Notes of Interest
● Busch Light, a longtime supporter of farming communities, is bringing limited-edition “For the Farmers” cans to fans across the country. A portion of the proceeds from the release will benefit Farm Rescue, a non-profit that provides critical material aid to family farms. Available May 16 through July 3, consumers can purchase 24- or 30-pack cases of 12-ounce “For the Farmers” Busch Light cans. For each case sold during its limited run, Busch Light will donate $1 to Farm Rescue, up to a maximum of $100,000. Since its inception in 2005, Farm Rescue has helped nearly 800 family farms sustain operations in times of crisis, providing hands-on assistance to farm and ranch families that have experienced a major injury, illness or natural disaster. 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 (Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman being the others) – and has amassed quite the history in his 32 career starts. Three wins, five second-place finishes, 11 top-threes, 12 top-fives, 19 top-10s and 949 laps led make Harvick one of the most successful drivers in Kansas’ relatively young history. His average start is 13.1, his average finish is 8.9 and he has a lap completion rate of 98.7 percent.
● Harvick’s recent history at Kansas amplifies his overall record at the 1.5-mile oval. Harvick has five straight top-10 finishes in his last five NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kansas. In his last four Kansas races, he has four consecutive top-fives. And in his last three Kansas races, Harvick has finished among the top-three, a run that includes two second-place finishes (May 2021 and October 2020).
● Harvick scored his first NASCAR Cup Series win at Kansas in the 2013 Hollywood Casino 400 with a massive 1.140-second margin over runner-up Kurt Busch. Harvick scored his next Kansas win in the 2016 Hollywood Casino 400 with another impressive performance, crossing the stripe 1.183 seconds ahead of next best Carl Edwards. Harvick’s most recent Kansas victory came in May 2018 when he beat Martin Truex, Jr., by .390 of a second.
● 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 nine of the 16 Cup Series winners at Kansas are active. Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 marks the 33rd Cup Series race at Kansas.
● Harvick’s 12 top-fives at Kansas are the most among active drivers, as are his 19 top-10s, and both are by a wide margin. Next best in top-fives are Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Truex with nine top-fives apiece. And when it comes to top-10s, Truex is next best with 14 top-10s.
● No one has led more laps at Kansas than Harvick. His 949 laps led around the 1.5-mile oval are 146 more laps than Truex, his nearest pursuer in this category.
● Harvick also leads nearly every Loop Data category at Kansas: Average Finish of 7.8 (series-best); Average Running Position of 8.5 (series-best): Driver Rating of 109.0 (series-best); 649 Fastest Laps Run (series-best); 6,126 Laps in the Top-15 (82.3 percent, series-most) and 1,124 Quality Passes (series-most).
● Harvick is good at Kansas even outside of the NASCAR Cup Series. He has six top-fives across 11 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track, with the highlight being a victory in September 2006 when he beat Matt Kenseth for the win by .423 of a second. Kenseth retired from NASCAR upon the conclusion of the 2020 season and was recently named to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2023.
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light #ForTheFarmers Ford Mustang
Your history at Kansas is impressive. Three wins, five second-place finishes, 11 top-threes, 12 top-fives, 19 top-10s and 949 laps led across 32 career NASCAR Cup Series starts. What makes you so good there?
“I think Kansas has been a great racetrack and, really from a driver’s standpoint, a fun racetrack because of the fact that it’s worn in so well. You can race at the top of the racetrack, which is the preferred groove as the tires wear out. It’s faster at the bottom of the racetrack on new tires. But as a driver, having options is something that is a lot of fun. With Atlanta having been repaved along with some of the other racetracks, Kansas has become one of the more unique racetracks because of the fact the asphalt and the shape of the racetrack is so driver-friendly, as far as where you can drive on the racetrack. You can literally drive from the wall to the apron all the way around the racetrack. So, it’s a fun racetrack. It’s been good to us and, hopefully, we can continue that trend on Sunday in our Busch Light #ForTheFarmers Ford Mustang.”
With races at intermediate tracks in Fontana, California, and Las Vegas already under your belt, do either of those races provide a level of expectation for Kansas?
“I think Vegas kind of leaned more toward what we’ll see at Kansas compared to some of the other racetracks. Kansas is just a cool racetrack that you can move around on from the top to the bottom. These cars race a lot better on the mile-and-a-halves than I think we all thought they would. I look for Kansas, especially with the cooler part of the year, to be a good race just because of what we’ve seen so far this season.”
How quickly are you developing the NextGen car? Specifically, how applicable are two races at the end of February/early March in helping you prepare for a race more than two months later?
“As you look at the way things are going, every week is an evolution. From where we were at California to where we’ll be at Kansas is going to be a pretty big step forward.”
By being able to move around on the track at Kansas, can you be more aggressive with these cars than you can at other tracks?
“In certain situations. I think from pushing, restarts, things like that, you can be pretty aggressive with them, but you also have to be pretty careful with them in certain spots, because it can get out from underneath you pretty quickly.”
Race strategy, particularly at Kansas, has come into play in recent races. While strategy is more in the realm of your crew chief, Rodney Childers, when it dictates a race outcome instead of sheer performance, do you have to sort of switch your mindset, perhaps by finding some patience even when you want to just go as hard as you can?
“These cars, in certain situations, have worn the tires a lot more than what they’ve done in the past. Kansas can be a high-wear racetrack just because of the way that the surface has aged, which is a great thing. So, I think for a lot of that, you’ll just have to see what the pit windows are and what the tire wear is when we go there. But it’s definitely a racey track. Those guys can see a lot more on the pit box than I can see in the car, so I usually just go with what they tell me and kind of roll from there.”