Mobil 1 Racing: Kevin Harvick Talladega Advance (800th NCS Start)

Stewart-Haas Racing

●  Kevin Harvick will make his 800th career NASCAR Cup Series start when he takes the green flag for Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing will become just the 10th driver in NASCAR’s 75-year history to reach this milestone and, at age 47, the fifth-youngest driver to make 800 starts. He’ll join an impressive lineup that includes Richard Petty (1,185 starts), Ricky Rudd (906), Terry Labonte (890), Dave Marcis (883), Mark Martin (882), Kyle Petty (829), Bill Elliott (828), Darrell Waltrip (809) and Jeff Gordon (805). Harvick is on track to finish the year with 826 career starts, which would put him eighth all-time.

●  If Harvick wins the GEICO 500, he’ll be just the second driver to win in their 800th start. The lone driver to accomplish this feat is none other than Richard Petty. “The King” won the CRC Chemicals 500 on Sept. 16, 1979 at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway. Harvick was three years old.

●  What has Harvick done in his 799 NASCAR Cup Series starts prior to Talladega?

    ●  He won the 2014 Cup Series championship.

    ●  His 60 point-paying wins ranks 10th all-time.

    ●  His 62 runner-up finishes ranks sixth all-time.

    ●  His 248 top-five finishes ranks ninth all-time.

    ●  His 435 top-10 finishes ranks fifth all-time.

    ●  His 1,272 starts across NASCAR’s top-three series – Cup, Xfinity and Truck – is the most all-time (and 75 more than any other driver).

    ●  His 121 wins across NASCAR’s top-three series ranks third all-time.

●  Even after accumulating all of those accolades, Harvick remains hammer down. He is currently third in the championship standings, just 15 points behind leader Christopher Bell. He has three top-fives and five top-10s and in his most recent race last Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Harvick led twice for 20 laps and won the second stage. He needs to lead only 36 more laps to hit 16,000 laps led in his career, a milestone that only 10 other drivers have surpassed.

●  Harvick has made 44 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega, collecting eight top-fives and 19 top-10s. Denny Hamlin leads the series with 10 top-fives at Talladega while Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are tied for the second-most top-fives with nine apiece. In the top-10 category, only Busch is ahead of Harvick with 22 top-10s.

●  Atop Harvick’s NASCAR Cup Series stat box at Talladega is a win. Harvick came out the victor in a dogfight of a race at Talladega on April 25, 2010. There were an incredible 88 lead changes and three massive accidents that collected a total of 24 cars. Harvick kept his car intact throughout each bout of calamity and despite leading only two laps, the second lap led was the one that mattered most. Harvick got underneath race leader Jamie McMurray in the track’s tri-oval to sweep past him and take the win by just .011 of a second. It was the 12th of Harvick’s 60 career Cup Series wins.

●  In addition to his 44 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega, Harvick has eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, with a best result of second in April 2006.

●  At Talladega in October 2018, Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) enjoyed one of its most dominant days ever. The team qualified 1-2-3-4 for the first time in its history. SHR drivers then led 155 of the race’s 193 laps (80.3 percent), including the last lap by Aric Almirola, who delivered SHR’s milestone 50th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory and the organization’s 11th win of the season.

●  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.

Talladega marks your 800th career NASCAR Cup Series start, which puts you 10th all-time. When you first came into racing, did 100 starts even seem like a reality, never mind 800?

“Well, I didn’t even know if I’d get to one (laughs). When you think about 800 races and you try to put it into perspective, you really start adding the years up. It’s a really wide body of work, and I think that’s what I’m the most proud of. Through those 800 starts, it’s not like we started the year cashing checks and just riding around. We’ve been competitive, racing at the front of the pack, leading laps and having the chance to win races. For me, that’s the thing that I’m most proud of, and I think from your colleagues and people from other race teams, they see that body of work and being competitive across that long period of time. You hear it all the time, ‘I can’t believe they’ve been that competitive for that long.’ And to me, that’s the part I’m most proud of, being able to do this at a high level for such a long time. But wrapping your arms around 800 of them is, for me, quite an honor, just because of the fact that you’ve been able to adapt and adjust to so many things and stick around so long. But being competitive is still the thing that I enjoy the most. Getting to that number is great, but getting there and being competitive is better.”

