KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), spent Tuesday afternoon with his team on the South Lawn of The White House in Washington D.C., being honored by President of the United States Barack Obama for winning the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Interestingly enough, however, the No. 4 team’s meeting with the Commander in Chief of the United States Military might not have been possible if not for a chant created by a former Navy platoon member.
I believe. I believe that. I believe that we. I believe that we will win.
The inspiring chant began at the Naval Academy Prep School in the fall of 1998 by Jay Rodriguez, who was tasked to create a cheer for his 50-member platoon. The chant quickly caught on and, much to Rodriguez’s surprise 16 years later, the entire country would be yelling this with fervor as they cheered on the U.S. men’s national soccer team in the 2014 World Cup.
Harvick borrowed the chant from a YouTube video of U.S. soccer legend Landon Donovan and thought it epitomized the will to win of his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team. In the midst of his team’s 2014 playoff run, Harvick sent the video to his crew chief Rodney Childers and each member of the team before the pivotal Bank of America 500 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in October.
Harvick and the No. 4 team went on to win at Charlotte and carried that momentum on to win three of the final six races, including the final two at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, to capture the 2014 Sprint Cup championship in dramatic fashion, chanting all the while.
Their red-white-and-blue pursuit came full circle this week when President Obama honored the No. 4 team for its championship, noting its team chemistry and resilience under pressure to be where the championship season was forged. The team owes a lot of its chemistry and close team bond to the inspirational chant that held it together and allowed it to believe in one common goal – winning the championship.
This weekend at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, just 100 miles from the President’s home, the team returns to the track with even more passion to prove that it does, in fact, believe it will win again.
Harvick’s spot in the 2015 Chase for the Championship is secured with two wins in the first eight races as the No. 4 has been dominant in almost every race so far this season.
Eight races into 2015, Harvick sits atop the driver standings with 314 points. His five straight Sprint Cup finishes of second or better to start the season is a series record. He has led a series-high 950 laps with an average finish of 7.0 through the first eight races of 2015. His 950 laps led are nearly three times as many as the next-closest competitor – Joey Logano with 324.
Harvick leads several other statistical categories – 130.2 driver rating, 487 fastest laps run, 22.9 percent of fastest laps run, 35.7 percentage of laps led, 1,006.72 miles led, 2,432 laps in the top-15, 91.4 percentage of laps in the top-15, average running position at 5.3, average finish of 7.0 and 84.5 percent of quality passes.
Harvick looks to continue his streak of dominance this weekend in Saturday night’s Richmond 400. Powered by the American dream, Harvick and the No. 4 team continue to believe that this will once again be their year.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What makes Richmond unique to you?
“Richmond has been a very successful racetrack for us as we’ve gone through the years. We didn’t run as well as we all wanted to last year at the Richmond races, so I think as we go back this year we’re going to shoot to be a little better than we were last year. We’ll try some different things. It’s been a very good racetrack for me in the past and I’m looking forward to going back. I like the short, flat tracks.”
Is back-to-back short tracks a good thing for the No. 4 team this time of year?
“I think short-track racing is something that we all enjoy any time we get to go do that. I don’t know if having back-to-back short tracks is good or bad for us. I think right now we are fortunate to be on the side of things going well. We’ll just show up and race again.”
Do you consider yourself a short-track specialist?
“I think we’ve had success on short tracks in the past. It’s really just a matter putting a weekend together. It’s really no different than any other racetrack. This business is hard to be successful at and sometimes you go through years where short tracks are good and some years not so good. Some years longer tracks are good and some are not so good. It’s really just about putting together a whole weekend. It all starts with practice on Friday and trying to qualify well. I enjoy the short tracks because we don’t get to go to quite as many as I think we’d all like.”
Do you have a favorite win at Richmond?
“I remember the ones I lost more than I do the ones I won. I think the first one where Ricky Rudd and I were racing in 2001 was pretty cool. But I think as you look back at the last one we won in 2013 as part of a green-white-checkered finish, I think we came from seventh to win, so I didn’t really expect to win that one. I think the other two were probably fairly strong nights for us.”
How was your experience being honored by the President of the United States with your team at the White House this week?
“It was an amazing honor. Any time the President of the United States invites you to the White House, it’s an honor, but for him to invite us and honor us on the South Lawn of the White House is something I’ll remember for a long time. People have asked me for a while now if winning the 2014 Sprint Cup championship has sunk in, yet, and honestly, I don’t spend much time thinking about it because I’m focused on trying to do it again this year. But, meeting President Obama in that setting with the whole team there is pretty special. The President is an important person with an extremely busy schedule, so it was nice that he took the time to invite us to the White House, meet with us and recognize our team for all its hard work.”
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