Kevin Harvick will be part of a wild 500-lap race Saturday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will be one among 40 competitors on the high-banked .533-mile oval. And with this being the final race in the Round of 16 in the NASCAR playoffs, four drivers will not advance to the next round.
Thankfully for Harvick, he has already guaranteed his spot in the Round of 12 via his Sept. 6 victory in the playoff opener at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. So while it may be wild around him, he won’t be as worried as those still fighting for a spot to advance in the playoffs.
Harvick has two wins, one pole, 12 top-five finishes, 19 top-10s and has led a total of 912 laps in his 39 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol. His average start there is 16.5, his average finish is 13.8 and he has a lap-completion rate of 96.8 percent – 18,901 of the 19,527 laps available.
He has competed in 29 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Bristol with five wins, 15 top-fives and 24 top-10 finishes with two pole positions. He has driven in five NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series events at Bristol and has one win and four top-10s.
If Harvick gets to lap 274 at Bristol, he will pass the late Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Cup Series laps completed. Harvick is 16th all-time in laps completed with 202,615 after Saturday’s race at Bristol.
He reached 200,000 laps completed on lap 222 of the July 19 race at Texas. Harvick is the leader among active drivers and could pass Earnhardt, who is 15th with 202,888, this week at Bristol.
Harvick is having a stellar year as he has led the points since March 8 after the race at Phoenix International Raceway. He has a series-high eight wins, 18 top-five finishes which are the third-most in his career, behind the 23 he had in 2015 and 2018. Harvick also has 23 top-10s, which continues his streak of more than 20 top-10s since the 2013 season. He has also led 1,190 laps, which is the fifth time in the last seven years he has accomplished that feat.
While Harvick won’t be part of the wildness this week, he’d love to get victory number nine – and more points.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Is it difficult 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.”
Back in May, did you think we would ever get to this point where we would be all caught up on the schedule starting the playoffs and actually start having fans back at races?
“You know, I think back in May, I probably thought that, but as we went through so many different situations of things happening, and you see all the things in the world that are happening and just the way that so many things were changing so rapidly, as we got those last five or six races announced, you didn’t really know if you were actually going to get to go to some of these racetracks. And then you see Watkins Glen pulled, and then we go to Daytona. I think it says a lot about the plan that we actually have – has NASCAR done a great job of navigating everything and having backup plans? I don’t think it’s over yet, either. I think there are still some things to navigate – it sounds like as we go forward, so it’s just, ‘You just kind of roll with the punches.’ And honestly, I just quit paying attention because it’ll wear you out. But everybody has done a great job to get us back on schedule and had a great plan, and it’s pretty unbelievable to see where we are today.”