Tuesday, Feb. 9: Busch Clash (non-points exhibition race on 14-turn, 3.61-mile road course)
● Time/TV/Radio: 7 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Wednesday, Feb. 10: Daytona 500 qualifying (single-lap qualifying to determine pole for the Daytona 500)
● Time/TV/Radio: 7 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Thursday, Feb. 11: Duel at Daytona (twin 150-mile qualifying races that set the field for the Daytona 500)
● Time/TV/Radio: 7 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Sunday, Feb. 14: 63rd annual Daytona 500 (first of 36 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series races in 2021)
● Time/TV/Radio: 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● #TheCrew is more than just a hashtag. It’s a job – and a cool and refreshing one at that. Busch beer has created a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a lucky fan to join the No. 4 Busch Light team as an actual member of Kevin Harvick’s crew. The official position is the Busch Crewmaster, a full-time position within Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) that pays $50,000 for the 2021 season where the new team member will be responsible for crucial tasks for the race team. Fans are able to apply for the position in a way that has never been done before – by tuning into the Daytona 500 on Feb. 14 for the first-ever live job interview via a NASCAR race. The questions will be asked live during the FOX broadcast and on Busch’s Twitter page. Fans will need to flex their knowledge in order to get through to the next round and possibly get hired for the position. Fans will also need to think fast during the Daytona 500 because their answers could lead them to the next round of the interview process and one step closer to the title of Busch Crewmaster. The new role is inspired by The Crew, a new Netflix show starring Kevin James as the crew chief of a fictitious NASCAR team, but Busch is giving you the chance to be a real Crewmaster with Harvick and SHR. The Crew debuts Feb. 15 on Netflix the day after the Daytona 500. Through the partnership, Busch and Netflix look to highlight the importance of the people behind the wall in driving success on the track. To learn more about the Busch Beer Crewmaster position, follow @Buschbeer #TheCrew or visit busch.com/join-the-crew to see the full Busch Crewmaster role.
● The 63rd running of the Daytona 500 Feb. 14 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway marks a milestone in Kevin Harvick’s career. It will be his 20th career start in The Great American Race, with his first Daytona 500 coming on Feb. 17, 2002. He started second in that race and finished 36th after getting collected in a multicar accident on lap 150.
● Five years and one day after his Daytona 500 debut, Harvick won the 2017 Daytona 500. He edged NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin for the victory by .02 of a second in a frantic green-white-checkered finish. It is the second closest finish in Daytona 500 history, trailing only Denny Hamlin’s .01-of-a-second advantage over Martin Truex Jr., in 2016.
● To earn a spot in the Daytona 500, drivers must first compete in the Duel – twin 150-mile qualifying races that set the 40-car field for the Daytona 500. Harvick has won his Duel race twice (2013 and 2019). He is currently on a run of five straight top-five finishes in the Duel, and he has finished among the top-10 in 11 of his last 13 Duel races, including the past six (2015 to present).
● Before drivers compete in the Duel, they race the clock in single-lap qualifying. The two fastest cars are locked into the field while the rest of the drivers are split into the Duel. Odd-numbered drivers are in the first Duel and even-numbered drivers are in the second Duel. Harvick has never started on the pole for the Daytona 500, but he did take the outside pole once – 2002 in his first Daytona 500. Harvick lapped the 2.5-mile oval in 48.447 seconds at 185.770 mph, just .016 of a second off the pole-winning time of Jimmie Johnson.
● For a select group of drivers – 24 to be exact – a non-points exhibition race around the Daytona road course kicks off their week at Daytona. The Busch Clash is comprised of Busch Pole winners from last season, past Busch Clash winners who competed full-time in 2020, Daytona 500 winners who competed fulltime in 2020, former Daytona 500 Busch Pole winners who competed full-time in 2020, as well as any NASCAR Cup Series drivers who made the playoffs in 2020, won a race in 2020 or won a stage in 2020. Harvick checks all of these boxes. In fact, he is a three-time winner of the Busch Clash (2009, 2010 and 2013). However, all of those wins came on Daytona’s 2.5-mile oval. This is the first Busch Clash on the 14-turn, 3.61-mile road course.
● The Busch Clash will mark Harvick’s second NASCAR Cup Series race on the Daytona road course, but his third overall. The Cup Series raced on the Daytona road course for the first time last August. Harvick started from the pole and ran among the top-10 until two separate spins in the final stage relegated him to a 17th-place finish. Prior to that race, Harvick’s lone appearance on the Daytona road course came in 2002 during the Rolex 24 at Daytona sports-car race. Harvick co-drove the No. 90 Flis Motorsports entry in the American Grand Touring (AGT) class alongside Davy Lee Liniger, Rick Carelli and John Metcalf. Harvick qualified the car and drove early in the race, but the engine expired after just 123 of the race’s 716 laps. The team finished eighth in class and 69th overall.
● The 2021 season marks Harvick’s 21st year in the NASCAR Cup Series. He has 718 career, point-paying starts, with 39 of them coming on Daytona’s 2.5-mile oval. In addition to his 2017 Daytona 500 victory, Harvick won the 2010 Coke Zero 400. He has 10 top-fives and 15 top-10s on the Daytona oval. The 63rd Daytona 500 will be his 40th point-paying start on the Daytona oval.
● Outside of the NASCAR Cup Series, Harvick has made 19 career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Daytona and three IROC starts. Of Harvick’s 47 Xfinity Series wins, only one is at Daytona – the 2007 season opener. And Harvick’s best IROC finish at Daytona is seventh, earned twice (2003 and 2004). Harvick is a two-time Xfinity Series champion (2001 and 2006) and the 2002 IROC champion.
