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Busch Light #ForTheFarmers Racing: Kevin Harvick Kansas Advance

Thursday, Apr 29 1205

Notes of Interest

 

●  “What’s in a name?” That’s what Juliet said about Romeo in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and it’s what NASCAR fans are likely saying about the name of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas – the Buschy McBusch Race 400. Back in February, Busch Beer opened a fan contest to name the May 2 race at Kansas, allowing fans to submit their ideas in exchange for a $1 donation to Farm Rescue, a non-profit supporting family farmers across the United States. After the field was narrowed down to four finalists – The Busch Latte 400, Nectar Of The Cobs 400, For The Farmers 400 and Buschy McBusch Race 400 – a fan vote resulted in the race being named the Buschy McBusch Race 400. Shakespeare’s legacy lives on.

 

●  Busch Light, the beer brewed for America’s heartland and a longtime supporter of agricultural communities, has clad Harvick’s No. 4 Ford Mustang in a corn-themed, Farm Rescue paint scheme for Sunday’s race at Kansas. The design emulates Busch’s corn can, and purchasing a Busch or Busch Light corn can benefits Farm Rescue, with $1 of every purchase going back to the non-profit. Since its inception in 2005, Farm Rescue has helped nearly 700 family farms sustain operations in times of crisis. These efforts are made possible through a network of volunteers from across the United States. Busch has been a partner of Farm Rescue since early 2019.

 

●  Dorothy was right. There’s no place like home. And for Harvick, home is an intermediate racetrack. With apologies to those in Harvick’s hometown of Bakersfield, California, the veteran racer has made the intermediate tracks that comprise the majority of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule his home. Of Harvick’s 58 career NASCAR Cup Series wins, 23 have come at intermediate-style racetracks. Kansas is a sweeping, D-shaped oval that has produced high speeds and daring, side-by-side racing since its debut in 2001. Harvick has competed at the track for every one of its Cup Series races – one of only three drivers to do so – and has amassed quite the history in his 30 career starts. Three wins, four second-place finishes, nine top-threes, 10 top-fives, 17 top-10s and 949 laps led make Harvick one of the most successful drivers in Kansas’ relatively young history. His average start is 13.5, his average finish is 9.3 and he has a lap completion rate of 98.6 percent.

 

●  Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Kansas with three victories apiece. Only Harvick, Hamlin and Logano are still active, and only eight of the 15 Cup Series winners at Kansas are active. Sunday’s Buschy McBusch Race 400 marks the 31st Cup Series race at Kansas.

 

●  The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season has become the fourth different year in the Modern Era (1972-Present) with nine or more different winners in the first 10 races, joining 2003 (nine winners), 2000 (10 winners) and 1991 (nine winners). Will we see a 10th different winner Sunday at Kansas? There are eight former Cup Series winners entered in the Buschy McBusch Race 400 and five of them have yet to win this season – Harvick, Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman.

 

●  Bet the farm on Harvick? Since joining the NASCAR Cup Series in 2001, Harvick has won in the first 10 races of a season in 12 of his 21 seasons (57.1%). Last season through the first 10 races he had already won twice – Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway – and in 2018 through the first 10 races he had won three times – Atlanta, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway. But so far in 2021, Harvick is winless. However, with the trend of different race winners and with Kansas being one of Harvick’s best tracks statistically, perhaps it’s time for Harvick to be NASCAR’s newest victor. His three wins are tied for the series-most, his 10 top-fives are the most among active drivers, as are his 17 top-10s, and he leads every pre-race Loop Data category: Average Finish of 8.154 (series-best); Average Running Position of 8.691 (series-best): Driver Rating of 109.7 (series-best); 640 Fastest Laps Run (series-best); 5,613 Laps in the Top-15 (81.3 percent, series-most) and 997 Quality Passes (series-most).

 

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

 

Seven top-10s in the 10 races run this year – some drivers would love to have those stats, but after a nine-win season last year, top-10s are merely OK. From a competitive standpoint, where are you so far this season?