What have you had to do to remain so competitive for so long at such a high level?

“I think I’ve taken pretty good care of myself throughout the years to make myself durable through all the travel and time and things you put into doing this. Being able to adapt and adjust to new things and new people, and being honest with people in situations, and sticking up for yourself when you think something’s right, and having those traits and the ability to have people who will accept those things because they know that you put a lot of thought and effort into what you’re doing. One thing I’ve been able to do well is figure out how to focus yourself when you really don’t want to do it, or you’re really frustrated, and being able to, when the switch turns on, ‘OK, today I might have a chance to win – we don’t have the fastest car, but how can I do all the little things right? If we can win with this piece of crap, people are going to notice.’ Or if we need to take this car today and it’s fast and you need to get your stuff together and focus on what you need to focus on. That stuff happens all the time during the week because there are a lot of days when you wake up in the morning, and I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this, ‘I wish I didn’t have to go to work today,’ or ‘I don’t want to be here today,’ then having that ability to climb in that car, turn all that off, and turn the competitive switch on. It’s something that I think I was just brought up that way. If you’re going to be here, you better figure it out and you better figure out how to flip that switch when you get in there. I don’t care how your day’s been or what’s going on, you need to figure it out while you’re in there because, in the end, it’s how you put food on the table.”

Is there any one particular thing that you’re most proud of in terms of your accomplishments?

“There are a lot of things that, in the beginning of my career, where you didn’t push the correct way – you pushed and yelled and screamed. Now, I’ve been here long enough that you have the respect of your competitors and the sanctioning body and things like that, and I think when you look at the safety stuff that’s happened over the last couple of years, just being involved in that. But I’m pro-driver, I love all the guys that I race against, I love the dynamic of the driver itself and being able to compete, but also being able to have a voice of who we are and what we do in our sport is something that I’ve always believed in and used. So I think off the racetrack, even from the standpoint of sometimes it is a show and sometimes you have to cause a little bit of a stink to keep your team relevant, and knowing when to push those buttons and cause the show and a little bit of chaos, it doesn’t ever hurt to grab those headlines when things aren’t going your way or you need to push something in a different direction. And I think we’ve always been fortunate to have a good feel for all that stuff. Outside the car is just as important as inside the car and how it affects the things that you do. You learn as you go.”

What are your expectations when it comes to racing Talladega?

“It’s one of those places where you want to race up front and race hard all day because you have to try to win stages. I believe you have better odds at the front of the pack when it comes to staying out of a wreck if you can keep that track position all day. You’re going to race in a pack – three-wide at times – and you’re going to get pushed and have to push at times. You just never know what’s going to happen because Talladega is its own animal. It’s hard to finish a race there. As we’ve seen over the past however many years, you try to put yourself in the right position and hope you have a little bit of luck on your side that particular day. I know our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang will be fast enough to contend for the win, but you just have to get to the finish.”

There are some physically demanding races on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Is Talladega mentally demanding?

“Superspeedway racing, in general, is just a mentally demanding situation because of the constant looking in the mirror and looking around and trying to keep the car going as fast as it can go and being aggressive and pushing and shoving and doing all the things it takes. There’s just a lot that you have to process from a mental standpoint, for sure.”

Describe the intensity of racing at Talladega.

“You have to be aggressive just for the fact that if you’re not aggressive, it always seems like you’re not going to be where you need to be. Nine times out of 10, the aggressor is going to be the guy who comes out on the good side of things just for the fact that you’re making things happen and you’re not waiting for something else to happen. When you wait for something else to happen, that’s usually when you get in trouble because it’s usually someone else’s mess. You can still get in trouble if you’re aggressive, but with the way things are, it’s best to stay aggressive and try to stay up front.”


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