Kevin Harvick heads to the Go Bowling 235 NASCAR Cup Series race on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course with just 1.25 tracks left to conquer on the NASCAR schedule.
How is this possible?
After his victory June 27 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, the first of his career at the track, Harvick finished fourth at Kentucky, where he still hasn’t seen victory lane. He also hasn’t won on the “roval” at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, which first appeared on the schedule in 2018.
Harvick did win the 2011 and 2013 Coca-Cola 600 and the 500-mile fall race in 2014 on the Charlotte oval.
Then NASCAR added the Daytona road course to the 2020 schedule and that portion of the track has never hosted a NASCAR race. But Harvick is victorious on the Daytona oval, having won the 2007 Daytona 500 and the 2010 Coke Zero 400.
So why the number 1.25? No reason, but the only facility where Harvick has never won a Cup race is Kentucky. So the .25 represents the two road courses within their respective ovals at Daytona and Charlotte.
Harvick has started just one race on the Daytona road course – the February 2002 edition of the Rolex 24-hour endurance race. He was part of a four-driver team with Rick Carelli, John Metcalf and Davy Lee Liniger. Harvick qualified the car second in class and drove early in the race, but after a driver change, the engine expired just 123 laps into the race and the team finished 69th overall and eighth in the American Grand Touring (AGT) class.
Tony Stewart, Harvick’s current boss, also drove in that race.
Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Busch Beer National Forest Foundation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) Sunday at Daytona. He’ll have the support of the National Forest Foundation, as well.
The National Forest Foundation is the leading organization inspiring personal and meaningful connections to America’s National Forests, the centerpiece of the country’s public lands.
Working on behalf of the American public, the foundation leads forest conservation efforts and promotes responsible recreation. The organization operates under the belief that these lands, and all they provide, are an American treasure and are vital to the health of communities nationwide.
Harvick had the National Forest Foundation on his car last year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon when he started 14th and finished first. He’s hoping to do the same this year on the Daytona road course. Busch Beer will also donate $1,000 for every lap Harvick leads this weekend, up to $30,000.
It’s been more than 18 years since Harvick raced the road course at Daytona. But he’s proven he can win anywhere and is looking for career victory number 56, which would tie him with Kyle Busch for ninth on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer / National Forest Foundation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your thoughts on the Daytona road-course race?
“I think it will be fun. As you look at the events that we have and those unique events – I’ve been talking about that for years and I think this will be one of them. The Daytona road course is very historic and it’s a little bit different (for us) with the chicane on the front straightaway. I started working on it this week. We’re week-to-week people. I’ll turn my iRacing simulator on for the first time since I ‘left’ North Wilkesboro (May 9) and figure out where the hell I’m going, and then I’ll go to the real simulator on Wednesday and figure out how to drive. It will be interesting because of the fact we have no practice. But that’s what we need. We need more unique events.”
You scored your ninth consecutive top-five finish Sunday and sixth win of 2020. Have you ever been in a zone like this before?
“Look, we’ve had some great years. I wouldn’t call this our best. I think 2015 and 2018 were great years. We closed 2014 really good. It’s hard to tell what the end of the year is going to bring as far as this could be the last win, or you might win six more. You just never know. I think the most important thing is to stay focused on the week-to-week attitude of trying to prepare the best that you can. Win or lose last week, on Monday you have to be preparing for the next week. It’s ultra-important to have a short-term memory. I think our team does a really good job with that, making sure we’re prepared for the next race the best that we can. You take all you can out of that on Monday morning, then move on to the next one.”
Where does this season rank for you in how consistent you’ve been? Win number six in the regular season, what makes this season unique?
“Well, I think COVID makes it unique, first off, just the circumstances that it takes to get to the racetrack. I think a lot of that just goes into how prepared our team is and the details that they’re covering to get the cars right, get them close, come to the racetrack, watch the pit crew perform, watch Rodney (Childers, crew chief) make great calls. I get to race the car on the racetrack and do the best that I can. On the days when things aren’t going like we want them to with the handling in the racecar, we figure out a way to have some good pit strategy or restarts. They have a great pit stop on pit road. When one side is down, there’s somebody there to pick up the pieces on the other side. That’s what it takes to run well week in and week out. In the circumstances we’re in, you’re just not going to hit it every week. You’re going to have to battle through it, try to have the best day that you can. As far as where it ranks, it’s really hard. I don’t think about things like that. I just go week to week. As you get to the end of the season, you can kind of sit back and really look back on the things that have happened. That’s the same thing that we’ll do this year. But it’s been a great year, can’t argue with that.”
You should be on the pole for the road course at the Daytona based on the new way NASCAR is generating the starting lineup via previous finish, fastest lap and points positon. What does it mean, now, that you’re kind of earning your starting position?
“Yeah, I’m a little bit torn on that. That wasn’t my vote. I voted for one through 36 random draw every week for charter teams. I think it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Obviously, I think there’s definitely some merit to it as far as earning your position in the things that you do. I think, in the position we’re in, there’s also some merit in keeping it mixed up, keeping it fair, having some new players at the front, giving them an opportunity. At some point during the year, some of those guys are going to qualify well and have a chance to have a good weekend. If you’re back in the mid part of the pack, you don’t have an opportunity to qualify, sometimes those are taken away. It will be interesting. I’m good with whatever. I think me leading everybody into turn one at Daytona could be interesting because I have no freaking clue where I’m going as we go down there. Most everybody in the field is the same way. We’ll prepare the best we can and hope we can make it around the first lap with all the wheels still headed in the right direction.”