Kevin Harvick Enters TD Banknorth 250
Cup Drivers Has Family Ties to Oxford Classic
Kevin Harvick (NASCAR Photo)
Kevin Harvick is stock car racing’s equivalent of a big-game quarterback. Consider the 2007 season, when Harvick swept the season-opening Daytona 500 and Orbitz 300 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Three months later, with another million-dollar jackpot sitting on the table, Harvick scored his first-ever victory in the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Harvick also is part of a new NASCAR generation that pledges its allegiance to racing anything, anywhere, at any time. Pull all those clues together and it’s no surprise that Harvick has announced his entry into the 2008 TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway.
The 35th annual short track extravaganza is set for Sunday, July 20. It is again an off-weekend for NASCAR’s premier series, ensuring that at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup driver will enter the TD Banknorth 250 for the fifth consecutive year.
“I was delighted when Kevin contacted us about competing in the TD Banknorth 250,” said OPS owner Bill Ryan. “When you look at the last four events, the bar was set extremely high with champions such as Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Terry Labonte and a future champion like Kyle Busch choosing to compete at Oxford. Kevin is a tremendous addition to that list and an immediate threat to win the race.”
Harvick, 32, has accumulated an amazing list of accomplishments in his relatively young NASCAR career, including a combined five championships as a driver and team co-owner.
Even the most casual fans know Harvick for his victories in two of the most dramatic finishes in NASCAR Sprint Cup history. Last February, Harvick rallied from deep in the
field to edge Mark Martin by little more than the length of a fender and win the Daytona 500.
That performance recalled an emotional victory seven years earlier at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway. In only his third Cup start, steering a car formerly driven by the late, seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt, Harvick defeated Jeff Gordon in a photo finish.
Harvick has also won one of the sport's biggest races in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2003.
Harvick is the 2006 and 2001 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion. In 2007, he expanded his horizons by collecting a title as a team co-owner along with his wife, DeLana, when Ron Hornaday directed his Kevin Harvick Inc., ride to the Truck Series championship.
So, with all those accomplishments on Harvick’s résumé, why the TD Banknorth 250 on what otherwise would be an off weekend?
The TD Banknorth 250 attracts quite a crowd to Oxford every season. (51 Photo)
That live-to-race mentality mentioned earlier is part of the story, but there is also a measure of family tradition involved. Harvick’s late father-in-law, John Linville, unsuccessfully attempted to qualify at Oxford on several occasions in the 1980s, when he was a mainstay during the early years of the Nationwide Series.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things about Oxford Plains Speedway,” Harvick said. “From all the stories I heard about last year’s race, I can only imagine what this years has in store. When it is all said and done, I would like to tell people that I not only made the show, but won the race."
Harvick will add his name to a list of more than 40 drivers who have competed in both the Cup series and the TD Banknorth 250.
He also creates a milestone by becoming the 10th Daytona 500 winner to participate, joining a who’s-who of the sport that features Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett, Ernie Irvan, Geoff Bodine, Davey Allison, Ward Burton and Dwayne “Tiny” Lund. Those drivers have combined for 11 Cup championships. Bodine was the first driver to win multiple TD Banknorth 250 titles, achieving that status back-to-back in 1980 and 1981.
“The history of this race is staggering, and having Kevin Harvick enter the 2008 event writes another amazing chapter six months ahead of time,” said Ryan. “With Kevin Harvick, the fans in our region get an opportunity to see a driver who has been a Chase for the Championship contender and someone who has won most of the major races in the sport. But there are so many unique variables involved in a TD Banknorth 250 that it will be fun to see if Kevin can pull it off.”
Car and sponsorship details for Harvick’s entry in the prestigious, lucrative late model race are to be announced.