KANNAPOLIS, N.C. –Budweiser and Outback Steakhouse, both primary sponsors of Kevin Harvick and Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), have long histories of supporting military-based charities. For the second straight year, both entities have partnered with the Folds of Honor Foundation to honor the memories of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States Armed Forces, and also remembering the families they left behind.
Founded in May 2007, the Folds of Honor Foundation gives back to the families of soldiers killed or disabled in action through scholarships and other assistance. For this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, Harvick’s No. 4 Chevrolet SS will feature a patriotic scheme showcasing the foundation.
The Folds of Honor organization was founded by Maj. Dan Rooney, a former F-16 fighter pilot with the Oklahoma Air National Guard. A decorated military pilot, Maj. Rooney served three combat tours in Iraq. It was after his second tour, while as a passenger on a commercial flight, that he witnessed an event that would profoundly change his life.
As the plane landed, the pilot announced that an American hero was on board and asked the passengers to remain seated while the family received him in his final homecoming. Maj. Rooney watched through the window of the plane as a flag-draped casket was lowered. That solemn homecoming was the inspiration behind the creation of the Folds of Honor Foundation.
Budweiser, an American brand rooted in patriotism, has actively supported the U.S military for more than 150 years through charitable partnerships, event sponsorships and employee support programs. Budweiser first partnered with the Folds of Honor Foundation in 2010. Since that time, Budweiser and its wholesalers have raised nearly $10 million for military families and thousands of scholarships across the country.
Similarly, Outback Steakhouse has a 20-year history of proudly supporting our nation’s troops. Outback has donated more than $2 million to Operation Homefront to assist military families during difficult financial times by providing food assistance, auto and home repair, vision care, travel and transportation, moving assistance, essential home items and financial assistance. The company is in its second year partnering with the Folds of Honor Foundation.
As Harvick and his No. 4 team enter the first of two road-course races of the 2015 Sprint Cup season, there are two primary items on the agenda – to honor the veterans whose sacrifice and service allow all of us the freedom to pursue our individual dreams by bringing attention to the Fold of Honor Foundation, and to continue adding to his on-track successes for the No. 4 team with another trip to victory lane.
Fifteen races into 2015, Harvick has scored 10 top-two finishes. That’s eight second-place finishes, plus wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway, and he sits atop the driver standings with 576 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 1,225 laps with an average finish of 7.3. His 1,225 laps led are 560 laps more than the next-closest competitor – 665 by his SHR teammate Kurt Busch.
The Bakersfield, California native leads several other statistical categories: 126.0 driver rating, 10 top-five finishes, 26 bonus points, 755 fastest laps run, 20.1 percent of fastest laps run, 26.5 percent of laps led, 1,443.88 miles led, 4,289 laps in the top-15, 92.9 percent of laps in the top-15, average running position of 5.4, an average finish of 7.3 and a 68.5 percentage of quality passes.
The reigning Sprint Cup champion has led at least one lap in 14 straight Sprint Cup points events in 2015. The only race he hasn’t led was the season-opening Daytona 500.
With the patriotic paint scheme adorning Harvick’s No. 4 Chevrolet this weekend, the two-time race winner already in 2015 would like nothing more than to draw attention to the Folds of Honor Foundation and pay tribute to this country’s military heroes by making a trip to victory lane at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile Sonoma road course.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse/Budweiser/Folds of Honor Chevrolet SS:
Talk a little bit about both Budweiser and Outback Steakhouse supporting the Folds of Honor Foundation this weekend with the special paint scheme on your No. 4 Chevrolet.
“The Folds of Honor Foundation is a great organization. Maj. Dan (Rooney, founder of the Folds of Honor Foundation) is one of those people who, when you talk to him, you feel better about yourself afterward. What they do for families and the scholarships they hand out is absolutely amazing. To see Outback Steakhouse and Budweiser join together for a second year and do the things they’ve done with Folds of Honor is great to be a part of.”
Sonoma is one of only two road courses on the Sprint Cup schedule and it’s widely regarded as the more technical of the two. What are the big differences between Sonoma and Watkins Glen?
“I think the biggest difference between Sonoma and Watkins Glen is that the speeds are drastically different. Sonoma is a much tighter course with sharper corners and a lot less speed where you don’t really even use fourth gear, unless you’re saving gas. It’s a much slower track than Watkins Glen and the tires fall off a lot more than they do at The Glen. So, you’ve got to get your car to technically be very good as it turns the corner, but also keep track of the forward grip as you go through a run.”
What is the first thing you think of when you think of Sonoma?
“The first thing I think of when we are going to Sonoma is that we are going road racing. It’s definitely the first road race of the year and Sonoma is a very technical, slower-type road course. I’ve been fortunate to race there for a long time and look forward to going there every year.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine