For the second straight season, Kevin Harvick heads to his home track, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, as the most recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner.
The driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) and current Sprint Cup point leader scored his first win of the 2016 campaign in dramatic fashion last Sunday in the Good Sam 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. He dominated the race by leading a race-high 139 laps, but a late caution set up an impressive overtime run that had him beating and banging all the way to the finish line, where he beat runner-up Carl Edwards to the line by .01 of a second for one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history.
But, it’s more than winning on the track last week that makes Harvick a hometown favorite.
The 2014 Sprint Cup champion grew up approximately 150 miles northwest of Auto Club Speedway in Bakersfield. While visiting his hometown last March, Harvick announced that his Kevin Harvick Foundation had partnered with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to remodel the gymnasium and outdoor playground at the Boys & Girls Club of Kern County.
Wednesday, Harvick and baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. cut the ribbon to unveil the Kevin Harvick Foundation Park at that Boys & Girls Club, which will provide a clean and safe environment in which local youth can play, learn and grow. The Bakersfield facility marks the second collaboration between the two organizations, which commenced their alliance by opening the Kevin Harvick Foundation Park in Greensboro, North Carolina, in November 2015.
Much like the Greensboro park, the state-of-the-art facility in Bakersfield is designed for multisport use, featuring four outdoor fitness stations, a rubber track surface circling the field’s perimeter, and a digital scoreboard. The park, a gift to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Kern County, will be maintained by the organization, with which the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and Kevin Harvick Foundation will collaborate to create and implement character education programming and clinics for the children who utilize the facility.
This is far from the first project that Harvick has completed in his hometown to help area youth.
After Harvick won the 2014 Sprint Cup championship, he planned an additional stop as part of his champion’s tour – a visit to Bakersfield. Harvick wanted to bring the Sprint Cup trophy to his high school, where he spoke to more than 2,000 kids in the school’s gymnasium and encouraged them to follow their dreams.
In fact, he regularly gives back to his hometown through donations from the Kevin Harvick Foundation. Donations have included funds to provide wrestling, baseball and golf equipment to the school in order to ensure that anyone who wants to participate can do so without worrying about paying for proper equipment.
Harvick hopes he can give his hometown fans another thing to cheer about on the track this weekend, as well. He will pilot the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race. Then, on Sunday, Harvick’s goal is to make it two Sprint Cup wins in a row by capturing the checkered flag in the Auto Club 400.