Mobil 1 Racing: Kevin Harvick Indianapolis Advance

Stewart-Haas Racing

●  In a year full of tributes to Kevin Harvick’s final NASCAR Cup Series season, Harvick and Mobil 1 are paying tribute to Tony Stewart – the “Stewart” in Stewart-Haas Racing. When Stewart made his last start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 2016 Brickyard 400, he ran a Mobil 1 paint scheme where the brand’s signature red Pegasus wings adorned his white racecar. That design has been brought back for Harvick’s final Cup Series race at Indianapolis, where Stewart will be on hand in his role of team owner.

●  The Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday at Indianapolis marks the fourth of six road-course races on the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Harvick finished 13th in the first road-course race of the year March 26 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, 11th June 11 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and 29th in the series’ inaugural street race July 2 in downtown Chicago. After Indianapolis, a more traditional road course greets Cup Series drivers Aug. 20 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International before the final road-course race of the season Oct. 8 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval.

●  Despite running the road course at Indianapolis, Indy is still an oval thing for Harvick. The venerable 2.5-mile rectangle hosted 27 NASCAR Cup Series races, and Harvick competed in 20 of them, putting up impressive numbers in the crown-jewel Brickyard 400 – three wins, three poles, eight top-fives and 14 top-10s with 389 laps led. The only other active Cup Series driver even close to those numbers is Kyle Busch with two wins, two poles, five top-fives and 12 top-10s with 324 laps led. Harvick also holds the title of reigning Brickyard 400 winner, a title he has held for four years. Harvick won the last two Brickyard 400s (2019-2020) before the Cup Series switched to the road course in 2021.

●  Harvick has made a total of 58 NASCAR Cup Series starts on road courses. He has 22 starts at Sonoma, 21 at Watkins Glen, five at the Charlotte Roval, three at COTA, two apiece at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, Indianapolis and the road course at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, and one on the Chicago Street Course. He has scored two road-course wins – Watkins Glen in 2006 and Sonoma in 2017 – along with 12 top-fives and 27 top-10s with 199 laps led.

●  When Harvick scored his first road-course victory at Watkins Glen in 2006, he had to beat his current team owner to do it. Stewart had won the previous two NASCAR Cup Series races at The Glen 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 1.99-mile, 10-turn 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 25 Cup Series races with Ford, which makes him one of only 13 drivers to win 20 or more races with the manufacturer. He stands 10th on Ford’s all-time win list and is now only one win away from tying Brad Keselowski, Junior Johnson and Fred Lorenzen for ninth. Harvick has won more races driving a Mustang (15) than any other driver since the iconic muscle car became Ford’s flagship model in 2019.

●  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 Winston West/K&N Pro Series West – Sonoma in 1998 and again in 2017. The 1998 win at Sonoma was three years before his Cup Series debut on Feb. 26, 2001 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham.

●  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 Indianapolis, 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.

Kevin Harvick;

What are some of your favorite memories of driving at Indianapolis?

“Well, my favorite memories are going in the right direction on the front straightaway. We won the last two races that we ran on the oval, so we’re definitely way bigger fans of the oval than we are the road course. And for me, growing up as a kid and being able to almost accomplish your childhood dreams – I grew up a Rick Mears fan and wanting to race at the Indy 500 – so driving in and doing my first test at the speedway and being able to be in the environment, on that racetrack, and see all the things that you saw as a kid and live that out, and go to victory lane and do all of the things and accomplish all the things that we’ve been able to accomplish there is really neat. Indy’s always a special place for me, and I think as we go back this year, it will be one of the places that you look at and say, ‘Man, I wish we could’ve raced on the oval the last three years,’ but I also enjoy going there and enjoy the environment and enjoy the things that you think about and everything that you grew up wanting to do is a reality there, and so you look at that so many years later, it’s pretty awesome to be able to say you’ve done the things that you’ve done there.”

When it comes to Indianapolis, you’ve been clear that you prefer its 2.5-mile oval over its 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course. What is it about the oval that resonates with you?

“It’s definitely an oval thing for me. Driving through that tunnel and understanding the history and everything that comes with racing on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something that I always looked forward to. When you look at the oval and you look at the history of the racetrack and everything that comes with that – some guys may not have grown up like that, so some people will have a much different opinion – but for me the oval just holds a huge place in racing and it holds a huge place in the things that I looked forward to every year. I remember the first time I pulled in there for a test in 2001 and you roll into the racetrack and you think, ‘Man, I just accomplished everything in my childhood dreams, rolling into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.’ Getting to go out on that racetrack and hearing the echoes of the cars through the grandstand is something that I’ll never forget.”

You’ve got three Brickyard 400 wins, including the last two at the oval. What are your thoughts going into Indy one final time?

“Indy’s a special place, and obviously I’d rather race on the oval. But the good news is I won the last two on the oval, so I’ll always go out a winner on the oval. That feels good to me because Indy’s always been a pretty special place because of growing up a Rick Mears fan and wanting to race at the Indy 500 and all of the things that I wanted to do as a kid.”

Talk about the time you first got to be at Indy and compete on the same track that you had watched another famous racer from Bakersfield, California, Rick Mears, compete? 

“Those moments were really neat because, the first year I ran the Cup car, I was able to go test there. I could kind of take in – all the things that you’ve seen on TV – and put them in perspective in real life and then make actual laps around the racetrack. Winning in 2003 was one of the neatest moments because, at that time, you still did the victory lap in the back of the pace car and the fans there were really knowledgeable about everything that was going on, and you were able to just take that all in. And really, for me, kind of living out your childhood dream was pretty neat. Indy’s just a special place, and for me to live that out as an adult, what you dreamed about as a kid, was pretty special.”

That moment riding in the back of the convertible pace car when you won your first Brickyard 400 in 2003, can you explain what you’re seeing, hearing and feeling?

“The fans, they’re so racing-educated at Indianapolis, and they know the procedures of the event and the things that happen, and to see that many fans stay after the race is not normal. But they know that victory lap is coming, so to ride with Richard (Childress) and DeLana and Kevin Hamlin (crew chief) in the pace car at that particular time was just something that you’ll never forget. You don’t do it anymore, so it’s not so special because you don’t do those laps anymore, but it’s something that I’ll always vividly remember.”

Are you proud of the fact that you won at Indy in those halcyon days of NASCAR and got to enjoy all those moments? 

“I think when you look back at sporting events in general, they were just different at that particular time, especially here in NASCAR. It’s different than what it was – 50,000 people is not 150,000 people – and for me, I came through this sport at a great time when I got to race against, really, almost two generations of guys before me. And now I’m part of two or three generations of guys that have come in that’ll still be here when I leave. I got to race against so many generations of competitors, in different generations of cars, where racetracks evolved along with all the race vehicles. So, I was really lucky to come through and see the magnitude of the growth of the sport and the height of the sport. The list of competitors that I’ve been able to compete against is pretty neat.”

If the NASCAR Cup Series were to return to the oval, do you see yourself coming out of retirement to run that race one more time?

“No. I think my racing at the top level is done. I realize that there’s no possible way that you can jump in and out of things and be competitive, and the way that we’ve always gone about things throughout the years, whether it was a Late Model race or a Cup race is to be prepared and always give yourself the best opportunity to be competitive. I definitely don’t anticipate any scenario that puts me in a Cup car or an Indy car or anything like that. There may be some Late Model races or Xfinity races or Truck races here and there, but to be competitive at the highest levels, you have to do it every week and, for me, that time will be over when we get to Phoenix at the end of the year.”


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