Notes of Interest
● When the green flag drops on Saturday night's Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500, Kevin Harvick will make his milestone 40th NASCAR Cup Series start at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The driver of the No. 4 Busch NA Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has the second-most starts at Martinsville among active Cup Series drivers (39). Kurt Busch leads the series with 41 Cup Series starts at the .526-mile oval. However, Busch and Harvick are Martinsville neophytes compared to NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven-time series champion Richard Petty who leads the series with 67 Cup Series starts at the track in a career that spans more than three decades (1959-1992).
● Harvick’s best Martinsville finish since joining SHR in 2014 is a pair of fifth-place finishes – Oct. 29, 2017 and March 20, 2018. That fifth-place drive in 2017 came in a No. 4 Busch NA Ford and, for the first time in four years, the Busch NA paint scheme is back on the No. 4 Ford. Busch NA is a fully-brewed, non-alcoholic beer using premium hops, barley malt, grain and water to produce a smooth, malty flavor.
● Harvick has five top-five results at Martinsville and has finished in the top-10 in half his starts at the paperclip-shaped track (19), but in his last two NASCAR Cup Series starts there, Harvick has finished 15th and 17th, respectively. If the Busch NA paint scheme can help deliver Harvick back to the top-five, he’ll take it. Speaking of delivery, Busch delivers. Get your Busch NA delivered right to your doorstep by visiting Busch.com/delivery.
● Harvick has tasted success in every type of car he has raced at Martinsville. He has a NASCAR Cup Series win, a NASCAR Xfinity Series win and three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins.
● Harvick’s lone NASCAR Cup Series victory at Martinsville came on April 3, 2011 when he beat Dale Earnhardt Jr., by .727 of a second. It was Harvick’s 20th Cup Series start at the track and his 16th career Cup Series victory. Harvick now has 58 career Cup Series wins and is alone at ninth on the all-time win list. Next on the all-time win list is NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt with 76 victories.
● Harvick is batting .1000 in the Xfinity Series at Martinsville. He earned the equivalent of a walk-off homer on July 22, 2006 when in his only Xfinity Series start at the track, he led three times for a race-high 149 laps to take the win by .271 of a second over Clint Bowyer.
● Harvick’s three Truck Series wins at Martinsville came in 17 starts. He won on March 30, 2009 (defeated Ron Hornaday Jr.), March 27, 2010 (defeated Hornaday again) and March 31, 2012 (defeated Ty Dillon).
● The Truck Series is where Harvick made his first start of any kind at Martinsville – Sept. 26, 1998 when he finished 25th. Harvick earned his first top-10 at Martinsville on April 17, 1999 in a Ford F-150 for team owner Jim Herrick.
● DYK? Harvick tested a Whelen Modified Tour car at Martinsville on Jan. 21, 2020. The Modified Tour is NASCAR’s oldest division and it is the only open-wheel series sanctioned by NASCAR. Compared to a NASCAR Cup Series car, a Tour car is 11 inches shorter in height and a little more than 23 inches wider. It also weighs nearly 800 pounds less. Harvick’s test came via Ryan Preece’s No. 6NY Tour car. Preece was the 2013 series champion and he earned the first of his 22 career Modified Tour victories at Martinsville on Sept. 20, 2008, leading 265 of the race’s 300 laps. Harvick and his company, KHI Management, represent Preece, who is now in his third full season competing in the Cup Series.
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch NA Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
The NASCAR Cup Series had a rare off-weekend prior to Martinsville. What do you typically do with those free moments of your time, or is there anything you’d like to do?
“I’m going to tell you what I want to do, but I’ve not been able to convince my wife of this. I want to load everybody up in a motorhome and take our own road trip as a family. I think the things we would learn and experience together would be way more entertaining than going on a trip with somebody we don’t know. For instance, when we go to Road America this year, we’re racing go-karts the week before we race the Cup car, and then we race go-karts again the week after at Road America. So, I’ve been trying to convince my wife that we should just get in the motorhome, drive it ourselves, go up there and go somewhere, and she said absolutely not, it would be a complete train wreck. But it could also be made for TV, so who knows?”
Martinsville is a throwback venue in that it’s a short track where we’ll race under the lights on a Saturday night – the kind of racing in which everyone starts their careers. Is that Martinsville’s niche?
“I think the short-track stuff is definitely meant to be run on Saturday nights under the lights. But at our level of racing, a lot more goes into it than just that. There’s the professional side of it in determining when we get the best TV ratings and when the most people are watching. And then from the show side of it, just seeing the brakes glow at night and seeing the sparks fly and all the stuff that comes with a night race on a short track is pretty neat.”
Martinsville can be a frustrating track. For instance, you’ve won there, you’ve finished in the top-10 in half your races there, but you’ve also left that place shaking your head. Describe what it is that makes Martinsville so maddening, but also so rewarding when you do have success?
“Look, I’ve done this a long time, and there’s really not going to be a racetrack that I go to that I don’t leave thinking that I could’ve done better. Martinsville is the one I leave thinking that probably more often than some of the others, but it’s going to be the exact same as any other racetrack when I get to Monday – it’s just going to be in the past and I’m not going to think about it. But I definitely would tell you it’s not a racetrack that I would say, ‘This is where I want to go.’ It’s just not been a place where I’ve had streaks of success. It’s been a racetrack where you just never know what’s going to happen. It’s just one of those places that’s been like that. I have no idea how we’ve won there, but we have. At KHI, it was one of our most successful racetracks in the Truck Series, and I was able to win an Xfinity race there back in ’06. We’ve won in all the divisions there. It’s just one of those places that’s frustrating. Even on a day when you do well, you just leave there with your wires crossed.”
If you make a mistake at Martinsville and it impacts someone else, how and when do you deal with it?
“You only have so much time, so you just have to deal with it after the race. The repercussions of doing something on purpose are usually pretty noticeable. You have to balance that, especially with guys who have been doing this for a long time.”
Where’s the best place to be at Martinsville to help avoid trouble on the racetrack?
“The best position to be in at any racetrack is in the lead. You want to be in control of the race and try to get yourself in a position to where you can have a good, clean restart and have as much clear track, especially at Martinsville. There is so much pushing and shoving on the restarts to get to the bottom lane that I want to have our Busch NA Ford Mustang as far forward as possible.”