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.”
When it comes to all the different road courses on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, where does the Roval stack up for you?
“The Roval’s been really good for us, and the road courses, in general, have been surprisingly good, as long as they’re dry. Joey Hand has played a huge part in helping us kind of guide the road-racing program. It’s helped me tremendously. I’ve been a lot better under braking, and a lot of that comes from confidence in the car, and that’s really been my weak point at the high-braking racetracks. The Roval’s not really one of those places, it’s more like Sonoma, so it’s been a really good place and I’m looking forward to going back there and continuing that trend.”
What do you like about the Roval?
“The Roval has really evolved into being one of our better racetracks. It’s very similar to Sonoma with a lot of partial throttle and light braking and a place that we’ve always been able to run really well at. I think the Roval isn’t a typical, well-laid-out racetrack. It’s more of a parking lot. It’s not as much of a parking lot as Indy, as it does have a lot of elevation changes and things like that, but it’s got some unique corners that aren’t your typical, free-flowing, nicely laid-out, natural road-course-type corners. I think the Roval has been intense and exciting over the last several years, and I think this car is going to be a little bit different just because it’s more of a road-course-style vehicle than we’ve driven there in the past. The Roval is aggressive with some of those tough, aggressive passes into some of those braking zones and some of those odd corners. It’s another of those racetracks that has its own characteristics.”
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.”
How do you approach road-course weekends?
“There’s just a lot more time that goes into a road-race week. You have to spend a lot of time in the simulator. You have to spend a lot of time with your previous notes and make sure you have the shift points and all the things that you remember as far as curbs you need to hit and things you don’t need to hit, where you need to be on the racetrack, tire falloff. You have to have everything memorized before you get there so that the first few laps are valuable because you’re still going to be learning the real-life tolerances of the grip level. And you’re going to have to blend that into also trying to do it in a short amount of time and get something out of those practices to give some feedback about the cars. It’s a different preparation week for the road courses than it is for anything else.”
A race weekend at Charlotte allows the industry to work close to home. You’re taking advantage of that by having a golf tournament on Monday that benefits your foundation. What does the Kevin Harvick Foundation do?
“The Kevin Harvick Foundation does a wide variety of things. We’ve gone in and rebuilt fields and areas behind Boys and Girls Clubs and high schools. The most recent project we’ve worked on is with the Charlotte Police Athletic League near our home in North Carolina. We’ve gone in and put a room with some racing simulators, and have helped them try to progress their basketball program. It’s a number of things we do like that throughout the year, and our charity golf tournament in Charlotte is one of our fundraisers.”
How satisfying is it to see success like that off the racetrack?
“There’s nothing better than helping kids, and I enjoy the kids who come to the racetrack. You can see the real enthusiasm for being at the race and how intrigued they are with everything that’s going on. Being able to give kids an opportunity that they otherwise wouldn’t have had is always something that we strive to do but, in the end, it’s the ones who take advantage of it to change the direction of what they want to do. Being able to have a platform to do that is very rewarding.”