“Something I tell everybody year after year – whether we’ve had a good year or a bad year – you just never know what the next year is going to bring until you get on the racetrack. The things that people don’t see during the offseason are the things most people don’t see – whether NASCAR changes a little rule here, or Goodyear makes a little bit of a change to a tire there. Sometimes it suits you and sometimes it doesn’t. Last year, everything went our way. This year, it hasn’t really gone our way. Our Busch Light team has really done a great job of scratching and clawing for every position that you can get on the weekend. It’s bought us time week after week to get our cars back to where we want them to be. It’s not a position that we haven’t been in before. It’s definitely part of the sport and part of the things you have to do to keep yourself going – you sometimes digging yourself out of a hole and figuring things out. It’s a big science project, I can say that for sure. I think there are a lot of engineers on a lot of computers burning the midnight oil trying to make sure we start making some headway on getting our cars back to where we need them.”

 

What, exactly, are you dealing with when it comes to your racecars?

“We’re just a little bit off on the speed side of things. We just have to methodically work through the problems and get the cars back to where they need to be. It’s a long year. From our standpoint, we’ve been the dominant car, we’ve been the not-so-dominant car, we’ve been good, we’ve been bad, we’ve done it perfectly, and we’ve made mistakes. This is not a scenario that we’ve not been in before. You just have to make sure you dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s and make sure you get the most out of the weekends right now so you don’t dig yourself into a hole you can’t get out of during the first 26 weeks.”

 

When you don’t have the speed you want, do you have to drive differently?

“You have to get every single point you can get every single weekend just to make sure you don’t put yourself in a hole that you can’t get out of. The one weekend I kick myself in the butt for is Las Vegas because we should’ve finished eighth or ninth there and I wound up knocking both front fenders off. We’ve all been in this position before. Our season is so long that you really have to focus on making sure you’re in the right spot when you get to the end of race No. 26. We’ve been on both sides of this fence – we’ve been slow starters, we’ve been fast starters, we’ve run good all season – we’ve experienced it all. We definitely have to be in this particular mindset until we 100 percent get it fixed. I think everybody’s doing a great job of just making sure that we’re doing that right now. Getting the most out of each weekend is very important.”

 

When you don’t have the performance you want or are accustomed to, you’re scrutinized. How do you stay unaffected by that scrutiny?

“I respect the fact people outside our team have a job to do, but that doesn’t mean I have to pay attention to it or put any stock into what is said and what is not said. And, honestly, I don’t have time to worry about that stuff. It really doesn’t make any difference in the communication I have with my team, because that’s the most important thing right now – to make sure you pick out those details of every single weekend, to make sure you’re part of the process of putting the right pieces back in place. A lot of people have a tough time doing that, but I have no problem. It makes some people mad with the way we go about those types of things, but it’s the best thing for the team to be as low key as possible in these types of situations. We keep our heads down and work on fixing our problems, and that’s important.”

 

You mentioned it before – no matter how a season has started, you and the No. 4 Busch Light team have managed to be consistently good over the course of a season. How have you been able to do it year after year?

“That goes back a number of years just in how I was taught to race. When I started racing, whether it was go-karts or Late Models, if I wanted to go to the racetrack next week, you had to survive with something that was raceable. I learned that really fast my first year in Late Models. I think I only got to run seven races because I wrecked the car every time we went out on the racetrack and it took us a month to fix it because we couldn’t go out and just buy the parts and put it all together – we had to fix everything. That was something that was just ingrained in my head, not only from the time I started racing for my father, but the whole time I was at RCR (Richard Childress Racing). When you have a 15th-place car and you can finish 10th with it, that’s a victory. But don’t try to force it trying to make a 15th-place car a first-place car because then you try to wreck it. Being able to have that reality in your head and know that sometimes finishing 15th is way better than finishing 30th and having the car wadded up. Finishing races is very important, and knowing the capability of your car. In today’s world, not a lot of people realize that. When you can realize that and have a 15th-place car and finish ninth with it – which happens a lot because so many people just make so many mistakes – you can really capitalize on a weekend when you’re not really where you need to be from a performance standpoint.”

 

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