By taking the checkered flag in the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Speedway Saturday night, Kevin Harvick became the first driver of the season with more than one win. He also became the first NASCAR Sprint Cup driver to win from pole position at Darlington since Dale Jarrett in 1997. In his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick won the 2014 The Profit on CNBC500, the second race of the season. This early-season victory was followed by a number of misfortunes for Harvick, include a hub failure at Las Vegas resulting in a 41st place finish; a cut oil line at Bristol resulting in a 39th place finish; a blown tire at Fontana resulting in a 36th place finish; and an engine failure at Texas resulting in a 42nd place finish.
While Harvick started the race in pole position, his win certainly wasn’t a done deal. After the 258th lap caution, Harvick reportedly decided to get four new tires on his next pit stop. Other drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson took two, giving them a slight time advantage which dropped Harvick to fifth position. By the time Kurt Busch wrecked on the 369th lap, resulting in another caution, Harvick had maneuvered his way into second position. Then, passing Earnhardt on the green-white-checker flag, Harvick held his first place position to the finish line, and it appears very likely that his decision to take four tires when he did helped him to victory.
With the new scoring structure, where ultimately victories have more value than points, Harvick is in the lead for a place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Jeff Gordon is in the lead with points, but remains eighth in the standings as he has not yet scored a win. The minimum requirement to qualify for the Chase is one trip to Victory Lane, so two such trips has a clear advantage for Harvick.
2014 Sprint Cup standings according to victories and points thus far (in order) are Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch. The next NASCAR Sprint Cup race is the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, April 26.
Owned by Gene Haas and Tony Stewart, and based in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Stewart Haas Racing is a NASCAR Sprint Cup race team, running the #14 Office Depot Chevrolet Impala, driven by Tony Stewart, as well as the #39 United States Army Chevrolet Impala, driven by Ryan Newman. Technical support is supplied to the team by Hendrick Motorsports – also a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor. As the name would suggest, the primary sponsor for the #14 car is Office Depot, with additional sponsorship provided by Old Spice and Burger King. The #39 car is sponsored by the US Army, Tornados and Haas Automation.
Gene Haas is the founder and sole owner of Haas Automation, the largest machine tool manufacturer in the US. He was also the founder of the NASCAR race team, Haas CNC Racing, back in 2002. Working as a single car team, Haas CNC Racing entered the Nextel Cup (the predecessor of the Sprint Cup), with the team’s first race taking place on September 30, 2002. The team’s driver at the time was Jack Sprague, and he finished 35th after being involved in a crash during the race. After racing sporadically in the following years, the team moved to Kannapolis in 2006 and started fielding a second car, making its presence known on the NASCAR scene.
In late 2008 it was announced that Haas CNC Racing would join forces with Tony Stewart to form Stewart-Haas Racing, and this took place in January 2009. Tony Stewart notched up the first win for the new team in May 2009, when he took first place in the All-Star race. With an impressive list of achievements, Tony Stewart has been referred to as “one of the finest racers of his generation” in an article appearing in the New York Times in 2008. By March 2010, Stewart had competed in 40 races, with four wins, 15 top-fives, 25 top-tens and one DNF.
The second driver in the team, Ryan Newman, is certainly not short on talent having achieved 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup wins in his racing career, as well as having 7 Nationwide Series wins and one Camping World Truck Series win. With a degree in vehicle structure engineering, and his hobbies including driving and working on vintage cars, Newman is certainly dedicated to the exciting world of auto racing. Fans will no doubt be watching with keen interest as Stewart-Haas Racing tackles the 2010 season, their second as a team.
Eighteen-year-old racing phenomenon Joey Logano is about to take one of the biggest steps of his career – racing in the 2009 Sprint Cup Series in the No. 20 Home Depot Camry as part of the Joe Gibbs Racing team. Logano is already quite used to racing with people who are much older than he is and he is looking forward to the challenge.
In a way the move is the climax of a dream he had when he was just a child. In 1997, at just seven years of age when he was dominating Quarter Midget races, Logano said that his dream was to one day race regularly against Jeff Gordon who was his favorite driver at the time. That dream will officially become a reality as of 2009.
Logano has come a long way since his early childhood days of racing. By the time he was just eight years of age, he was competing against kids that were sixteen and up in Quarter Midget racing. When he was 9, he set a new record by becoming the youngest driver to compete in Legends Car racing. As if that wasn’t enough, Logano went on to race professionally against adults and driving full-size Late Models by the time he was twelve. Then, at fifteen, he won his second USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series. Shortly after that, Joe Gibbs Racing won the bidding war that allowed them to sign up the youngster with their team. They have since been grooming him for success and feel that he is now ready to tackle the Sprint Cup Series.
Since turning 18 in May earlier this year, Logano has been competing in NASCAR’s second tier Nationwide Series. The move has given him the perfect preparation to now join the Sprint Cup team. And the timing couldn’t be better: Tony Stewart in leaving Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season to become an owner/driver with Stewart-Haas Racing. The move provided an opening that Joey Logano will fill and the youngster is already looking forward to it. Commenting on the change, Logano said: “It’s a dream come true. I couldn’t really ask for anything better.” He also remarked that he was “cool with pressure” and felt that he could handle the increase in pressure that he was sure he would experience in his new role.