Notes of Interest
● The Verizon 200 at the Brickyard marks the debut of Unibet as a primary sponsor of driver Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 team of Stewart-Haas Racing. Unibet is a part of the Kindred Group, one of the top online gambling operators with business across Europe, the U.S. and Australia. The Unibet brand is building on its years of European experience in the responsible gambling and player sustainability field and extending that mindset to its U.S. operations, with motorsports being a key platform. Unibet will return to the No. 4 car as a primary partner Oct. 31 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
● Unibet is doubling down on Harvick at Indianapolis by also sponsoring him in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course. Harvick is making his third and final Xfinity Series start of 2021 and he will again drive for B.J. McLeod Motorsports in the No. 99 Unibet Ford Mustang. Of Harvick’s 348 career Xfinity Series starts, 13 have come on road courses. He has finished in the top-10 every time. In fact, his worst finish is merely a seventh-place drive at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International on Aug. 12, 2006, and in that race, Harvick still managed to lead 19 laps. He has 10 top-five finishes highlighted by two wins – Aug. 4, 2007 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal and Aug. 11, 2007 at Watkins Glen.
● The Verizon 200 at the Brickyard is the sixth of a ground-breaking seven Cup Series races to be held on road courses in 2021. From 1988 to 2017, there were only two road courses on the schedule – Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Watkins Glen. The Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval was added in 2018, giving the series just three road-course venues. The initial 2021 schedule doubled that tally with Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course all being added. And when COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of the series’ planned stop earlier this year at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, the road course at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway was put in its place, serving as the series’ second race of 2021.
● Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Unibet Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, has made a total of 47 NASCAR Cup Series starts on road courses. He has 20 starts at Sonoma, 20 at Watkins Glen, three at the Charlotte Roval, two on the Daytona road course, one at COTA and one at Road America. He has scored two wins – Watkins Glen in 2006 and Sonoma in 2017 – along with 10 top-fives and 24 top-10s with 195 laps led.
● When Harvick scored his first road-course victory at Watkins Glen in 2006, he had to beat his current team owner to do it. Tony Stewart – the “Stewart” in Stewart-Haas Racing – had won the past two NASCAR Cup Series races at the seven-turn, 2.45-mile road course and was poised to capture a third straight win as he was leading Harvick with four laps to go in the 90-lap race. But Harvick, who had already led once for 24 laps, passed Stewart on lap 87 as the two drag-raced down the frontstretch and into turn one. Harvick held onto the lead despite Stewart in his rearview mirror, earning a margin of victory of .892 of a second.
● Harvick’s second career road-course win also had a connection to Stewart. When Harvick won at Sonoma in 2017, he gave Stewart-Haas Racing its second straight victory at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course. The winner in 2016? None other than Stewart. It ended up being his 49th and final NASCAR Cup Series victory as Stewart retired from NASCAR racing at the conclusion of the season.
● Harvick’s last road-course win was his first in a Ford. When Harvick won at Sonoma in 2017, he became the 83rd different driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race behind the wheel of a Ford. Harvick has now won 23 Cup Series races with Ford, which makes him one of only 13 drivers to win 20 or more races with the manufacturer. He is currently tied with Rusty Wallace and Carl Edwards for 11th on the all-time Ford win list.
● Harvick has four road-course wins outside of the NASCAR Cup Series. Two came in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2007 and Watkins Glen in 2007 – and two were in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West – Sonoma in 1998 and Sonoma in 2017. Harvick’s K&N Series win at Sonoma in 1998 was three years before his Cup Series debut on Feb. 26, 2001 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham.