We’re on to the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), knows what he has to do.
Win and he’s in – the Championship 4.
Harvick has a 45-point lead over the final four cutoff, but in 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2019, he won a Round of 8 race to automatically advance his team to the winner-take-all season finale.
And in an election year like 2020, maybe he could find victory the way our past United States Presidents have done – traveling by train, or specifically on the Ferdinand Magellan train car. That’s because, pre-airplanes, that’s how folks traveled. The Ferdinand Magellan was used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1940s and 1950s. Ronald Reagan took it out of storage in 1984 for a trip though Ohio.
Harvick could start out at the train station in downtown Charlotte and ride the Ferdinand Magellan north on the Crescent Line to Charlottesville, Virginia, then switch to the Cardinal Route, which would take him through Cincinnati, Indianapolis and then to Union Station in Chicago. From there, he would switch to the Southwest Chief and hit Kansas City Union Station in preparation for this weekend’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
After Kansas, he could take the Missouri River Runner to Gateway Station in St. Louis, and then the Texas Eagle into Fort Worth Central Station for the 500-mile race at Texas Motor Speedway. After a brief stop in Fort Worth, he would continue on the Texas Eagle to San Antonio and then pick up the Sunset Limited to New Orleans, where the Crescent Line would then take him to Danville, Virginia, which is a short drive to Martinsville for the final race of the Round of 8.
With all that travel, let’s hope he has a Jimmy John’s sandwich or two to snack on.
Harvick enters Sunday’s race at Kansas with five poles, three wins, three second-place finishes, eight top-threes, 16 top-10s and has led a total of 864 laps in his 29 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at the 1.5-mile oval. He’s one of only three drivers who have participated in all 29 Cup Series races held there. The others are Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman.
Harvick is hoping the Round of 8 starts well – and gets him closer to the Championship 4.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Thoughts on advancing from the Round of 12 to the Round of 8?
“This wasn’t a great round for us, so we definitely need to do better. We need to display that our cars are fast and do a good job on pit road and do the things we did all year. Definitely two good racetracks coming up for us with Kansas and Texas and hopefully we can get a win at one of those two racetracks and go on with it.”
Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and you are the only drivers to start all 29 races at Kansas Speedway. You’ve been racing there since 2001. Can you talk about the track as it approaches its 20-year anniversary?
“It makes you feel old (laughs). I did one of the first PR days at Kansas Speedway when it first opened and there was not one single thing around that racetrack other than the highway. So, what’s been built has been neat to see and how it’s all developed and how it’s all changed. It’s a fun racetrack because there is just so much to do around the racetrack and it’s been a successful racetrack for us.”
Why have you been so successful there recently?
“I don’t really know. It’s a racetrack where I’ve won a couple races and, for whatever reason, it just kind of fits my style and what we do with the cars. We’ve had a lot of good racecars there to capitalize on the good characteristics that fall into my driving style and we’ve been able to have some good results with it.”
Take us on a lap around Kansas.
“It’s definitely a little bit different just for the fact the (corner) entries are a little different than at most places. Turns three and four remind me of turns three and four at Chicagoland Speedway, but there’s a lot more grip and fresher asphalt than what Chicagoland has nowadays. It’s a very high-speed racetrack. You run the middle to the bottom of the racetrack. But I’m sure, as time goes on, that the groove will move back up. But, for right now, it’s very fast and very sensitive to your line and, with all the speed and how tricky the entrance is into turn one, you can miss your line easily. So, you have to be very specific about where you put your car and pay attention to what you’re doing.”