.”