Every NASCAR race is important and the ultimate goal of any team and driver is to win. Period.
True, some races are bigger than others – think of Daytona, Indianapolis, Charlotte and Darlington.
Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn is an important race for the drivers, but also for the manufacturers. Ford and General Motors’ Chevrolet brand are based just outside of Detroit, and the Michigan race is important for bragging rights between Ford, Chevy and Toyota.
Kevin Harvick helped Ford last year when he drove the No. 4 Busch Light/Mobil 1 Ford Fusion to victory lane. He started third and led 108 of 200 laps.
For Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400, Harvick returns to Michigan with the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang. Once again, he and Ford are hoping to make it back to victory lane. And this time, Harvick and the other Ford drivers will be behind the wheel of their respective Mustang models, as Ford switched from the Fusion to the Mustang for the 2019 season.
The Blue Oval has a long history at Michigan, winning nearly half the races run there since the track opened in 1969. Of the 99 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races contested at Michigan, Ford and its Mercury brand have combined for 49 wins – 37 by Ford and 12 by Mercury.
All told, Harvick has two wins, one pole, seven second-place finishes, 12 top-fives, 17 top-10s and has led a total of 480 laps in his 36 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Michigan. His average start there is 15.0, his average finish is 12.1, and he has a lap-completion rate of 99.4 percent – 6,932 of the 6,974 laps available.
The combination of Harvick competing at Michigan in SHR equipment is impressive, as well. In his last 10 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Michigan – all of which have come with SHR – Harvick has one win and four runner-up finishes and only one finish worse than 14th – 29th in June 2015. And of the 480 total laps Harvick has led at Michigan dating back to his rookie year in 2001, 331, or 68.9 percent, have come with SHR despite only 10, or 27.7 percent, of his 36 Michigan starts being with SHR.
This weekend also marks Harvick the broadcaster’s eighth and final FOX NASCAR Xfinity Series race of the year. He will be in the booth with Adam Alexander and Bubba Wallace for Saturday’s race.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
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. 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.”
Next week is the second off weekend of the year. There are only three all year. How valuable are the off weekends?
“You know, for me, I’d rather just race them all, to be honest with you, just because of the fact that I feel like our life is so embedded into what we do on the weekends, and with (son) Keelan’s school schedule and the balance of how we do things and when we do things, it’s just a part of the routine at this particular point. So if there were no off weekends, I’d still go on vacation. I’d still do all the things that I typically do. They’re just going to be Monday through Thursday and you’re going to go to the race and then you’re going to come back Monday through Thursday. And we’ve learned to keep that circle of life pretty balanced with how you navigate things and, you know, sometimes people don’t understand it, but it works for us. And the race schedule is just the first thing that is there and you start planning, planning from what it is.”