● 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 on Memorial Day weekend, Harvick won the 2014 Bank of America 500 in the NASCAR Cup Series’ return to the track in 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.
● Harvick has earned two poles at Charlotte. The first came in the 2016 Bank of America 500 (27.547 seconds at 196.029 mph) and the second came in the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 (27.918 seconds at 193.424 mph).
● This year’s Coca-Cola 600 will mark Harvick’s 41st career NASCAR Cup Series start at Charlotte. The Bakersfield, California-native has 10 top-fives and 21 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 among the top-10 in his last five races at Charlotte and 14 times in the last 16 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). Harvick finished third in last year’s Coca-Cola 600.
● Harvick has shown strength at Charlotte outside of the NASCAR Cup Series. He has made 28 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the 1.5-mile oval, finishing among the top-10 18 times, with a best result of second, earned twice (October 2012 and May 2017). Harvick has also made three NASCAR Truck Series starts at Charlotte, finishing among the top-five twice with a best result of fourth in May 2004.
● As part of #NASCARSalutes and the 600 Miles of Remembrance initiative during the Coca-Cola 600, the No. 4 Mobil 1 team is honoring Marine Corporal Claudio Patino IV, a scout sniper with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. The 22-year-old from Yorba Linda, California, was killed in action on June 22, 2010 during combat operations in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. As a young boy, Patino dreamed of being in the military and serving his country, with his bedroom wall adorned with pictures and posters of the military. He joined the Marines shortly after graduating from El Dorado High School in 2006. He was deployed to Iraq in 2008 and then to Afghanistan in 2009. In his third overseas deployment, Patino’s battalion, based in Twentynine Palms, California, returned to Afghanistan at the end of March 2010 to assist with general combat operations, train and equip Afghan security forces, and suppress the Taliban. Patino was decorated many times as a member of the Marine Corps, earning an Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and NATO Medal. Patino received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal with Valor posthumously. “He was a Marine to the core,” said Patino’s brother, Marlon Chinchilla. “He died the way he wanted to die. He died a warrior, and he really believed in fighting for his country.”
● 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.
We’re at the mid-point of the regular season. How is your season going so far?
“Our year’s been pretty solid, so far. We’ve been fortunate to have good cars at a lot of the racetracks that we’ve been to. We haven’t been to victory lane, but a couple of times we’ve been right there toward the end of races and it just hasn’t all worked out. But the one thing that I have learned is, if you keep putting yourself in that spot, that door will open soon, and that’s really our focus right now, to continue doing the things that we’ve been doing. We’ve run well at some of the racetracks we haven’t run well at in the past – Martinsville would be the biggest example of that. We ran well at Phoenix, and even at Daytona and Talladega and so many of the places that we’ve been able to put the car up front and lead laps, that’s what we have to do. I think we’ve scored more stage points this year than we probably scored all of last year. That’s a huge improvement. It means that we’re running in the right part of the field. I’m not disappointed that we haven’t won yet. For us, it’s really about the whole season and trying to keep putting yourself in that position because, if you do, that door will open.”
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.”
The Coca-Cola 600 used to be about pushing drivers and their cars to the limit, as attrition was once a key factor. But today, drivers are fitter than ever and cars seem to be built better than ever before. Is that extra 100 miles noticeable anymore, be it from your perspective behind the wheel or from your team’s when it comes to building your racecar?
“I don’t think from a physical standpoint it’s noticeable anymore. I think the biggest thing about the Coke 600 is your mental state. When they tell you halfway, it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s only halfway?’ That’s 200 laps, and it feels like you’ve run a whole race and you have the other half of the race still to run. So I think from a mental standpoint, it’s hard to wrap your arms around the lap count and all the things that come with a race being that long.”
The Coca-Cola 600 is considered one of NASCAR’s crown jewels because it is the only 600-mile race on the schedule. But in this short-attention span era, is a 600-mile race still needed?
“You can debate it. Looking at the 600, it’s a pretty historic race and, listening to people who’ve watched the race, they think it’s too long. But I think from the sport’s standpoint, you have to have different tests, and I think 600 miles still represents a test that you can relate to the past, and it just adds a different level of preparation.”
You’re a two-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600 (2011 and 2013). Forget the folks who say a four-plus hour race is too long. Do you take special satisfaction in each of those wins because it is a big deal to not only run 600 miles at Charlotte, but do it better than anyone else – twice?
“I don’t that that one sticks out any more than any of the rest of them as far as the marquee, crown-jewel races go, just because of the fact that those four races (Coca-Cola 600, Daytona 500, Southern 500 and Brickyard 400) are pretty unique, and having the opportunity to win any of those is pretty special. And I think winning at Charlotte, no matter what it is, whether it’s the 600 or at the Roval, it’s definitely different because of all the people you have from the shop, and family and friends, and anything you can win at Charlotte is just special.”
What would it mean to win a third Coca-Cola 600 in your final Coke 600 start?
“When you look at Charlotte Motor Speedway, it’s obviously a huge piece of the NASCAR landscape, and to win one of the crown-jewel races in the Coke 600 and be able to put your name on one of those trophies is something that is important. For me, Charlotte was always one of those racetracks that I was like, ‘Uh, I don’t know, I don’t like it, I do like it, I don’t like it, I do like it,’ but over the last 10 or 12 years, it’s been a racetrack that’s been pretty good to me. I think when you’re in NASCAR racing, you understand that Charlotte Motor Speedway is not only special because it’s the home of the Coke 600, it’s also special because this is really our hub, this is where all the race shops are, this is where all the people are. It’s the place where the folks in the industry get to bring their family to the race and enjoy the weekend. You’re close to home and it’s a homecoming event year after year, and it’s always a special weekend – especially when you win, because you get to have people in victory lane that don’t normally get to victory lane. So that’s our goal – get people to victory lane who don’t normally get to go to victory lane.”
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.”