In December 1991, Nintendo released Tecmo Super Bowl to a worldwide audience.
Tecmo Super Bowl was for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and included the names and attributes of the National Football League. It was based on the 1990-91 NFL season, which was 30 years ago.
The game has a cult following and is still popular with players who use emulators to play the game on other systems and computers with updated NFL teams, or even college teams. So the University of Florida Gators could be playing the Purdue University Boilermakers. Or the Brown University Bears could battle the Princeton University Tigers.
In the original NFL version, Lawrence Taylor from the New York Giants was an unstoppable defender, while Bo Jackson from the Los Angeles Raiders could not be defended, and the Buffalo Bills, led by Jim Kelly, were quite good. Tecmo had a 16-game NFL schedule and then a playoff format in which a player could lead his chosen “team” to the Super Bowl. But as the playoffs progressed, the games got more and more difficult.
For Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), he begins the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and knows, like Tecmo, the races and competition will get much more difficult.
Fortunately for Harvick, he’s led the point standings since March and has a big advantage behind a career-high nine wins and counting.
As always, he will have the help of Mobil 1 as a sponsor and partner at Las Vegas, and that relationship has paid off nicely for Harvick with those nine wins in 2020. Included in those wins was the early August doubleheader weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where with just one Ford engine in more than 90-degree air temperatures both Saturday and Sunday, he totaled 634 miles and came home with two trophies thanks to the advantage Mobil 1 technology gave him and the No. 4 team.
In the late-August doubleheader weekend at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Harvick finished fourth Saturday and won Sunday, and his engine went 622 miles with air temperatures in the 80s. Afterward, Harvick said simply, “Thank you to Mobil 1. They put a lot into the oils and lubricants in these cars and grinding to find more horsepower and less drag. It is an honor to drive for these guys.”
Harvick opened the playoffs with a win in the crown jewel Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, which is known for tearing up racecars during the Labor Day-weekend heat. It didn’t affect Harvick or his team this year as he led 32 laps en route to victory.
Mobil 1 isn’t just the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, it also provides the entire SHR team with leading lubricant technology, ensuring that all SHR Mustangs have a competitive edge over the competition on the track. In its 18th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series.
Harvick now heads to Las Vegas for Sunday’s South Point 400. Las Vegas is a place where Harvick has had a lot of success, with wins in March 2015 and 2018 and a Busch pole in March 2019.
In 2015 at the 1.5-mile oval, he started 18th, led five times for a total of 142 laps and beat runner-up Martin Truex Jr., by 1.640 seconds. In the March 2018 race, he started second and dominated by leading 214 of 267 laps en route to beating runner-up Kyle Busch by 2.906 seconds.
Harvick has six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s at Las Vegas. The 44-year-old driver has led 679 laps, has an average starting position of 15.8, an average finish of 13.9, and has completed 93.9 percent – 5,541 of 5,900 – of the laps he’s contested there.
He also has 2004 and 2010 NASCAR Xfinity Series wins at Las Vegas and started three NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races there in the late 1990s.
It’s also going to be a special race for the family of the late Terry Chesbro as Harvick and the No. 4 team support the Martin Truex Jr., Foundation and the NASCAR Foundation. Chesbro died on July 3, 2019 after a long cancer battle and, sadly, that was also the birthday of Chip Chesbro, his younger brother. Chip Chesbro is a big Harvick fan, but his brother Terry was his hero. Terry’s name will appear above the driver’s door of Harvick’s Mobil 1 Ford Sunday as a tribute to the fight against cancer.
The Round of 12 starts Sunday and Harvick is hoping to win to lock himself into the Round of 8, get more points and make the family of the late Terry Chesbro happy.
Plus, if anyone has ever won a playoff game in Tecmo Super Bowl, it’s usually quite the celebration.
A lot was made about the points cushion you had entering the playoffs, but you proved quickly that you didn’t even need to worry about using the cushion, capturing two wins in this first round. How important is it for you to stay consistent throughout the playoffs like you did in the opening round?
“Yeah, I think for us you just want to keep doing what you’re doing. You don’t want to get out of rhythm, you don’t want to start thinking about what could happen or what did happen. You just go and do what you do on a week-to-week basis, climb in the car, drive it as hard as you can. The guys are going to put what they think is the best setup in the car for that particular week, and everybody wants to achieve the same goal, so nobody is trying to have a bad night or a slow car. Everybody is coming to the racetrack trying to do everything that we can, but the thing I can tell you is when things aren’t going 100 percent correctly on a race weekend, we’ve got a great group of guys on pit road, we’ve got a great group of guys back at home helping us and on the pit box and doing all the things that it takes to try to climb back in the race or strategize our way back in the race. Sometimes those weeks, and I think Darlington is a great example of that, we just kept ourselves in the race and wound up in a position that capitalized on winning the race even though we weren’t really in contention to win. You just want to stay in rhythm. It’s kind of like basketball or football and you look at the teams that get the first-week bye and then they go to the next week and it always makes me wonder if you wouldn’t just rather keep playing to stay in that rhythm, because I know for us staying in the rhythm and just thinking the same way that we have all year is the best way to do it for us.”
A lot of people want to look at the second round and talk about all the potential pitfalls. You’ve always talked about looking at just one race ahead of time. How did you get that approach? How tough was it to kind of focus in this playoff system where it can be easy to get wrapped up? And do you see other people getting wrapped up with, ‘Oh, look, here’s Talladega, here’s the ‘roval, here’s all these bad things that can happen, I-have-to-do-more-in-Vegas’ type of thing?
“I think for us, you just don’t want to read anything that’s happening in the sport, honestly, at this particular time of the year. You just want to keep your mind as clear as possible. We’ve made a decision of how we want to think and what we want to talk about and pay attention to, and it’s us. I know that sounds selfish, but the thing that I can tell you is it’s way less mentally exhausting than worrying about where you need to have a good race and where you need to have a bad race. It’s how do we get the most out of this week, and once you start the race, it’s, ‘OK, what do we need to do to our car? Are we good? Are we bad? Where do we need to work and just try to be productive and proactive of thinking toward what we need to do next?’ I don’t have the capacity to think more than one week ahead, anyway, and trying to overthink things just takes way too much space in my brain for me to function during the week.”
Why do your prefer Mobil 1 synthetic?
“I’m a synthetic guy because, in 1993 when we were sitting in the engine shop, we dumped Mobil 1 synthetic in and that’s all we did and gained seven horsepower. From that day on, we would actually save our money and then go to the local auto parts store because, at that time, it was like $5.50 a quart and the conventional and other oils were like $3.50. At the big races, we would put the Mobil 1 in the car and the regular races would put the regular oil in there. You know I’m going to say synthetic.”