Cup Championship 4 profile: Kevin Harvick

Leave a comment

Kevin Harvick was the first driver to win the championship under the current Cup playoff elimination format in 2014.

He’s reached the championship round in three of its four years.

Now he looks to become the first multi-time winner under the new format.

It has been a season more of consistency than spectacular outings for Harvick. He comes to Miami with two wins, fewest of the four championship contenders, but is second to only Martin Truex Jr. in top-10 finishes (25 to 22).

Also of note, Harvick’s two wins are his fewest since 2012, when he won only one race. While he hasn’t lived up to his nickname of “The Closer” as much as in past seasons, it has still been a good season for the driver of the No. 4.

That Harvick and Stewart-Haas Racing are in the championship round in their first year after transitioning from Chevrolet to Ford power is a testament to the team’s ability to make changes and its versatility.

It also means a lot to Ford, which has two entries in the championship round, as does Toyota, but can claim bragging rights over Chevrolet, which has no cars vying for the championship.

KEVIN HARVICK

Crew chief: Rodney Childers

2017 wins: 2 (Sonoma, Texas II)

2017 Top 10s: 22

Laps Led: 850 (fourth in series)

Championship 4 history: Won it in 2014; Made it in 2015, finished third.

Memorable race: Passed Martin Truex Jr. with 10 laps to go nearly two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway and continued to the checkered flag. It was Harvick’s first career Cup win at TMS.

Playoff march: Started march to Miami with third-place finish at Chicagoland; had five top-five finishes – including win at Texas – in first nine races. Win at Texas in Round of 8 punched his ticket to Miami.

Why Harvick will win the title: Homestead-Miami Speedway is one of his favorite and more successful tracks. Has finished first (2014), second (2015) and third (2016) in last three races there and has 14 top-10 finishes in 16 starts there. Also, Childers is one of the top crew chiefs in the sport.

Why Harvick won’t win the title: Ford was dominant early in the season, winning five of the first 10 races, including the Daytona 500. But since, Toyota has won 14 races since (15 overall), including seven of the first nine playoff races. Truex and Busch will have to be taken out or suffer mechanical failure for Harvick to have a chance at the title.

What Steve Letarte says: “Kevin Harvick is my favorite. … The 4 of Kevin Harvick, Rodney Childers on the pit box, has really been magical since being put together at Stewart-Haas Racing years back. They’ve already won one championship and I really think they’ve been off the radar purely because of the transition to Ford. … I don’t think there’s a driver more mentally savvy, mentally tough than Kevin Harvick when it comes to Miami.”

Front Row Motorsports adds Michael McDowell, expands technical alliance with Roush Fenway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Front Row Motorsports will field entries for David Ragan and Michael McDowell in 2018 while expanding its technical alliance with Roush Fenway Racing, the team announced Thursday.

McDowell joins the Bob Jenkins-owned team after four years of driving the No. 95 Chevrolet for Leavine Family Racing before being replaced by Kasey Kahne.

The native of Phoenix, Arizona, replaces Landon Cassill as Ragan’s teammate.

McDowell, 32, has 249 Cup starts since 2008, but only two full-time seasons under his belt. He made one start for Front Row at Watkins Glen in 2013.

“Since I first drove for Bob at Watkins Glen, we’ve kept in touch and have felt like there might be an opportunity to work together again, and the timing worked out perfectly,” McDowell said in a press release. “It’s been a while since I’ve had a teammate, so I’m really looking forward to working with David, whom I’ve become pretty good friends with over the years. As a team now, we go into the season knowing we have five or six races that put us in position to get a win and earn a spot in the playoffs.”

Ragan returns to Front Row for his fifth season with the team. Ragan earned the organization its first Cup victory in 2013 at Talladega. Ragan has two wins, 15 top fives and 39 top-10 finishes in his Cup career.

“Bob Jenkins and I have developed a good relationship over the years, both professionally and personally,” Ragan said in a press release. “I believe in this team and am proud to have been part of its growth and its successes. I’m excited that Bob and Ford have agreed to take the program to the next level, and I’m happy I’ll be here to help the team continue to grow.”

Crew chief assignments have not been finalized. FRM will announce sponsor partners and driver car numbers at a later date.

 and on Facebook

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s ‘Last Ride’ diecast is Lionel Racing’s bestselling ever

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has set a new benchmark for Lionel Racing’s most purchased diecast in its 25-year history.

Lionel Racing, NASCAR’s official diecast producer, has announced that the diecast of Earnhardt’s “Last Ride” No. 88 Chevrolet in the Cup season finale last month is now its bestselling diecast in company history.

The “Last Ride” car is based on the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet that Earnhardt drove in his rookie Cup season in 2000.

The previous bestseller was another Earnhardt diecast, for his 2014 Daytona 500 win.

Lionel Racing says that QVC’s “For Race Fans Only” show that featured Earnhardt and unveiled the car helped contribute to sales. But even without QVC, sales of the “Last Ride” diecast outpaced the 2014 Daytona 500 diecast by more than 10,000 units.

“The demand for this car has been simply astounding,” Lionel Racing President Howard Hitchcock said on the company’s website. “The fan response to this diecast is a true measure of how much Earnhardt has meant to both casual NASCAR fans and serious diecast collectors.”

Lionel Racing has also revealed the top-10 selling diecasts for the year, which you can find below. Earnhardt has six cars on the list. Chase Elliott has two and Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney each have one.

Casey Mears likely to split 2018 between NASCAR, Global Rallycross and Stadium Super Trucks

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Casey Mears still plans to compete part-time in NASCAR in 2018, but he’s also looking to expand his racing horizons.

The veteran NASCAR driver told The Checkered Flag recently that he also expects to race in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series, as well as Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks series.

“Right now I’m talking to a few NASCAR programs to do maybe limited stuff,” Mears told The Checkered Flag. “I don’t have anything that would be a full-time ride in a NASCAR series.

“I’ve been speaking with Robby Gordon in the Stadium Super Truck program. I think that’s a really cool up-and-coming-series and I’d definitely like to be involved with the GRC. It looks like a lot of fun.

“I think there’s enough difference between all those that it could leave room for doing a bit of both so we’ll see how it works out.”

Mears did not race in the Cup Series in 2017, having lost his ride at the end of 2016 to Ty Dillon in the No. 13 Geico Chevy. He has amassed 488 starts and one win (2007 Coca-Cola 600) in his Cup career, along with 13 top fives and 51 top 10s.

However, he did compete on a part-time basis in 2017 in the Xfinity Series, making 14 starts, with season-best finishes of ninth place at both Richmond and Road America. He also has 107 Xfinity starts with one win, 16 top fives and 34 top 10s.

Make donation to Martinsville toy drive to take laps around track

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Have you ever dreamed of making a lap around the oldest track in NASCAR?

Today and tomorrow, Martinsville Speedway is making that dream come true.

With a toy or monetary donation for the Grace Network of Martinsville and Henry County, you can drive your own car around the half-mile track in Martinsville, Virginia.

A $10 donation gets you five laps and $20 gets you 10 laps.

The laps are being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET today and Friday.