Friday, Feb 03

Mobil 1 Racing: Kevin Harvick Charlotte Roval Advance

Notes of Interest

 

●  Kevin Harvick is sporting a fan-chosen paint scheme on his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang during the Bank of America Roval 400 Sunday at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval. The imposing black-and-white design garnered 61.5 percent of the votes across Stewart-Haas Racing’s social media channels.

 

●  Turning left and right. Going up and down through the gears. Hitting the apex of corners and, sometimes, riding the curb with such force that it puts the car on two wheels. It’s all a part of road-course racing, and it demands maximum performance from every part and piece on the racecar. Harvick has an added advantage with Mobil 1. Not only is the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand the primary sponsor of his No. 4 Ford Mustang at the Roval, 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.

 

●  Harvick comes into the Roval on a five-race top-10 streak, a run punctuated by a strong second-place drive Sept. 18 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway where he led three times for 71 laps. Before finishing second at Bristol, Harvick finished eighth Sept. 11 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway and fifth Sept. 4 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. He finished ninth Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and eighth in his most recent outing Monday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, where Harvick led five times for a race-high 16 laps.

 

●  Harvick has scored 21 top-10s in the 31 races run this season, second-most among NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Only Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin (22 top-10s apiece) are ahead of Harvick in this category.

 

●  Harvick is currently ninth in the NASCAR Playoff standings, nine points below the cutline with only the Bank of America Roval 400 remaining before the current 12-driver playoff field is whittled down to eight. Harvick is in the midst of his 12th consecutive playoff appearance and his 15th overall. He has advanced into the Round of 12 in all eight editions of the current playoff format and, coming into this season, he had advanced all the way to the Round of 8 since 2014. Five times he’s competed in the Championship 4, winning the title in 2014.

 

●  The Bank of America Roval 400 is the final road-course race of the season, culminating a ground-breaking seven races to be held on road courses in 2021. From 1988 to 2017, there were only two road courses on the schedule – Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The Roval was added in 2018, giving the series just three road-course venues. The initial 2021 schedule doubled that tally with Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course all being added. And when COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of the series’ planned stop earlier this year at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, the road course at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway was put in its place, serving as the series’ second race of 2021.

 

●  Harvick has made a total of 48 NASCAR Cup Series starts on road courses. He has 20 starts at Sonoma, 20 at Watkins Glen, three at the Roval, two on the Daytona road course and one apiece at COTA, Road America and the Indianapolis road course. He has scored two wins – Watkins Glen in 2006 and Sonoma in 2017 – along with 10 top-fives and 24 top-10s with 195 laps led.

 

●  In three career NASCAR Cup Series starts at the Roval, Harvick has never finished lower than 11th. His best result came in 2019 when he led twice for 34 laps on his way to a third-place finish.

 

●  When Harvick scored his first road-course victory at Watkins Glen in 2006, he had to beat his current team owner to do it. Tony Stewart – the “Stewart” in Stewart-Haas Racing – had won the past two NASCAR Cup Series races at the seven-turn, 2.45-mile road course and was poised to capture a third straight win as he was leading Harvick with four laps to go in the 90-lap race. But Harvick, who had already led once for 24 laps, passed Stewart on lap 87 as the two drag-raced down the frontstretch and into turn one. Harvick held onto the lead despite Stewart in his rearview mirror, earning a margin of victory of .892 of a second.

 

●  Harvick’s second career road-course win also had a connection to Stewart. When Harvick won at Sonoma in 2017, he gave Stewart-Haas Racing its second straight victory at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course. The winner in 2016? None other than Stewart. It ended up being his 49th and final NASCAR Cup Series victory as Stewart retired from NASCAR racing at the conclusion of the season.

 

●  Harvick’s last road-course win was his first in a Ford. When Harvick won at Sonoma in 2017, he became the 83rd different driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race behind the wheel of a Ford. Harvick has now won 23 Cup Series races with Ford, which makes him one of only 13 drivers to win 20 or more races with the manufacturer. He is currently tied with Rusty Wallace and Carl Edwards for 11th on the all-time Ford win list.

