There are 36 points-paying races on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series calendar, and there are four that are heavy on importance – the fall races at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway roval, Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, ISM Raceway near Phoenix, and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
There first three are the cutoff races as the NASCAR playoffs go from 16 drivers down to 12, then to eight and finally four at Homestead.
Currently, there are 12 drivers left in playoffs contention and, this week, the series hits Kansas Speedway for the second cutoff race where, at its conclusion, only eight drivers will still be in the playoffs. Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney are locked into the final eight via their wins at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway the past two weekends.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s 3 Dollar Little John Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is sixth in points with 3,094 markers, 36 ahead of the eighth-place cutoff. All that said, Harvick would prefer just to win Kansas to lock himself in and give the team a little momentum. And he is good at Kansas.
In the spring of 2018, Harvick started on the pole, led 79 laps and went on to win the 400-mile race. He has a series-high five poles, three wins, three second-place finishes, eight top-threes, 14 top-10s and has led a total of 855 laps in his 27 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kansas.
His lap of 27.304 seconds at 197.773 mph on Oct. 3, 2014 during qualifying for the Hollywood Casino 400 set the Kansas track record that has yet to be broken. In fact, it was his own track record he broke at the 1.5-mile oval that day, bettering his previous mark of 27.799 seconds at 194.658 mph set on May 9, 2014.
He’ll also have the support of longtime sponsor Jimmy John’s, one of America’s fastest-growing sandwich franchises, which has introduced the Little John – a skinny mini version of any of its seven Original sandwiches, including the Vito®, the Turkey Tom®, and the J.J.B.L.T.® – for just $3.
The $3 Little John is an unrivaled value option and is made the same Freaky Fresh® way as all Jimmy John’s sandwiches, with all-natural meats, hand-sliced veggies, and fresh-baked bread, just a little “littler.” Its price, quality, and size make it the perfect sandwich for just about anything, from feeding a car full of hungry kids to a lighter work lunch, to a mid-afternoon snack, or even fueling a late-night gaming session.
The $3 Little John is available at participating Jimmy John’s locations across the country and for delivery by a Jimmy John’s delivery driver or rider and will be supported by a national advertising campaign featuring Grammy-winning recording artist, Lil Jon – for obvious reasons.
Harvick is hoping he can take the 3 Dollar Little John to victory lane – and also lock himself into the Round of 8.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s 3 Dollar Little John Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and you are the only drivers to start all 27 races at Kansas Speedway. You’ve been racing there since 2001. Can you talk about the track as it approaches its 20-year anniversary?
“It makes you feel old (laughs). I did one of the first PR days at Kansas Speedway when it first opened and there was not one single thing around that racetrack other than the highway. So to see what’s been built has been neat to see and how it’s all developed and how it’s all changed. It’s a fun racetrack because there is just so much to do around the racetrack and it’s been a successful racetrack for us.”
Why have you been so successful there recently?
“I don’t really know. It’s a racetrack where I’ve won a couple races at and for whatever reason it just kind of fits my style and what we do with the cars. We’ve had a lot of good racecars there to capitalize on the good characteristics that fall into my driving style and we’ve been able to have some good results with it.”
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 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.”