Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is heading to Dover (Del.) International Speedway for Sunday’s Citizen Soldier 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event as the most recent Sprint Cup race winner and the defending race winner.
Harvick locked himself into the Round of 12 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs with a late-race charge to win the Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon last Sunday. He started 19th and led the final six laps of the race to beat runner-up Matt Kenseth by .442 of a second to the finish line. It was his third win of the 2016 season and the 34th win in his Sprint Cup career.
In October 2015, Harvick came to Dover ranked 15th in points and trailing Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 23 points for the final transfer position into the Round of 12. A solid finish at the Monster Mile wouldn’t do – he needed a win to advance. With everything on the line, he delivered the most dominant race of his Sprint Cup career. He started 15th after rain cancelled qualifying Friday afternoon, but he quickly raced his way to the front and led 355 of 400 laps to beat runner-up Kyle Busch to the finish line by 2.639 seconds.
According to NASCAR Stats and Information, he registered a 149.7 driver rating out of a possible 150.0, narrowly missing his fourth perfect driver rating in a Sprint Cup race. He previously registered perfect 150.0 driver ratings at Phoenix International Raceway on three occasions – November 2006 and 2014, and March 2015.
The 2014 Sprint Cup champion has been fast at Dover since joining SHR at the beginning of 2014, scoring one win, one pole and two top-five finishes. What is more impressive is that he has led 810 of 2,005 laps in five races there – 40.4 percent of the total laps raced since the beginning of 2014.
However, luck has not always been on the side of the No. 4 team at Dover.
In June 2014, Harvick started eighth, led 24 laps, but finished 17th as the first car one lap down after he had a valve stem issue during a pit stop that caused a tire to go down on the following restart.
He won the pole at Dover in September 2014, when he turned a lap of 22.095 seconds at162.933 mph in the second round of qualifying. On race day, he stayed at the front of the field for 223 laps but had to settle for a 13th-place finish after another valve stem issue led to a flat tire following a pit stop and caused him to fall a lap down to the leaders.
Harvick started from the pole after qualifying was rained out in May 2016. He led 117 laps early in the race before he was caught in an 18-car accident and finished one lap down in 15th.
While Harvick is already locked into the Round of 12 in the Chase, he would still like to claim a second straight win and build momentum into the next round.