KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is expecting a freaky fast care-free Sunday drive in the Alabama 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Harvick’s win last Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City automatically locked him into the Round of 8 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup before arriving at Talladega and now he can have a stress-free Sunday drive around the 2.66-mile superspeedway and concentrate on winning his second-consecutive Sprint Cup race.
The No. 4 team has used a winning strategy to advance to this point in the Chase. The team advanced to the Round of 12 with a victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon before locking into the Round of 8 last weekend at Kansas.
The Bakersfield, California native continues his streak as the only driver since the inception of the elimination-style format in 2014 to avoid an early exit in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
Talladega Superspeedway is known for its unpredictability due to high speeds, close racing and the ever-present threat of “the big one.” Harvick, however, has performed well on the restrictor-plate racetracks of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega in recent years.
In his last 10 restrictor-plate races, Harvick ranks second in top-10s and fourth in total points scored with 295. But his last points-paying Sprint Cup win on a restrictor-plate track came at Daytona in 2010. This weekend at Talladega, he will be looking to add his fourth points-paying Sprint Cup win on a restrictor-plate track.
The 2014 Sprint Cup champion has one career win at Talladega in NASCAR’s premier series. In April 2010, Harvick started fourth and led just two laps but, in the closing laps, he pushed Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 car and the two pulled away from the pack. As they navigated the tri-oval one final time, Harvick jumped out of the draft to beat McMurray to the finish line by .011 of a second, which still ranks 15th among the closest finishes in Sprint Cup Series history.
Harvick will go for his second win in consecutive weeks this weekend at Talladega, a feat that he has accomplished on two other occasions since joining SHR. In November 2014, he finished the season with back-to-back wins at Phoenix International Raceway and Miami-Homestead Speedway. He won two consecutive races in March 2015 when he reached victory lane at both Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix on consecutive weekends.
A stress-free Sunday drive this weekend at Talladega will provide the No. 4 Jimmy John’s team with a chance to reach victory lane for the fifth time this season, the second time in as many weeks and the third time in the last five races.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Is Talladega the most anticipated race in the Chase?
“Yes, Talladega is, for sure. There are so many things out of your control and you want to control as many things as possible on a week-to-week basis. Sure, there have been a lot of circumstances that have taken wins out of our hands throughout the regular season. But I think, as you look at the things that can be taken out of your hands, and circumstances, you expect those things. But there are so many more things that can happen at Talladega with the odds of getting into an accident way higher. They are usually big accidents and take out multiple cars. Talladega is the one you don’t want to have to deal with.”
RODNEY CHILDERS, Crew Chief of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What does the win at Kansas do in terms of preparation for Talladega and the next round?
“You always want to go win a race but, on the other hand, you can't control it. Our focus is going to be on Martinsville and moving forward. We’ve got nice stuff to take to Talladega. We were planning on going down there to have to win the race there. We’ll definitely go down there and race hard. It’s just nice to be able to focus on the weeks going forward. This past week was rough on the whole race team, to be honest. Let those guys go see their kids and families a few nights. It’s going to mean a lot to them. Everybody catch their breath and get ready for Martinsville.”
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