● Wednesday, Feb. 16: Daytona 500 qualifying (single-lap qualifying to determine pole for the Daytona 500)
● Time/TV/Radio: 8 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
● Thursday, Feb. 17: Bluegreen Vacations Duel (twin 150-mile qualifying races that set the field for the Daytona 500)
● Time/TV/Radio: 7 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
● Sunday, Feb. 20: 64th annual Daytona 500 (first of 36 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series races in 2022)
● Time/TV/Radio: 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● The 64th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway will be Kevin Harvick’s21st career start in The Great American Race. His first Daytona 500 came 20 years ago on Feb. 17, 2002. He started second in that race and finished 36th after getting collected in a multicar accident on lap 150.
● Of the 43 drivers who competed in the 2002 Daytona 500, only two are entered in this year’s race – Harvick and Kurt Busch. The 64th Daytona 500 will be Harvick’s 755th career NASCAR Cup Series start and Busch’s 756th career Cup Series start. The next closest driver to either Harvick or Busch who is entered in this year’s Daytona 500 is Kyle Busch, Kurt’s younger brother. He will make his 607th career Cup Series start in the Daytona 500.
● In the 2002 Daytona 500, three of the drivers Harvick and Busch competed against were Bill Elliott, Jeff Burton and Dave Blaney. In the 2022 Daytona 500, Harvick and Busch will compete against their sons, as Chase Elliott, Harrison Burton and Ryan Blaney follow in the footsteps of their fathers.
● Trivia Time! How many NASCAR Hall of Famers competed in the 2002 Daytona 500? Answer: Nine. They are Mark Martin (finished sixth), Jeff Gordon (finished ninth), Elliott (finished 11th), Dale Jarrett (finished 14th), Rusty Wallace (finished 18th), Terry Labonte (finished 20th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (finished 29th), Bobby Labonte (finished 34th) and Tony Stewart (finished 43rd). Who won the race? Answer: Ward Burton by .193 of a second over Elliott Sadler. It was the fourth of his five career NASCAR Cup Series victories. (FYI: Ward Burton is Jeff Burton’s brother and Harrison Burton’s uncle.)
● Five years and one day after Harvick’s Daytona 500 debut, he won the 2007 Daytona 500. He edged the aforementioned Martin for the victory by .02 of a second in a frantic green-white-checkered finish. It is the second closest finish in Daytona 500 history, trailing only Denny Hamlin’s .01-of-a-second advantage over Martin Truex Jr., in 2016.
● To earn a spot in this year’s Daytona 500, drivers must first compete in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel – twin 150-mile qualifying races that set the 40-car field for the Daytona 500. Harvick has won his Duel race twice (2013 and 2019). The driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing is currently on a run of six straight top-five finishes in the Duel, and he has finished among the top-10 in 12 of his last 14 Duel races, including the past seven (2015 to present).
● Before drivers compete in the Duel, they race the clock in single-lap qualifying. The two fastest cars are locked into the field while the rest of the drivers are split into the Duel. Odd-numbered drivers are in the first Duel and even-numbered drivers are in the second Duel. Harvick has never started on the pole for the Daytona 500, but he did take the outside pole once – 2002 in his first Daytona 500. Harvick lapped the 2.5-mile oval in 48.447 seconds at 185.770 mph, just .016 of a second off the pole-winning time of Jimmie Johnson.
● The 2022 season marks Harvick’s 22nd year in the NASCAR Cup Series. Of his 754 career, points-paying starts, 41 of them have come on Daytona’s 2.5-mile oval. In addition to his 2017 Daytona 500 victory, Harvick won the 2010 Coke Zero 400. He has 11 top-fives and 16 top-10s on the Daytona oval. The 64th Daytona 500 will be his 42nd points-paying start on the Daytona oval.
● Outside of the NASCAR Cup Series, Harvick has made 19 career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Daytona and three IROC starts. Of Harvick’s 47 Xfinity Series wins, only one is at Daytona – the 2007 season opener. And Harvick’s best IROC finish at Daytona is seventh, earned twice (2003 and 2004). Harvick is a two-time Xfinity Series champion (2001 and 2006) and the 2002 IROC champion.
● Pristine Auction, an online auction site specializing in autographed memorabilia, sports cards, coins, art and collectibles, has joined Stewart-Haas Racing as an associate sponsor of Harvick’s No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang and that of teammate Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang. Since the inception of the family-owned company in 2010, Pristine Auctions has grown from a spare bedroom to two facilities in Phoenix that totals more than 60,000 square feet and a staff of over 150 team members. Pristine Auction works with top authentication companies to ensure that all items offered are 100 percent authentic, making them a top destination for collectors and sellers globally.
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang
You’re often asked about your strategy in a superspeedway race. But what strategy is there for the entire week of Daytona, where you want to show speed, but also keep a clean car through practice, qualifying, the Duel and then, finally, the Daytona 500?
“As you go through the week, it’s that evolution of the enthusiasm ramping up as you get closer to the Daytona 500. You have to maintain a pretty even-keeled approach to things just because of the fact that you don’t want to be so jacked up and make a stupid move and tear up your car before you even get to the Daytona 500. But you also want to get everything that you can because you want to get the best starting position you can and the best pit selection that you can for the 500. It’s a different mentality than any other week because you practice and race and practice and race again. But it’s not just a race. It’s the Daytona 500. So, it’s a different type of enthusiasm headed for the green flag.”
You ran your first Daytona 500 20 years ago. What was that experience like?
“For me and my career, a lot of things happened backward, probably the opposite of the way they should have. My first season in Cup (2001), I ran every race but the Daytona 500 because of Dale Earnhardt’s death and replacing him in the car. Coming back to the Daytona 500 in 2002 was probably one of the bigger moments in my career just because of all the hype and anticipation from 2001 that led into the Daytona 500. I think I wound up at the front of a 23-car pileup, so it was definitely one of those moments where you wish you could’ve done it a little bit differently and had the outcome be a little bit better. But the Daytona 500 can get your emotions and twist them upside down and make you just crazy and want to do things that you know you shouldn’t do and take risks that you know you shouldn’t take and aren’t going to work, but you’ll do them anyway just because of it being the Daytona 500. Controlling those emotions and controlling those expectations – controlling the week, really – is important. It used to be 12, 14 days of the buildup to the event – we still have the buildup, it’s a much shorter amount of time – but the plot goes everywhere. You have a good qualifying race, bad qualifying race. You used to have the Clash at Daytona – good Clash, bad Clash. PR day, PR stories, whatever, there’s just a lot of hype and buildup that goes into the race and you can’t get caught up in it.”
You and Kurt Busch are the only two drivers in this year’s Daytona 500 who competed in the 2002 Daytona 500, and now you’ll be racing against three sons of drivers you competed with that day – Chase Elliott (son of Bill), Harrison Burton (son of Jeff) and Ryan Blaney (son of Dave). What’s your reaction to that?
“I look at it as being fortunate to be a part of the sport for that long. I’m hoping that it’s just because Bill Elliott, Jeff Burton and Dave Blaney were older as they came into the event and I was just really young, but that isn’t necessarily the case. I guess I’m in their dads’ position now – being in their shoes at the twilight of my career. It’s fun to see the generations of racers come through. Obviously, I’ve been around all those guys for a while now and have seen them all grow up, so it’s been interesting to watch.”
You won the Daytona 500 in 2007. What does it mean to be a Daytona 500 champion?
“After you experience what everybody talks about with the Daytona 500 – that it’s not like any other race, and it’s not – you understand the difference between winning any other race and the Daytona 500. It starts with the week. It starts with the anticipation and the buildup to the green flag. When you look at the winner’s list of the Daytona 500, it’s the who’s who of our sport. You celebrate it differently and you have to do different things than you would for any other race. The Daytona 500 is the pinnacle of winning a race in our sport, and forever you get to hear that Daytona 500 champion in front of your name. It was definitely a great day and obviously a pretty close finish. It definitely makes you want to go back for more.”
What does it take to win the Daytona 500?
“The superspeedways, in general, are difficult to have everything line up to get a win out of the weekend. For the Daytona 500, it’s our biggest race of the year, but it’s also the one race a year that you have months to prepare for. Every team in the garage has their most prepared car that shows up at the Daytona 500. On top of that, you have the most aggression and enthusiasm to try to take risks and do things that you normally wouldn’t do to win races because the Daytona 500 only comes once a year, and it can make a year and it can also make a career out of winning that race. I think as you look at the Daytona 500, it’s just different than any other race and it becomes difficult to win because of all the risk-taking that you don’t see on a weekly basis.”
What’s a Daytona 500 memory that stands out the most for you?
“Obviously, winning the 500 in ’07 is the one that sticks out. I think last year, having a chance to win there and everybody crashing and everything that happened toward the end of the race, you’d hoped the outcome was a little bit different. Having driven into victory lane at the Daytona 500 makes you want to drive back into it just because of the fact that you understand how much comes with winning the Daytona 500 and what it means to a season. It makes your whole year all in one moment. But I think winning the 500 was the proudest moment.”
Describe what happened in last year’s Daytona 500.
“Last year’s race was one where if things go right, you wind up having a chance to win there at the end. Everything kind of got shook up at the end of the race and we came up just a little bit short and wound up finishing fourth. It was a good week for us, as a company and as a team. That’s definitely the way you want to get the season started.”
What are your expectations for this season?
“I feel good, and I think there are really no expectations. As you look at the season, you just have to be ready for a change in direction at the drop of a hat because of where we are with the new car and all the unknowns of what you’re looking for. So, my expectation going into the year is to be ready to adapt. Whether it’s a practice session, qualifying session, the race, it’s all going to be drastically different. You just have to be open-minded to be able to adapt to your surroundings and your situation and not get too wound up about anything because of the fact that next week, it might be different. You just never know, but it’s been the oddest year I’ve ever gone into just because of all the unknowns and all the differences with the car. I think you just have to be somewhat relaxed about it and just know that’s the expectation.”
Do you have a specific goal this year?
“Our goals never change. It’s to try and put yourself in position to win races and be competitive all year and, hopefully by the end of the year, you’re somewhere in a position to race for a championship.”
There is a new car this year – the NextGen car. What feedback did you get from when teams tested at Daytona in mid-January?
“The feedback was that the cars were very comfortable to drive, very stable. It sounds like there may be some tandem racing that comes back into play. And, reading the reports, it sounds like the cars are still very affected by the side draft and that they push well, so it sounds like the speedway racing will be affected the least amount by the new car. It’s everything else that’s going to be drastically different.”