Notes of Interest
● Kevin Harvick has a stout track record at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, especially in his time since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2014. In his last 13 NASCAR Cup Series races at the 1.5-mile oval – all of which have come with SHR – Harvick has only one finish outside of the top-10. That lone result came in last year’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 when Harvick finished 16th after his No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang slipped off turn two while leading and brushed the outside wall as a heavy mist made the track slick. In the 12 races prior, Harvick scored nine top-fives, three of which were wins while three others were second-place results.
● In those three wins at Texas – November 2017, November 2018 and November 2019 – Harvick led a total of 334 laps, which is the exact same lap total for a 500-mile race at Texas.
● Prior to joining SHR, Harvick’s laps-led total at Texas was five, an amount earned over the course of 22 races. In his 14 Texas starts since being a part of SHR, Harvick has led 677 laps. His total of 682 laps led at Texas is the second-most among all NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Only Kyle Busch has led more laps at Texas (1,049).
● Before joining SHR, Harvick’s best finish at Texas was third (November 2016). It was one of just three top-fives and 11 top-10s he had at the track
● Harvick will make his 37th NASCAR Cup Series start at Texas in Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500. He and Kurt Busch lead the series in starts at the 1.5-mile oval, with both tied at 36. Texas will mark Harvick’s 751st career Cup Series start and Kurt Busch’s 753rd.
● Harvick’s most recent race at Texas was back in June when he competed in the All-Star Race and finished 15th. It was Texas’ first time hosting the All-Star Race. The non-points event returns to Texas on May 22, 2022.
● Harvick is good at Texas even outside of the NASCAR Cup Series. He has five wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and has led a total of 779 laps, the second-most among all drivers despite not competing in an Xfinity Series race at Texas since 2018. Only Kyle Busch has led more laps in Xfinity Series competition at Texas (1,795). Busch led those laps across 23 starts and Harvick earned his tally in 21 starts. In four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Texas, Harvick owns a win (November 2011) and one other top-five – a fourth place drive in his first Truck Series start at the track in June 1998 when Harvick was just 22 years old and still three years away from his Cup Series debut.
● The 2021 season marks the 12th year of partnership between Harvick and Hunt Brothers Pizza. The nation’s largest brand of made-to-order pizza in the convenience store industry has sponsored Harvick for years in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Hunt Brothers Pizza joined Harvick fulltime in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2019 and has been a mainstay in NASCAR’s premier division ever since. With more than 7,800 locations in 30 states, Hunt Brothers Pizza offers original and thin-crust pizzas available as a grab-and go Hunk, perfect for today’s on-the-go lifestyle or as a customizable whole pizza that is an exceptional value with All Toppings No Extra Charge®. Celebrating 30 years of serving great pizza to convenience store shoppers through its store partners, Hunt Brothers Pizza is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, and is family owned and operated. To find a Hunt Brothers Pizza location near you, download the app by visiting app.HuntBrothersPizza.com.
● Said Harvick about his more than decade-long partnership with Hunt Brothers Pizza: “Our fans are pretty loyal to the brands that are on our cars. Many of my pictures come from the standees in the store. People take selfies next to them. There are a number of reasons you have sponsorships – you want that brand recognition, the brand integration. Hunt Brothers Pizza is a very family-oriented company and we’re a very family-oriented group. Those relationships you build through the years with brands that recognize and reflect what you believe in are few and far between. We’ve grown with the Hunt Brothers Pizza brand. They’ve grown with us and been very loyal to us and I think our fans are very loyal to Hunt Brothers Pizza. It’s fun to see that brand recognition and that understanding of loyalty and partnership. You realize how many Hunt Brothers Pizza stores there are as you drive to racetracks.”
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
Back in 2017, Texas was repaved and turns one and two were reconfigured. How has the track aged since then and has it changed how you drive the track?
“It changed where you drive on the racetrack. You move up the racetrack, so you don’t have to be as technical through (turns) one and two as you used to. Just put it on the grip strip and hope for the best. It’s still a good racetrack for us, still a lot of good things that have happened for us, and hopefully we can continue that.”
Explain a lap around Texas, specifically, how you approach turns one and two and how you approach turns three and four?
“Texas is unique in the fact the two ends are so different. When they changed the racetrack, they made the width of the racetrack a lot wider through (turns) one and two than what it used to be. It’s a lot flatter, as well. It’s a very technical corner both in order to get your car positioned correctly and in order to make your car turn and stay in the throttle. It’s not as technical as it used to be now that the PJ1 is there, but you still have to put your car in the right spot in order to make a good lap time.”
Old pavement. New pavement. A reconfigured turns one and two. No matter the surface or the layout, you’ve been strong at Texas. What has made you so consistent at Texas despite a lot of changes to the track over the years?
“I think it’s just been a great racetrack for us. It’s a racetrack that Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and the team put a lot of effort into. Before we got together, I hadn’t won there. But from the moment I went there with this 4 team, we’ve been good. It’s a testament to how hard this team works.”
How much would you like to see the return of practice and qualifying like it was pre-COVID to where you could get a baseline understanding of how your car would respond to current track conditions before the race begins?
“You can have some form of practice, but there’s no way you can go back to three-day weekends. It’s too streamlined now and there are too many people who have come to realize we don’t need to go back. We’d be foolish if we went back. If we went back to the original format, I think everybody in this whole sport would flip upside-down and try to figure out who the one person is who decided that was the right thing to do.”
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is out and it features only one off weekend. Are you OK with that as it puts you in a groove of racing every weekend but one, or would you like to see some breaks during the course of the year?
“I don’t mind the one off-weekend, personally. I can manage the season, but I wish we had two weeks off. I really wish they could take that first week and lock the shops and give the guys working in the shops a week that they can take off. Those are the guys who get hammered in this whole thing are the road guys who travel week-to-week and the guys that work in the shop. I like the way that F1 does that. You’re going to have a break between the two TV schedules, anyway. I really wish we could just take care of the guys who are in there grinding away on a weekly basis by doing that. We’re keeping track of wind-tunnel time, we’re keeping track of financials, we’re keeping track of so many things with all those super computers that there’s no way you couldn’t figure out how to do that for a week.”