 

●  Harvick has four road-course wins outside of the NASCAR Cup Series. Two came in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2007 and Watkins Glen in 2007 – and two were in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West – Sonoma in 1998 and Sonoma in 2017. Harvick’s K&N Series win at Sonoma in 1998 was three years before his Cup Series debut on Feb. 26, 2001 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham.

 

Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang 

 

When it comes to road-course racing, do you feel that more of the race is in your hands?

“You do have more in your hands, for sure, especially when it comes to shifting and all the different things that could happen. But strategy and track position are a big part of that element too. It’s just like anything else, you’ve got to have the whole piece of the puzzle to put it all together.”

 

The Roval serves as a playoff cutoff race, with the field of 12 playoff drivers getting whittled down to eight. You’re still in the mix to advance to the Round of 8 – is that a testament to the work you and this Mobil 1 team have put in all season long?

“My team’s done a good job all year. We’ve had a lot of weeks where we’ve walked out of these tracks with a sixth-, seventh-, eighth-place finish. Our team itself has done a great job. We just needed to do a better job getting faster cars and sometimes that’s just not in the cards. You just have to plug away and take what you can get out of it and try to make the least amount of mistakes, and that’s the part our team has done well. We’ve gotten a lot of decent finishes throughout the year, and that just comes from experience. You dot the I’s and cross the T’s and, really, that’s what it all comes down to. We’ve lost a lot of races with fast cars and we’ve won some races with slow cars – you grind away and you just keep yourself in there and see where it all shakes out. Sometimes it’s in the car to win and sometimes it’s not, you just never know so you just grind away every lap.”

 

Do you feel that you and the team have gotten better as the playoffs started?

“We had a really fast car at Michigan – it got torn up at the end, but it took us half the race to get the balance right. The cars are fine. It’s just the balance of the racecars where we just wind up off at the beginning of the race one way or the other, and it takes you half the race to get the balance right. There’s nothing wrong with the racecars, it’s just when you plug everything in and you don’t figure out in practice that you’re way off so you can say, ‘I don’t need a little bit, I need a lot.’ It’s the green flag and you’re way off and then it’s, ‘I need a good change’ and you end up needing three times that amount of change and, suddenly, you’re at the end of the first stage. That’s the reality of the situation, and you’re just going to have a tough time and hope that you get it closer.”

 

After you race at the Roval on Sunday, NASCAR has an industry-wide NextGen test at the Roval on Monday and Tuesday. You just mentioned how without practice, it’s sometimes difficult to get the current car where you want it to start the race. With the NextGen car, how important will practice be to learn an entirely new racecar?

“For me, I kind of raised my hand about three or four months ago about really trying to understand why we weren’t going to practice more with this car because it was not going to be what everybody thought it was going to be. The drivers needed time in these vehicles in order to figure out how they raced, where they raced, what the problems were, and I think the red flag went up at Daytona to say, we probably need to have more tests and things. So I think the longer weekends probably need to come in the first half of the season in order to work through some things because, right now, you don’t know how to work on the car. If you have a 20-minute practice or a 30-minute practice and you have an issue, it could take you 20 or 30 minutes to take the floor panel off the car. Having everybody have all the right things at the beginning of the year and being able to have some tests and have the drivers in the cars is really important at this point for the quality of the racing.”

 

Whether it’s a road course or a short track or any kind of track, you have an added advantage with Mobil 1 as a sponsor and technology partner. How advantageous has this relationship been?

“The oil in the engine, the oil in the transmission, the oil in the rear gear and the things Mobil 1 provides us from a lubricant standpoint, it all adds up in the form of quicker lap times. On an oval, we can pick up a tenth-and-a-half or two-tenths of a second. On a road course, Mobil 1 helps with preservation, because we beat the heck out of our racecars – hitting curbs and shifting all the time. The level of technology and commitment to the things that go in our car, every piece of it adds up to a pretty big chunk of speed and an incredible amount of reliability.”

 

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