KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Each year in early May, signs of spring begin to appear. The grass begins to grow, the weather becomes warmer and flowers bloom. Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is hoping to do his part and “make it bloom” in conjunction with Outback Steakhouse this May.
Outback Steakhouse has celebrated Harvick’s eight top-10 finishes thus far in 2015 by giving its customers a free Bloomin’ Onion® on Bloomin’ Mondays – the Monday immediately following each top-10 finish. Harvick would like to continue those Bloomin’ celebrations this weekend by scoring another top-10 by way of his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race win of 2015 and the second of his career at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
In fact, if Harvick is able to score his ninth top-10 of the season this weekend, Outback Steakhouse will give away its 1 millionth Bloomin’ Onion as part of its Bloomin’ Monday promotion.
Harvick has been generous with Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Onions since joining SHR at the beginning of the 2014 Sprint Cup season. He has scored 28 top-10 finishes in 45 Sprint Cup points-paying races since joining the team, including both his 2014 Sprint Cup starts at Talladega. Only Joey Logano with 30 top-10 finishes and Jeff Gordon with 29 have scored more top-10s since the start of last season.
Harvick’s spot in the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship is secured with two wins in the first nine races as the No. 4 has been dominant just about every weekend.
Nine races into 2015, Harvick sits atop the driver standings with 357 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 952 laps with an average finish of 6.4 thus far. His 952 laps led are nearly twice as many as the next-closest competitor – SHR teammate Kurt Busch’s 520.
Harvick leads several other statistical categories – 129.4 driver rating, 536 fastest laps run, 21.7 percent of fastest laps run, 31.1 percentage of laps led, 1,008.22 miles led, 2,832 laps in the top-15, 92.5 percentage of laps in the top-15, average running position at 5.2, average finish of 6.4 and 84.5 percent quality passes.
With his ticket into the Sprint Cup postseason punched thanks to his two Sprint Cup victories, Harvick and his Rodney Childers-led crew can head to Talladega feeling less pressure and welcome the opportunity to race aggressively for a third win. The 30-time Sprint Cup race winner will look to score his eighth win and 29th top-10 since joining SHR, as well as providing Outback Steakhouse a chance to give away its 1 millionth Bloomin’ Onion on another Bloomin’ Monday.
You’ve won at both superspeedways on the circuit, Daytona and Talladega. Your record on the restrictor-plate tracks speaks for itself. Do you approach these races with a strategy in mind, as far as working to get out front and stay there, or ride at the back? Or, do you just take each race as it comes?
“I think a lot of the approach depends on where you qualify. At a lot of these tracks, if you can qualify decent and race up front with the current rules package, I think it’s better to stay up front and try to keep yourself there throughout the day. Obviously, if you don’t qualify well, you go with the opposite strategy. For us, having a couple of wins in the bank, I think you race as hard as you can all day to try and keep yourself up front and have a complete day of hopefully keeping the car rolling when it’s time to be around at the end.”
Do you feel tracks like Talladega and Daytona are anomalies in the sense that, unlike most tracks, track position is not as important until the last few laps?
“I still think track position is pretty important, just for the fact that it seems like it takes longer to make a move and to make things happen. So I think, as you look back at this current car and this current rules package, you want to be somewhere toward the front.”
Talk about your sponsor this weekend – Outback Steakhouse – and the unique activation they do around the program, including the Bloomin’ Monday promotion.
“Outback is very involved in what they do. The Bloomin’ Monday promotion is really fun, and it’s something that the fans are really into. It’s something that draws a lot of attention to Monday mornings, afternoons or evenings, whatever time zone you’re in, for everyone to head to Outback Steakhouse. People love free stuff. It’s crazy that they are almost to 1 million for the entire program. That’s a huge number. But, I’m hoping we can add to it and deliver again for the race fans this Monday.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine