Everyone who grew up in the 1980s loved the movie Back to the Future, starring Michael J. Fox.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Throwback Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, is hoping to go Back to the Future for the next week en route the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship.
The Busch Beer Throwback scheme pays tribute to Harvick’s championships in what was then known as the NASCAR Busch (now Xfinity) Series. He won his first in 2001 and followed that up with another in 2006. Those titles helped Harvick learn how to win championships, which he did at the Cup Series level in 2014.
He’s hoping to add the 2020 title to his Cup Series resume and become just the 17th driver to win it twice or more. He’s had a tremendous year with a series-high seven victories, 17, top-five finishes and 21 top-10s.
Harvick is now tied for ninth with Kyle Busch on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list with 56, and he’s 20 behind the late Dale Earnhardt, who is eighth with 76 checkered flags. Harvick is tied for second with Busch on the active driver list as both are behind Jimmie Johnson, who has 83 victories.
On Aug. 23 at Dover, Harvick led the 15,000th lap of his NASCAR career. He is 11th all-time, now with 15,151 laps led, and trails 10th-place Busch, who has led 17,676, and Johnson, who is ninth with 18,936. Harvick has led 10,725 laps as an SHR driver, having reached the 10,000-laps-led milestone as an SHR driver when he took the lead on lap 37 on June 7 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
All those records are nice, but the No. 4 team is all about winning championships and it starts at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway this Sunday night. Harvick has two wins, three poles, 10 top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and has led a total of 750 laps in his 25 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington.
But the combination of Harvick competing at Darlington in SHR equipment is impressive. In his last eight Cup Series starts at the “Track Too Tough To Tame” – all of which have come with SHR – he has finished inside the top-10 at each, seven of which were top-fives, with two wins.
There are 10 races until the title is decided Nov. 8 at Phoenix International Raceway. And the road to the championship starts on Sunday.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Throwback Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
With the points margin that you have, particularly the bonus playoff points, would it be disappointing if you don’t make it to Phoenix to fight for the championship?
“Yeah, look, right now we’re one week at a time. Our goal is to really worry about what’s happening this week. We’re not even close to Phoenix. I think, for us, we want to be competitive week in and week out because the season is too long to not be competitive. Putting it all together at one race is tough to do, and I think as you look at going to Phoenix, we ran well there at the beginning of the year, but that’s a long way away at this particular point, and it would be silly for us to look that far ahead.”
In previous years, you made it to the Championship Four numerous times. Have you thought about what you can do differently to get that second championship, or are there so many circumstances that are out of your control?
“Yeah, there are a number of circumstances. Phoenix is a way better racetrack for us than Homestead was. We were able to put that together one year, but those low-grip, high-downforce racetracks for us – (like) Homestead – have just been a struggle to kind of hit on everything that we need to do to make our car run like it does everywhere else. I think it’s a better scenario for us, Phoenix, but like I say, it’s still a long way away.”
You’ve accomplished a lot of records this year. What does it mean to you to be on a list with some of the guys who are in the Hall of Fame?
“Well, I’ve been fortunate, especially over the last seven years, to drive really fast racecars and capitalize on the things we’ve been given. But when you start talking about those lists and the names of people who you’re around and passing, whether it’s laps led or race wins or whatever the category is, it’s just an honor to be on those lists and be around those guys. So hopefully we can keep it going.”