Notes of Interest
● Kevin Harvick is a two-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600. He took the trophy in 2011 and 2013. Harvick beat David Ragan by .703 of a second in 2011 and he beat Kasey Kahne by 1.490 seconds in 2013. Harvick led only two laps in 2011 and just 28 laps in 2013, but each of those tallies contained the only lap that mattered most – the last one.
● Harvick has three wins at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval. In addition to his two Coca-Cola 600 triumphs, Harvick won the 2014 Bank of America 500 in the NASCAR Cup Series’ return to the track that October. Harvick dominated by leading a race-high 162 laps to beat four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon by .571 of a second.
● Qualifying is back for the Coca-Cola 600. Harvick has earned two poles at Charlotte – for the 2016 Bank of America 500 (27.547 seconds at 196.029 mph) and the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 (27.918 seconds at 193.424 mph).
● This year’s Coca-Cola 600 will mark Harvick’s 39th career start at Charlotte. The Bakersfield, California-native has nine top-fives and 19 top-10s in a career dating back to the 2001 Coca-Cola 600, which was Harvick’s first points-paying race at Charlotte. In that 4-hour and 20-minute affair, Harvick finished second to Jeff Burton and ahead of third-place Tony Stewart, the car owner of the No. 4 Mobil 1 team at Stewart-Haas Racing.
● Harvick has finished in the top-10 in his last three races at Charlotte and 12 times in the last 14 races at the track. DNFs (Did Not Finish) thwarted Harvick in the 2016 Bank of America 500 (engine) and the 2018 Coca-Cola 600 (accident).
● Prior to last Sunday’s race at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, when a crash sent Harvick to a 37th-place finish, Harvick had an impressive 61-race streak of finishing races. His last DNF prior to COTA was Aug. 17, 2019 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
● As part of #NASCARSalutes and the 600 Miles of Remembrance initiative during the Coca-Cola 600, the No. 4 Mobil 1 team is honoring Staff Sgt. Leroy E. Alexander, a Special Forces engineer sergeant assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. At 27, Alexander was killed in action while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom on June 3, 2005 when an enemy Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded near his Ground Mobility Vehicle during operations in the vicinity of Orgun-e, Afghanistan. A native of Dale City, Virginia, Alexander entered the Army in August 1997 and completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. After completing airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia, in April 1998, he was assigned to 27th Engineer Battalion at Fort Bragg in support of XVIII Airborne Corps. Following completion of Special Forces Assessment and Selection, Alexander arrived at the 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) in October 2002 to begin the more than two years of intense training it would take for him to become a Special Forces engineer sergeant. He was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group in June 2004. Alexander’s military education included the Basic Airborne Course, the Primary Leadership Development Course, the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course, the Special Forces Qualification Course, the Spanish Language Course, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Mountain Course. His awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the NCO Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the Air Assault Badge, and the Special Forces Tab. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. Alexander is survived by his wife, Marissa, and parents, Ronald and Felicia Alexander of Manassas, Virginia.
● The Mobil 1 branding on Harvick’s No. 4 Ford Mustang goes more than skin deep, as the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand gives Harvick an added advantage. Mobil 1 products are used throughout his racecar and they extend beyond just engine oil. Power steering fluid, transmission fluid, gear oil and driveline lubricants from Mobil 1 give Harvick a technical advantage over his counterparts by reducing friction, heat and rolling resistance.Mobil 1 is a sponsor whose technology makes Harvick’s No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang faster.
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang
In many ways, the Coca-Cola 600 weekend can be called a throwback weekend because there will be practice and qualifying. How does that change the complexion of that event for you?
“With where we are with our cars right now, I think practice is definitely going to be something that will allow us to at least try a couple of things and have some direction before we start to race, because we’ve started every race, for the most part, not close to where we need to be. We spend the whole race trying to get ourselves in a position to be better and never get it to a point where it’s good. Being able to try a couple of things and have some sort of idea of where you need to be from a balance standpoint before the race starts is going to be a benefit for us.”
Much is made about the Coca-Cola 600 being the series’ longest race. Because the race is so long, can it be a good thing where if you’re not where you want to be, you have time to make things right? Or is the other side of the coin being that it’s too long of a race to not be good?
“There’s just not a lot of room for error because somebody’s going to be good and you’ve got to put yourself in a position to stay on the lead lap. There are so many different areas of transition that you go through in that race because of the fact that the sun goes down after it starts hot and slick. Then as you transition into the night, you have to have something completely different in your car compared to what you had at the beginning of the race. So there’s a sacrifice you have to make at the beginning of the race to just basically try to keep yourself in a good position. Don’t make any mistakes, stay on the lead lap, and try and put yourself in a good position for the night because that’s when it really counts.”
Attrition used to be a driver’s biggest foe in the Coca-Cola 600, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Why?
“I think the cars and the parts and the pieces have all become so good. We run the engines three races before we can rebuild them, so the engine is just not as questionable as it used to be because of the fact the engine builders are really good and all the parts and pieces and lubricants have just become so much better. It is still a long race. There are a lot of things that come into play in that race because you add that extra 100 miles, so there will be a temperature change of what’s acceptable with the engine as far as how many laps you can practice – there’s not going to be that much practice anyway, so you’re not going to be able to reach that limit. But that extra 100 miles still does make a difference.”
NASCAR’s rulebook makes teams operate in a pretty small box. When it comes to a momentum track like Charlotte, how important is Mobil 1’s technology in the overall efficiency of your racecar, specifically in regard to reducing friction, heat and rolling resistance?
“Mobil 1 technology is a true difference maker, especially this year. There’s a development freeze on all the parts and pieces that go into the racecar as we get ready for the NextGen car in 2022. That means we have to maximize what we’ve got. Efficiency equals speed. The less friction, the less rolling resistance, the faster you’ll go. From the synthetic oil in the engine to all the lubricants throughout the car, it all adds up to a more efficient racecar, and that shows up on the stopwatch.”
What does it mean to honor and remember a military member on your No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford this Memorial Day weekend?
“There isn’t any sport that honors the military any better than NASCAR. I know a lot of sports do a lot of things for our military, but when you roll into this particular weekend with the Coke 600 and you’re a part of the celebration and remembrance for all the things that have happened with our military, to see the support that NASCAR and everybody in our garage gives the military, especially on this particular weekend, is something that gives you goosebumps. We’re honored to carry the name of Staff Sgt. Alexander on our car this weekend.”