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. 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 remember 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 Foundation 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 funding 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 first year partnering with the Folds of Honor Foundation.
With the patriotic paint scheme adorning Harvick’s No. 4 Chevrolet this weekend, the two-time race winner already in 2014 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.
While Sonoma is one of seven tracks on the Sprint Cup tour where the Bakersfield, California native has yet to notch a win, he’s certainly come close to victory there. In his 13 starts at Sonoma, Harvick has three top-five finishes, including a runner-up effort in 2007, and third-place runs in 2003 and 2010.
As Harvick and his No. 4 team enter the first of two road-course races of the 2014 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.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Folds of Honor/Outback Steakhouse/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
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.”
You’ve scored a win at Watkins Glen but you’re winless at Sonoma. Your results there are a bit feast-or-famine – you seem to either have a solid, top-10 day, or you’re back in the pack. Talk a little bit about the ups and downs you’ve experienced at Sonoma.
“I think, if you look into the facts a little bit deeper than just looking at the stats, it shows that the results really aren’t what they should have been on the days that weren’t very good. It’s really easy to get caught up in an accident at Sonoma and not have a good day, but I think for the most part we’ve run really well there and I’m looking forward to going back.”
Road-course races have become more and more like short-track races lately, where we see a lot of beating and banging for position, especially late in the race. What do you attribute that to? Besides the obvious, do you feel that patience wears on drivers after having to be so focused on hitting their marks lap after lap?
“I think it’s just so hard to pass as you go through the restarts. You have to try to take advantage of what you can when you have the opportunity to. Usually, that comes with taking a risk driving the car into the corner a little bit deeper than what you had in the past, and sometimes that results in the front tires sliding or the rear tires hopping, and you make a mistake that can tear your car up along with a few others. It’s just one of those places where the double-file restarts have really affected what you do to try to gain positions. You have the opportunity to gain them on the restarts, and that has created that short-track feel as we’ve gone to the road races.”
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 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 jump on board to join along Budweiser and doing the things they’ve done throughout the years for the Folds of Honor is going to be fun to be a part of.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine