ALLEN, Texas (October 18, 2018) — The following is an event recap with photo and video links from the “Teed Off” with Kevin Harvick special event that was held Thursday at Topgolf in Allen, Texas to promote the AAA Texas 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race on Sunday, Nov. 4, at Texas Motor Speedway.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Contender Kevin Harvick is well accustomed to long drives, making wedge adjustments and the occasional bump and run for the win.
On Thursday, however, Harvick’s set-up was quite a bit different. The 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion displayed his passion for golf among the nearly 100 corporate guests, media, Speedway Club members, three social media promotional winners, Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage and a surprise guest in former LPGA Tour star Kelli Kuehne that were on hand for the event at Topgolf venue in Allen, Texas.
The visit, which was to promote the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Playoffs tripleheader Nov. 1-4 at Texas Motor Speedway, was an interactive experience for the guests as Harvick took on various guests in the Topgolf challenges throughout the day and rewarded the winners with signed Justin cowboy hats.
Among the competitors were three fans that were selected through a social media promotion, including one that flew in not once but twice from Arlington, Virginia. Kenny Simmons, a Texas Motor Speedway season ticketholder with family still in the area, took a flight into Dallas/Fort Worth last week, but the event was canceled as Harvick’s travel plans from North Carolina were impacted by Hurricane Michael.
Simmons, who is a huge Harvick fan, couldn’t pass on the opportunity to take on his NASCAR hero in golf and spend some quality time around him at the event.
Halloween may still be a few weeks away, but Texas Motor Speedway looked to play a trick on Harvick that actually turned out to be a treat.
Harvick was asked to select a name out of a red box for the first corporate guest he would compete against in a Topgolf challenge. He happened to pull out Kelli K., which unbeknownst to him was the name on every card in the box and happened to be former LPGA Tour star Kelli Kuehne.
Kelli K. said she was pretty good in high school at Highland Park in Dallas, but didn’t play much anymore. She grabbed a Topgolf club and proceeded to flub a few shots with Harvick thinking he may have an easy prey for his first match.
Kuehne, who played on the LPGA Tour for 12 years before retiring in 2010, then asked if it was okay for her to grab some female clubs for the competition. Kuehne’s Tour bag with her name on the side was brought over and that elicited some chuckles from Harvick. He was impressed that “she actually had to practice to hit bad shots.”
Harvick showed off some game in the competition, besting Kuehne, now serving as a teaching pro and had not played a full round in 11 months, in the opening match. She bounced back in the rematch as Harvick expected, topping her and WFAA-8 sports anchor Joe Trahan.
“I have never hit balls against a NASCAR driver in my life,” said Kuehne, who was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. “It was super-fun. I’m so far removed from competition – I retired in 2010 – but I got a little bit (angry) when I lost the first go-around (with Kevin). So second go-around I knew I had to bring my A-game, but it was a really fun experience and fun to see Kevin outside of his environment at the track and get to kind of see a different side of him outside of his arena.”
Added Harvick: “I’m never caught off-guard by any Texas Motor Speedway event I go to because I never know what Eddie (Gossage) has up his sleeve. I was caught off-guard a little with Kelli and her showing up to golf. I got lucky and ended up winning that round of golf – I think that was the only one I won today – but there’s never a bad day when you can put a golf club in your hand. Today is one of those days at an event where you can combine the fans, the sponsors and the media to just come have a cool afternoon. I had a lot of fun.”
One would assume that Texas Motor Speedway was an exasperating 1.5-mile oval given that Harvick finally snapped a 0-for-29 winless streak at the Fort Worth venue with a victory in last November’s AAA Texas 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 Playoff race.
Quite the contrary.
Since the 2014 AAA Texas 500, Harvick actually has reeled off eight consecutive top-10 finishes, including all but two among the top six. That run is highlighted by last year’s win and three runner-up finishes, including as recent as April’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 where he was second to Kyle Busch.
In 31 career starts, he ranks tied for second all-time among Cup drivers with 19 top-10 finishes and tied for fourth in the speedway history books for top-five finishes with nine.
The AAA Texas 500 win provided Harvick with an automatic berth in the Championship 4 last year and could prove pivotal to him once again in this season’s NASCAR Playoffs.
“I think our chances to win are good,” said Harvick on his chances of winning the AAA Texas 500 in back-to-back seasons. “This has been a really good race track for us on the old style, and since the repave (in 2017) it’s been good as well. As we came here the first part of the season to the spring race, we led a bunch of laps, ran up front, and did everything we needed to do to win, and in the end didn’t. We wound up finishing second, so our goal is to win. It’s been a great track for us, and that’s the expectation coming back.”
Harvick had a re-creation of the Par-3, 12th hole at the famed Augusta National – home of The Masters – build in the backyard of his Charlotte home. The playable replica is a shortened version of the 155-yard hole known as “Golden Bell” and also includes Rae’s Creek, the Hogan Bridge and of course, azaleas.
“It’s kind of a replica,” Harvick said. “We have about a 50-yard hole in the backyard that was kind of designed around (No.) 12 at Augusta – not an exact replica, but it looks like it enough. It’s where my son learned how to ride his bike, play baseball back there, play golf. We spend a lot of time hitting golf balls back there and relaxing and having fun. We have one tee box that’s 30 yards away and one that’s 50 yards away. We have a good time with it.”
