America's Night Race will serve as 'Last Call' for Kevin Harvick at iconic Bristol Motor Speedway
Kevin Harvick has no time for being sentimental. Put the box of tissues away for now. He and his No. 4 Busch Light Stewart-Haas Racing team have work to do as they roll into Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend to complete the Round of 16 Playoffs in the NASCAR Cup Series. This is Harvick’s record 17th trip to the NASCAR postseason, a mark he shares with challenger Denny Hamlin.
Harvick has been getting going-away presents all season long as he visits tracks for the final time in his final season as a full-time driver in the Cup Series. The same will happen at BMS next weekend too, but as one of the top 16 qualifiers after a pretty consistent season where he earned 12 top-10 finishes, Harvick is after an even bigger prize: a second NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy to go with the one he earned in 2014.
Harvick has been one of the best at Bristol. He has earned three Cup Series victories on Bristol’s concrete high banks, including two in the iconic Night Race. He’s one of only five drivers in history to have wins at Bristol in all three of NASCAR’s major touring series, joining a special list that includes Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Mark Martin.
As a tribute to his greatness at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, he is on the cover of the souvenir program for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET, USA Network and PRN Radio) on Saturday night, Sept. 16. The race is the first elimination race in the Cup Playoffs, where four drivers will be eliminated when the checkered flag waves after 500 grueling laps. Harvick is hoping he isn’t one of those four. He would like to extend his “Last Call” for as long as he can. Hopefully, all the way to Phoenix.
There is an awesome cover feature story in the program written by veteran NASCAR reporter Lee Spencer that highlights Harvick’s time at Bristol.
The Bakersfield, California native tells Spencer he is anticipating another thrill ride at Bristol when they turn on the lights over the .533-mile bullring that’s been called the “Holy Grail of Short Tracks.”
“Bristol, the Night Race, especially, is a place that just has a special feel,” Harvick said. “Being a part of that event for a long time just gets you jacked up as a driver. It’s just a very intense place to race. It’s an intense place just to make laps, honestly.”
Spencer also asked Harvick’s longtime crew chief Rodney Childers what makes Harvick so good on the ultra-challenging track, which can often give drivers plenty of fits and ultimately lead to carnage and mayhem, especially when Playoff scenarios are in play.
“He’s just so disciplined there,” Childers said. “He always hits his marks. He can do the same thing every single lap. He can pinpoint certain characteristics of the race track—cracks and crevices. He’ll run 30 laps in practice and tell you every blemish, where you have to run, where you have to hit this tire. A lot of guys just go out there, run as hard as they can and don’t pay attention to anything. He pays attention and is very detailed.”
In addition to his three Cup wins at Bristol, Harvick has scored five Xfinity Series wins and also one Craftsman Truck Series win.
If he can finish with one more win at Bristol it would provide a satisfying spark to his team during his final Playoff run. Given his recent history at the Night Race, he’s definitely one of the leading contenders.
“It’s been a good track for us,” said Harvick, who plans to join the FOX team in the television booth as a race analyst next season.
“Obviously, it’s changed through the years,” he continued. “For me, I stayed consistently good. I wish one wasn’t dirt. But it’s been a good track for us to score some good results on. Looking forward to going there. The Night Race is always intense—and I expect it to be the same way.”
The Bristol race weekend also includes the return of Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Bristol’s high banks in the Food City 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Friday night, Sept. 15 (7:30 p.m., USA Network and PRN Radio). The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will get the fun started on Thursday night, Sept. 14, with the running of the UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics (9 p.m., FS1 and MRN Radio). The ARCA Menards Series will open Thursday’s racing to make it a doubleheader night with the Bush’s Beans 200 (6 p.m., FS1 and MRN Radio).
Off the track there’s tons to do during your Bristol visit with lots of activities available in the BMS Fan Zone and BMS Fan Midway. Kenny Wallace and John Roberts will host Trackside Live at the Food City Fan Zone Stage on Saturday at 4 p.m. where drivers and other newsmakers will be interviewed. Country music band Midland will perform the pre-race concert Saturday at 5:30 p.m. to get the fans revved up for the traditional driver introductions, where each driver enters to a favorite song or music. There will be post-race entertainment on Thursday and Friday, as DJ Sterl the Pearl will host the world-famous Foam Party after the Thursday night double-header, and country music singer Tim Dugger will perform after Friday night’s Food City 300.
To purchase tickets, visit the Bristol Motor Speedway website or call (866) 415-4158.