● Not long after the 2020 season ended, Harvick was back at Daytona, but not as a driver. Instead, Harvick was there Dec. 27-30 in the role of car owner for his eight-year-old son Keelan, who competed on the nine-turn, .7-mile layout in the infield of Daytona’s oval during Daytona Kart Week. Keelan won his first race last July at GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina, and is now a karting regular competing in three different divisions – Micro ROK, Micro Swift and Briggs Cadet.
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light #TheCrew Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
Busch Beer is going to pay for one lucky fan to be a member of your team. When you were starting out in racing, what were some of your first jobs on a race team?
“When I went to work for Wayne and Connie Spears on their Truck Series team, I went there just as a mechanic. I was just a very general mechanic that would basically pull things together and take engines in and out. And then when I drove for Wayne and Connie, I had the luxury of working in the engine shop, where I spent most of my time underneath the bench sleeping during the day, and I had a great colleague, Bill, who allowed me to sleep. So I don’t know if I was very much help in the engine shop, but I was very much a general mechanic who swept the floor.”
You start the season on a road course via the Busch Clash. Considering that there are now seven road courses on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, with the first point-paying one coming on the Daytona road course a week after the 500, how helpful is to have that knowledge and experience from the Busch Clash so early in the season?
“We ran poorly there last year, so it’s definitely been on our radar to get to the Busch Clash just because we have a number of things we want to incorporate into our car. To be able to have those reps and kind of do a quality control check on where you’re at with your racecar gives you a lot going into week two of the season to make sure you’re competitive and where you need to be.”
You’re coming off a career-best nine win season in 2020. With a year like that, how much are you able to carry over into this season? Or do you come into this year with a clean slate, not only because everyone starts with the same amount of points, but also because of how quickly technology advances?
“You’ve got to start over just because of the fact you just never know how things are going to shake out, how your cars are going to run, and the decisions you’re going to make. You just have to start over and forget everything that you’ve done, and I think that’s one thing we do really well as a team. Whether it’s a really good week or a really bad week, or a good season or a bad season, we’re really good at just forgetting about whatever it is that happened and making sure that we’re focused on the things we need to be focused on for that particular week.”
Even without a championship, was last year’s nine-win season comparable to your five-win championship season in 2014?
“As a group, we want to win. I would rather win races than win a championship at this point. In order to keep the attitude and enthusiasm where it needs to be, we need to be competitive week in and week out. If it works out in a championship at the end of the year, ultimately that’s the goal, but the immediate goal when you start the season is how competitive are we from week one to week 36, and how do we put ourselves in a position to win as many races as possible. If you do that, you’re going to have a chance to win races, and not only win, you’re going to have a chance to make the playoffs, progress through the playoffs, and win the championship. With the playoff format, it really just is what it is. You go, you race, and you see where it falls. For us as a team, it’s more important for us to be competitive week in and week out. Win as many races as we can and see where that takes us in the end.”
You’re often asked about your strategy in a superspeedway race. But what strategy is there for the entire week of Daytona, where you want to show speed, but also keep a clean car through practice, qualifying, the Duel and then, finally, the Daytona 500?
“I think as you go through the week, it’s that evolution of the enthusiasm ramping up as you get closer to the Daytona 500. You have to maintain a pretty even-keeled approach to things just because of the fact that you don’t want to be so jacked up and make a stupid move and tear up your car before you even get to the Daytona 500. But you also want to get everything that you can because you want to get the best starting position you can and the best pit selection that you can for the 500. It’s a different mentality than any other week because you race and practice and race and practice and race again. But it’s not just a race. It’s the Daytona 500. So, it’s a different type of enthusiasm headed for the green flag for the 500.”
You won nine races as a 44-year-old. Now you’re ready for another season at age 45. When everyone seems to be talking about who’s next, you’re constantly reminding people that, “Hey, I’m still here,” by knocking down wins. What do you credit it to? Certainly there’s innate ability, but how have you been able to sustain it at such a high level for so long?
“I think a lot of that is evolving with the times, having an open mind to be able to change. The biggest piece of the equation is having fast racecars and keeping those guys motivated to work on every last detail on that racecar – that matters as much as anything that you do. I think the evolution of the driver and keeping yourself fit and keeping that circle of life balance in order to be able to keep everything good at home, do the things you have to do outside the racecar, do the things you need to do inside the racecar, and also evolve with the times and put your butt in the simulator and get something out of it. Do the things it takes to evolve with all those progressions of technology and racecars and all the things that come with that. You have to be open-minded, and I think that’s something we do well in making sure we’re not stuck in our ways and getting left behind.”
Your eight-year-old son, Keelan, is just starting his racing career. With almost four decades of racing under your belt, what kind of guidance do you give him, both in terms of racing and preparing to race?
“My expectations of him are exactly the same expectations I have of myself leading up to a race. But while you’re there on a race weekend, some people think that’s a little bit overboard, including Mom, but for me that’s just the way you’re going to have to be. And I always ask him, ‘Do you want to be good, or do you want to be great? We can teach you how to be either. One’s considerably easier than the other, but not nearly as rewarding.’ So he has learned that what you put in is rewarded by what you get out of it in the results. The faster you can put that effort in and understand that everything matters in the preparation and the things you do leading up to that will ultimately give you better results.”