Always Exciting in Las Vegas
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Feb. 29, 2016) – Kevin Harvick may be a winner before he even starts the Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
That’s because the driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is also a businessman who runs his own management firm, KHI Management, which represents Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s bantamweight title challenger Miesha Tate. Tate will fight champion Holly Holm as the co-headliner Saturday night during UFC 196 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Harvick will be looking for a clean sweep of the weekend in Las Vegas both in the octagon and on the racetrack.
The defending Kobalt 400 winner delivered a dominating performance at Las Vegas in 2015 to score his first win of the season and his first at Las Vegas in only the season’s third race. His No. 4 car lived up to the “freaky fast” motto of sponsor Jimmy John’s as he led five times for a race-high 142 laps en route to his 29th career Sprint Cup win.
The Bakersfield, California native has had reasons to celebrate at Las Vegas dating all the way back to 2001. Following his Sprint Cup debut Feb. 26 of that year at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway, the series headed west to Las Vegas. On Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2001, Harvick married his wife DeLana. That Sunday, March 4, Harvick scored his first career Sprint Cup top-10.
In early December 2014, he was honored as the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion during Champions Week in Las Vegas.
Harvick also has two wins in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition at Las Vegas. His first came in March 2004, when he started 11th, led 14 laps and raced his way to victory by 0.119 of a second over runner-up Kasey Kahne.
Harvick’s second Xfinity win at Las Vegas came in February 2010. Driving his own No. 33 Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc., he started second, led 82 laps and beat runner-up Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 1.361 seconds. It was the sixth win for Harvick’s team in the Xfinity Series.
He is still searching for his first Sprint Cup pole at Las Vegas, but he did win the pole for the Xfinity race in 2007, when he turned a lap at 181.111 mph.
If the start of the 2016 Sprint Cup season is any indication, Harvick should have plenty of opportunities to celebrate this weekend. He kicked off the season with a fourth-place finish in the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and followed that with a dominating performance last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he led a race-high 131 laps and scored his second consecutive top-10.
Harvick’s goal now is to score his first win of the 2016 campaign and defend his Kobalt 400 crown Sunday on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas tri-oval.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You got married in Las Vegas, you’ve won a Sprint Cup race there, two Xfinity Series races, and celebrated your Sprint Cup championship in Las Vegas. Does the city have a special meaning to you?
“I have raced there for a long time but I don’t know that it has that special meaning other than the fact that we got married out there. Usually, DeLana and I eat at the same restaurant, we go to the same places and try to have some fun. It’s definitely been a good racetrack for me. It’s still a place where I have a lot of family and friends and people I enjoy. It’s a busy weekend but, all-in-all, it’s still a fun place to go.”
KHI Management, represents fighter Miesha Tate, who is fighting for the bantamweight title against champion Holly Holm Saturday at UFC 196 in Las Vegas? That is going to be a huge fight and a crazy environment that will be co-headlined by a special welterweight bout between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. What are you expecting?
“I’ve been to one fight that has that type of environment – when I went to Brock Lesnar’s fight back when he fought for the belt the last time. But the buzz that Conor (McGregor) creates and Miesha (Tate) and her weight class create, you know, and from the management side of it, you look at it and you have one of your fighters fighting for the championship. To be able to go see that is exciting. You blend that all together with the NASCAR weekend and you have the fight in town, we’ll have a lot of sponsors in town, which makes it great because you’re going to have the sponsors at the event. You’re going to have the sponsors at the NASCAR event, and a lot of NASCAR people at the UFC event. It’s going to be a great weekend and a lot of fun. I think it’s going to be fun to just take in that atmosphere, because when you get in fights that are at that level, it’s just a different atmosphere. You don’t get that atmosphere created very often, so it’s fun to be involved.
Did you know that the fight was going to take place on the same weekend as the Sprint Cup race? Does that help you from a business perspective with your KHI Management and NASCAR partners?
“We knew when everything was happening that it was going to be right around the NASCAR weekend in Las Vegas, and UFC decided to actually have it on that weekend. Once we saw it was the same weekend, we definitely changed our course of action for planning for that weekend. We knew we were going to have a lot of people there, so now that’s really why we do the management company. When you have these types of events and they fall into place like that and you can crosspromote like that –people who aren’t NASCAR fans or UFC fans who aren’t NASCAR fans – and you can get them to the other events, that’s a big plus for us on the sponsorship side and entertaining people. So I don’t think there is anybody who’s going to come for one or the other and not go to both events. That’s a good thing.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine