Notes of Interest
● As a 21-year veteran of the NASCAR Cup Series with 58 career wins, Kevin Harvick has a lot of good racetracks. New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon is one of them. The driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has made 37 starts at the 1.058-mile oval and won four times – tied with retired driver Jeff Burton for the most all-time. And when he hasn’t ended his race in victory lane, Harvick has been well within the vicinity. He has 13 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes, both of which lead the series.
● Who is even close to Harvick at New Hampshire? There are four active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with three wins – Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman – but only Harvick has four victories. When it comes to top-fives, Harvick is in a class of his own with 13. Next best are Kyle Busch and Hamlin with 11 top-fives apiece. It’s a bit closer on the top-10 front, with Newman just behind Harvick with 20 top-10s.
● While Harvick has always been good at New Hampshire, his performance at the track took a dramatic turn upward when he joined SHR in 2014. In the 11 races contested at New Hampshire since wheeling the No. 4 car for SHR, Harvick has scored three wins and has only three finishes outside of the top-five. And of his 765 career laps led at New Hampshire, 446 have come in the last 10 races (58.3 percent).
● The “Stewart” in Stewart-Haas Racing is Tony Stewart, and he has a pretty good track record at New Hampshire, too. The 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee won three races in 35 starts and logged 15 top-fives and 19 top-10s with 1,302 laps led. The only driver with more laps led at New Hampshire is fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon with 1,373 laps led.
● Harvick has proven quick at New Hampshire outside of the NASCAR Cup Series. In 12 career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track, he has a win (June 2007) to go with nine top-fives and 11 top-10s with 677 laps led. And in six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, Harvick has three top-three finishes and five top-10s. His worst result was merely a 15th-place drive back in August 1999.
● All of these statistics and anecdotes make Harvick the apple of one’s eye at New Hampshire, which is fitting since the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion will race the No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang in Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301. Busch Light Apple is a crisp, refreshing, apple-flavored lager with a touch of sweet on the front end and a clear, beer finish on the back end. It is available for a limited time only in 12-, 24- and 30-packs at a store near you.
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang
Phoenix Raceway is your best track, statistically, but New Hampshire isn’t far off from your results at Phoenix. Four career wins and eight top-fives in the last 10 races is proof of that. Are there similarities between Phoenix and New Hampshire?
“Flat tracks have always been really good for me in my career. When you look at SHR and the things we’ve been able to accomplish at Loudon and Phoenix, they’ve kind of followed that same trend. A lot of that goes back to that open test time we had at Milwaukee and Nashville. Those are the places where we would practice and practice and practice. Our guys have done a great job of having a good short-track, flat-track program, and Loudon is a place that has followed along with Phoenix and the success that we’ve had there and to be able to capitalize on that success and continue it at another track.”
You’ve won three of the last six races at New Hampshire and you’re tied with Jeff Burton for the most victories at the track with four. What makes you so good there? Experience? Confidence? A combination of both?
“New Hampshire has been really good to us, and I think Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and I probably feel like we should have – could have – won them all. But it’s been a racetrack that has been really good for us from a performance standpoint. And from a confidence standpoint, being able to adjust on the car and know what we’re looking for, I think this is definitely a racetrack where a lot of those things came into play, and we used a lot of the same things that we’ve used in the past as far as tools of how we make our car go around the corner. It’s been a great racetrack for us.”
How do you need to drive New Hampshire, as it seems to be a bit of a strategic race?
“It all depends on how they lay the PJ1 down, now. You kind of have to chase that PJ1 and keep the car straight, high entry, straight exits, and you kind of have to chase that groove as it moves throughout the race. It’s much different the last couple of years than it had been the previous years before that because of that element with the PJ1.”
You get a giant lobster for winning at New Hampshire. Other than scaring your kids with it in victory lane, what do you do with it?
“My lobster, they mounted on a board. It sat in a closet and his claws fell off and some of his arms and legs fell off, so we took the lobster off the board and we used the board for a skateboard ramp. That was what happened to my first lobster because he just fell apart and we used the board for Keelan’s skateboard ramp.”
You’re a big proponent of grassroots racing, and grassroots racing is big in New England. What’s your take on the racing scene in New England?
“I learned that back in 2009 when we ran the Oxford 250. We spent a week up there practicing and racing, and I think 110 cars showed up for the Oxford 250 and we were fortunate to win that race. You open up every newspaper in the region the next morning and it was about the Oxford 250. From that very day forward, the same guys that I raced with will come to the garage and say, ‘Hi,’ and talk about that particular weekend, and you hear fans talk about being at that particular race. Really, the Oxford 250 had kind of given me a little bit of a leg up on everybody because I was able to interact with those fans on a regional basis and be able to have that stick with me for a long time. I haven’t been able to go back and do that event again, but having that experience up there allowed me to connect and realize how big racing was in the Northeast.”