In 1998, some 21 years ago, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick competed at the now-closed Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Florida.
Harvick, driver of the No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Truck for Wayne Spears Racing, started 16th and finished 18th in the first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series event on the 1998 schedule, which was conducted Sunday, Jan. 18. Six days later, on Saturday, Jan. 24, Tony Stewart started first, led 132 of 200 laps and won the IndyCar race driving the No. 2 Glidden/Menards G-Force Oldsmobile for Team Menard.
Even Tony Raines, who now spots for Harvick’s teammate Daniel Suarez, was in the 1998 Truck Series race at Disney and finished two spots ahead of Harvick.
Who could have ever believed that, 21 years later, all three would be working, and succeeding, at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). As it is stated on that lovely ride at Walt Disney World, “It’s a small world, after all.”
Stewart, along with his partner Gene Haas, will be in the owner role this week, Raines will be spotting for Suarez, and Harvick will be driving the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang for SHR as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
Harvick has had plenty of success at the concrete mile oval as he has two wins, one pole, six top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and has led 1,442 laps.
He scored his first Dover win in October 2015, when he started 15th, led 355 of 400 laps and beat runner-up Kyle Busch by 2.639 seconds. Harvick then earned his first Cup Series pole at Dover in September 2014 with a time of 22.095 at 162.095 mph. He scored his second Dover win a year ago this weekend, when he started second, led 201 of 400 laps and finished 7.450 seconds ahead of SHR teammate Clint Bowyer.
Harvick is hoping he can score another victory this week as he has come a long way since racing at Walt Disney World 21 years ago. And so has Jimmy John’s. In 1994, there were 10 sub shops but, by 2002, the company had grown to 160 and, in 2019, Jimmy John’s has more than 2,800 locations across 43 states.
It’s fitting that, also in 1998, Fatboy Slim released one of his best albums, “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby,” because Harvick, Stewart, Raines and Jimmy John’s certainly have.