Kevin Harvick has started six NASCAR Cup Series races in 2020 and has one win, four top-five finishes and six top-10s, which would explain why he leads the driver standings by 34 points over Joey Logano.
Harvick has a solid start to the season despite the 70-day break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of it has to do with the fact he is a veteran with 688 starts and has been with crew chief Rodney Childers for seven years, longer than any other active driver-crew chief combination.
And he should be good as the series moves to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the longest race of the year, the Coca-Cola 600. Harvick has two career poles at Charlotte to go with three wins, four second-place finishes, eight top-threes, 17 top-10s, and has led a total of 542 laps in his 36 career NASCAR Cup Series points-paying starts on the 1.5-mile oval. His average start is 15.7, his average finish is 15.4 and he has a lap-completion rate of 94.4 percent, completing 12,263 of the 12,991 laps available.
Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) coming off the first Wednesday race in 36 years, which took place at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. And he’ll race the 600-mile race Sunday and then turn around and race a 310-mile race at Charlotte on Wednesday night.
While the return to racing has been on everyone’s mind, so are our nation’s heroes, especially on Memorial Day weekend.
Harvick will have the name of Army SSGT Kristofferson “Kris” Bernardo Lorenzo on the windshield of his No. 4 Ford Mustang for the Coca-Cola 600. Lorenzo was killed with three other soldiers on May 23, 2011, in Eastern Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
The men were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. It was Lorenzo’s third deployment to a war zone.
He was born in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and moved to the United States and graduated from Mount Miguel High School in Spring Valley, California, just outside of San Diego.
Lorenzo loved cars and often helped his friends as a mechanic. He also enjoyed racing, but also took pride in his heritage, donning shirts decorated with the stars of the Filipino flag and striking up conversations with Filipino strangers.
He loved his family, friends and food, with pork sinigang soup being his favorite.
Lorenzo is buried at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego.
He is survived by his wife, Leah Liza Lorenzo and sons Keane and Tristan, as well as his father and stepmother, Saturnino Lorenzo Jr., and Aurora Lorenzo, of San Diego; his sisters, Catherine Lorenzo-Ligason, of San Diego, and Charina Lorenzo-Dela Cruz, of Camarillo, and many relatives in San Marcos and the Philippines.
Harvick hopes to score career victory number 51 in honor of Lorenzo and all the fallen heroes.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You’ve had a few days to reflect. What does it mean to you to get 50 wins?
“You know what, as I went through Sunday night and into Monday morning, went through Tuesday and got to Darlington, just the amount of people that have called. Fifty wins was great. I’m not knocking that by any means. Being next to Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett is quite an honor. I don’t want to degrade that at all. But the impact that Sunday had on the country, as I got text messages from congressman Kevin McCarthy talking about how great it was for America, (Philadelphia Phillies manager) Joe Girardi talking about how great it was for sports, how it gave them hope for baseball. The PGA called, talking about how the sports world was watching NASCAR to see what they needed to do to get their players back safely. The impact was way bigger than 50 wins. It was way bigger than breaking a tie with Tony Stewart. The impact of that race on Sunday meant so much in so many different directions. Totally on my part underestimated the impact that Sunday’s event had. Being the winner of that really, really drove it home for me, not only after the race with the fans not being in the stands, the lack of enthusiasm that you didn’t have, to share all your enthusiasm with everybody. There were just so many moments that were just so much bigger than anything that had anything to do with my stats. I was just really proud of our sport at that particular point for putting on a safe event and doing the things we did.”
You’ve talked before about trying different things with the schedule. Does the midweek race show you that Wednesday-night, midweek races can work going forward?
“Well, we did it. Like I said before, we can make it work. From a team standpoint and from competitors, it’s great if we can shorten the schedule, do all those things. In the end, the telltale sign is going to be when those TV numbers come out. If they’re good, that’s what drives everything. That’s what everybody sells their sponsorship on, that’s what we all want to see, is great TV numbers. We’d love the fans at the racetrack, but in the end the biggest stick comes from how many people turn on the TV.”
Is the Coca-Cola 600 more physically or mentally challenging?
“It just depends on how hot it is, honestly. If it’s a good weekend and the weather is nice, then it’s more mentally challenging than physically challenging. Either way, it’s still challenging both mentally and physically in some way, shape or form. The hardest part mentally is just getting yourself to overcome those last hundred miles because you are used to the 400- or 500-mile races.”
What does it mean to honor and remember a military member on your No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford this Memorial Day weekend?
“There isn’t any sport that honors the military any better than NASCAR. I know a lot of sports do a lot of things for our military but, when you roll into this particular weekend with the Coke 600 and you are a part of the celebration and remembrance for all the things that have happened with our military, to see the support that NASCAR and everybody in our garage gives the military, especially on this particular weekend, is something that gives you goosebumps. We are honored to carry the names (of fallen soldiers) on our cars.”
RODNEY CHILDERS, Crew Chief of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You started off early in the season, didn’t finish worse than ninth. You came in the points leader through the two-month break. Did you feel this past week kind of capped what you had already shown as potential through the first four races of the season?
“Well, that’s one thing I talked about a lot with the guys, is just we don’t necessarily have to go out there and win every race. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing, keep knocking out top-fives and top-10s. It’s easy to say top-10s, but that’s not really the goal, either. It needs to be top-fives. We were able to do that twice this week. But I think these situations have always been good for us. I think unloading off the truck is something that my group does a really good job at. I told the guys, ‘We need to take advantage of this over the next month and do the best we can because, if you look back through history, our stats of unloading off the truck fast are pretty good.’ That’s the thing we need to do. We don’t need to let people have time to catch up, whether it be practice or whatever. We strive to be the best when we get here and unload. It’s not always going to be that way. Lord, everybody goes through swings. There’s going to be one of these things in the next seven races that we miss it big-time and have to make big changes.”