Busch Light Racing: Kevin Harvick New Hampshire Advance

Notes of Interest

 

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●  As a 23-year veteran of the NASCAR Cup Series with 60 career wins, Kevin Harvick has a lot of good racetracks. New Hampshire Motor Speedway is one of them. The driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has made 39 starts at the 1.058-mile oval and won four times – tied with retired driver Jeff Burton for the most all-time. And when he hasn’t ended his race in victory lane, Harvick has been well within the vicinity. He has 14 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes, both of which lead the series among active Cup Series drivers.

 

●  Harvick has won two of the last five races at New Hampshire (2018 and 2019) and in his last nine starts at “The Magic Mile,” he only has one finish outside the top-six. Harvick finished fifth last year at New Hampshire and he comes into this year’s Crayon 301 looking to score his sixth straight top-10.

 

●  Who is even close to Harvick at New Hampshire? There are just two active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with three wins – Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin – but only Harvick has four victories. When it comes to top-fives, Harvick is in a class of his own with 14. Next best are Kyle Busch and Hamlin with 11 top-fives apiece. And it’s the same with top-10s. The only driver close to Harvick in this category is Hamlin, who has 18 top-10s.

 

●  Harvick has proven quick at New Hampshire outside of the NASCAR Cup Series. In 12 career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track, he has a win (June 2007) to go with nine top-fives and 11 top-10s with 677 laps led. And in six NASCAR Truck Series starts, Harvick has three top-three finishes and five top-10s. His worst result was merely a 15th-place drive back in August 1999.

 

●  While Harvick has always been good at New Hampshire, his performance at the track took a dramatic turn upward when he joined SHR in 2014 and paired with crew chief Rodney Childers. In the 13 races contested at New Hampshire since wheeling the No. 4 car for SHR, Harvick has scored three wins and has only four finishes outside of the top-five. And of his 831 career laps led at New Hampshire, 512 have come in the last 12 races (46.5 percent).

 

●  The Harvick/Childers duo is the longest active-tenured driver/crew chief relationship in the NASCAR Cup Series garage. They joined forces in 2014 and promptly won the Cup Series championship. In their now decade-long partnership, Harvick and Childers have won 37 points-paying Cup Series races and qualified for the NASCAR Playoffs every year, advancing to the Championship 4 five times.

 

●  Before scoring three wins with Harvick at New Hampshire, Childers won at the track with driver Brian Vickers. In July 2013, Childers guided Vickers to the driver’s third and final NASCAR Cup Series victory by out-fueling Tony Stewart – the “Stewart” in Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart had led a total of 84 laps and was in second place behind Vickers on the final lap of a green-white-checkered finish. But Stewart’s car sputtered off turn two. Out of gas, he was forced to coast all the way down the backstretch and through turns three and four of the 1.058-mile oval. As Vickers and Childers celebrated their win, Stewart rolled down pit road where he crossed the finish line a gut-wrenching 26th.

 

●  Stewart earned a pretty good track record at New Hampshire during his career. The 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee won three races in 35 starts and logged 15 top-fives and 19 top-10s with 1,302 laps led. The only driver with more laps led at New Hampshire is fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon with 1,373 laps led.

 

Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang 

 

Phoenix Raceway is your best track, statistically, but New Hampshire isn’t far off from your results at Phoenix. Four career wins and nine top-fives in the last 12 races is proof of that. Are there similarities between Phoenix and New Hampshire?

“Flat tracks have always been really good for me in my career. When you look at SHR and the things we’ve been able to accomplish at Loudon and Phoenix, they’ve kind of followed that same trend. A lot of that goes back to that open test time we had at Milwaukee and Nashville. Those are the places where we would practice and practice and practice. Our guys have done a great job of having a good short-track, flat-track program, and Loudon is a place that has followed along with Phoenix and the success that we’ve had there and to be able to capitalize on that success and continue it at another track.”

 

New Hampshire always seems to be a race that is circled on your calendar. Is it even more so this year because of how you’ve run at Phoenix (fifth) and Richmond (fifth) – tracks that have some similar characteristics to New Hampshire?

“It’s definitely a racetrack that we’re looking forward to going to, and I can’t wait to finally, hopefully, get to victory lane. After Nashville, having the fastest car and having a tire go flat, and Phoenix and a couple of the other places where it just seems like it all hasn’t come together, we’re ready to finish off a weekend with a win. My guys are doing a great job of putting fast cars on the racetrack and Loudon is one of those places that checks a lot of boxes for us to go up there and have a good weekend.”

 

Is horsepower less of an issue at New Hampshire because it’s relatively flat and only a mile in length, or do you need to really be able to pull off the corner and down the straightaway to make a fast lap? Or is a fast lap more about getting through each corner well?

“For us, a lot of that depends on the tire falloff and where things go from the handling of the car and what the pace is. You definitely still have to have good power, it just comes in a different range.”

 

You get a giant lobster for winning at New Hampshire. Other than scaring your kids with it in victory lane, what do you do with it?

“My lobster, they mounted on a board. It sat in a closet and his claws fell off and some of his arms and legs fell off, so we took the lobster off the board and we used the board for a skateboard ramp. That was what happened to my first lobster because he just fell apart and we used the board for Keelan’s skateboard ramp.”

 

You’re a big proponent of grassroots racing, and grassroots racing is big in New England. What’s your take on the racing scene in New England?

“I learned that back in 2009 when we ran the Oxford 250. We spent a week up there practicing and racing, and I think 110 cars showed up for the Oxford 250 and we were fortunate to win that race. You open up every newspaper in the region the next morning and it was about the Oxford 250. From that very day forward, the same guys that I raced with will come to the garage and say, ‘Hi,’ and talk about that particular weekend, and you hear fans talk about being at that particular race. Really, the Oxford 250 had kind of given me a little bit of a leg up on everybody because I was able to interact with those fans on a regional basis and be able to have that stick with me for a long time. I haven’t been able to go back and do that event again, but having that experience up there allowed me to connect and realize how big racing was in the Northeast.”

 

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