Sunday, Jun 04

Busch Light Racing: Kevin Harvick Bristol Dirt Race Advance

Notes of Interest


●  Want to make the commercial breaks during FOX’s broadcast of the Food City Dirt Race Sunday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway work for you? So does Busch Light. The coldest and smoothest light lager is providing race fans with the chance to win some cool prizes during commercial breaks. Just follow @BuschBeer on Twitter, turn on notifications, and tweet #Break4Busch and #Sweepstakes every time there’s a commercial break for your chance to win $5,000. FOX’s coverage of the race begins at 7 p.m. EDT.


●  Harvick has made 42 career NASCAR Cup Series starts on Bristol’s traditional, concrete surface. Despite three wins, 14 top-fives, 22 top-10s and 1,209 laps led at the .533-mile oval since 2001, none of it matters this weekend in the series’ return to Bristol. For the third straight spring race, Bristol’s concrete has been covered with dirt, and Harvick’s past accolades have been buried. The Food City Dirt Race is back.


●  Do you remember the Prelude to the Dream? Of course you do, because like Ron Burgundy in Anchorman, it was “kind of a big deal.” The charity dirt late model race that Tony Stewart hosted at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, from 2005 to 2012 was where many NASCAR Cup Series drivers got their first taste of dirt racing. Harvick was one of those drivers. He competed in four Preludes – 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 – and earned a best finish of seventh in 2008. But that wasn’t Harvick’s only experience on dirt. During this same timeframe, Harvick also raced an IMCA dirt modified on a handful of occasions, making one-off appearances at such tracks as Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio, Macon (Ill.) Speedway and even in his hometown when he raced at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway.


●  The last Prelude was in 2012, and taking its place at Eldora was the NASCAR Truck Series, which began a seven-year run at the half-mile, dirt oval from 2013-2019. That inaugural race on July 24 was the first time in more than four decades a top NASCAR series had competed on dirt – the last being Sept. 30, 1970 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh where Richard Petty took the 117th of his record 200 career NASCAR Cup Series wins. Like Eldora, it was on a Wednesday night and contested on a half-mile oval. There was never a repeat winner in the Truck Series race at Eldora, and five of its seven winners are entered in the Food City Dirt Race – Austin Dillon (2013), Bubba Wallace (2014), Christopher Bell (2015), Kyle Larson (2016) and Chase Briscoe (2018). The two winners not entered at Bristol are Matt Crafton (2017) and Stewart Friesen (2019).


●  In the inaugural NASCAR dirt weekend at Bristol, Harvick pulled double duty competing in both the NASCAR Truck Series race and the NASCAR Cup Series race. In a Ford F-150 for David Gilliland Racing, Harvick started 30th and finished 15th in his first Truck race since Aug. 1, 2015 when he finished second at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. On Sunday for the Cup race, Harvick started sixth and recorded another 15th-place finish. That remains his best finish in the Food City Dirt Race, as a crash 100 laps into last year’s race left Harvick with a 34th-place finish.


Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light #Break4Busch Ford Mustang 


We’re back to the dirt at Bristol. Racing on dirt is obviously different, but how different is it when it comes to what you need to do behind the wheel?

“You know, Bristol Dirt was much easier than I anticipated it being because it wasn’t like a normal dirt race. I was expecting a normal dirt race, but when you look at Bristol Dirt and the way the cars drive, it was a lot of the same tendencies that you had with a normal Cup car. Being able to have all my stuff and all of the same tendencies just made it a lot better for me, even with all differences of racing on dirt.”


Prior to the inaugural dirt race at Bristol two years ago, your last time on dirt was back in 2009 at the Prelude to the Dream dirt late model race at Eldora Speedway. Was there some muscle memory that kicked in when you first got on the dirt there at Bristol, or was it a whole new experience all over again?

“I’d say there was more crossover from the IMCA modified than there was from the dirt late model just because of the way the car drove. The part that I struggled with in the dirt late model was just how violent and fast everything happened, and that was just something that I’d never done before. With the IMCA car, it was slower and more methodical, with slower throttle control. It wasn’t ‘romp and stomp.’ It was pretty methodical about the way you drove. Our cars were kind of that same way. For a dirt race, it was about as enjoyable as any dirt race I’d ever done.”


Do the guys who have a dirt background have an advantage at Bristol, or is the style of racing so different compared to a sprint car or midget or dirt late model that it really doesn’t matter?

“It’s just not as much like what those guys do. Obviously, they can look at the racetrack and tell easier when it’s ready to move up a lane, and they have a little more confidence to pass. But in the end, Cup regulars have won both of these races, so I think that tells you how much more it’s like what we normally do than what a lot of people thought it might be.”


What was your dirt-racing experience prior to the inaugural dirt race at Bristol?

“I ran Tony Stewart’s Prelude to the Dream at Eldora four times, and the last one was in 2009. I actually ran a lot of races on dirt around that time. The only one I ever won was at Dave Blaney’s track (Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio) and that was in an IMCA car. But I ran the IMCA car several times that year, probably four or five times. I’m fairly certain I ran in my hometown of Bakersfield (California), I ran at Blaney’s track in Ohio, I ran at Macon in Illinois, I ran in Minnesota – all that stuff was around the time when I raced in the Prelude.”


When you ran those IMCA races, who did you drive for?

“I had my own car that I ran at three or four of them, and another owner’s car in Bakersfield, and at that time I was teammates with (Clint) Bowyer. Most everything was done by Mike Dillon with their dirt team. They had everything in place and they built the car for me and everything. So, Team Dillon was doing everything for us on that side of it.”




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