What They Are Saying
“Well, I hope not. If we can blow a 63-point lead, we’ve had a major catastrophe this week, but anything is possible. You know, as you look at the Playoffs for us, our guys have done a great job in making and showing up with fast cars and doing everything we need to do. We’ve not been able to close out the races, we’ve won a bunch of stages and finished first, second or third – I think seven out of the first 10 stages. Just haven’t been able to get the finishes with all of the circumstances that we have been battling through. That’s why we’ve raced hard every lap all year to try and win every stage, win as many races as possible, do everything we can to have that cushion to lean on.” – Harvick when asked if he has any concerns heading into Sunday’s Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.
“It’s hard to put a whole day together and when you don’t, somebody else will and everything will go their way and that’s what we’ve seen as we’ve gone to the Playoffs. Look at Dover, I think Chase (Elliott) was a sixth- to eighth-place car, wound up winning the race by not doing anything wrong, putting himself in position and capitalizing on everybody else’s mistakes. That’s the way it goes and I’ve been around this long enough to know that it’s one week at a time. You never know what’s going to happen next, so you just have to adapt to the next week and do the same thing over again.” – Harvick on the unpredictability in this season’s NASCAR Playoffs.
“It’s a different level of competition when you get to the Playoffs, during this portion of the year. I think as you look at the Playoff board, I don’t think everybody would have thought that it would have shaken out to look like it does right now. I think when you look on the outside and you see the 2 car that I think a lot of people, which is Brad Keslowski, I think a lot of people would have said you know that’s the one that they would vote for as being the fourth car. They’re really fighting for their life as we go into this weekend at Kansas and needing to win a race in order to move on. Two weeks ago, Ryan Blaney was on top of the world winning the race, so you just never know. It can turn in a heartbeat on you, whether that’s good or bad, it can go either way.” – Harvick when asked who were the drivers that were the biggest threat to the “Big 3” of Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and him advancing to the Championship 4.
“Having Aric (Almirola) win last week (at Talladega) was not only great for him but great for the organization, to get all four cars into Victory Lane this year and see the preparation and everything that everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing has put together and put on the race track this year is really a lot of fun to be a part of. We’ll just keep plugging away and it’s like I tell everybody this time of year doesn’t matter if it’s ugly or pretty, just survive and advance – and that’s what we’re doing.” -Harvick on the success of the Stewart-Haas Racing organization, which currently has all four cars in the NASCAR Playoffs.
“He didn’t seem very happy to be honest. I thought he’d get out of the car and want to chest bump with me or something, which would be great television – but he just kind of, you know, I think he’s won too many races. But regardless, he just got tired of hearing ‘hey you know we do open Victory Lane on Sundays, too.’ I was glad to see him win. I was very proud of him and it was the day we did the bobblehead of Kevin Harvick as well.” – Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage after visiting with Kevin Harvick in Victory Lane after he won the AAA Texas 500 to break an 0-for-29 drought at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I have some thoughts about this weekend because you were just talking about Keselowski and Blaney being on top of the world, okay? So here’s the deal: Kansas is a cut-off race and so you know, only eight advance of course to the Round of 8 which we’re apart of. But I’ve been looking at it and looking at how these guys run and I’m here to tell you that I think any one of the drivers that are currently ninth to 12th, I’m confident that one of them is going to win the race in Kansas this weekend. Keselowski, Blaney, Larson, Bowman. One of those guys will win this weekend at Kansas. If they don’t win, I will buy everybody a Slurpee at 7-Eleven. True story. You get a Slurpee. You get a Slurpee. You get a Slurpee. You get a Slurpee. You get a Slurpee. You get a Slurpee. Kevin Harvick gets a Slurpee.” – Gossage’s Slurpee bet to Harvick and on-site media given the convenience store giant is building a store on the speedway property that opens for the AAA Texas 500 race week.
“I think Kevin’s golf game is good. His replica of number 12 (at Augusta National) at his house definitely helps his wedge game. … He’s very agile and he actually has really good technique, so it’s fun to watch him hit balls and he hit a lot of really good ones.”- Kuehne on Harvick’s golf game.
“I have seen some crossover situations. It’s interesting, the backgrounds you get. We had Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy and Brandy Chastain. There’s been a lot of soccer players, and back in the day they used to play and participate in the LPGA Tour. We had a lot of basketball players be a part of Kristie Kerr’s Birdies for Breast Cancer event. Also, (baseball Hall of Famer) Mike Piazza. So it’s been fun because all athletes seem to be obsessed with golf because it’s really hard. And even after playing for 25 years, I came out today and half the shots were really good and the other half were not so hot. I think that’s one thing that appeals to people with golf because you can’t outmuscle it, you can’t outsmart it, you just have to roll with it.” – Kuehne on watching pro athletes cross over to the game of golf.
“I like the game because it’s challenging. One day you can shoot 80 and the next day you could show up and shoot 100. It’s a game that’s ever evolving.”- Harvick on his passion for the game.