● In 23 years of NASCAR Cup Series racing that has spanned 822 career starts, Kevin Harvick has racked up plenty of laps and even more miles in his Hall-of-Fame-worthy career. So, it’s only appropriate that his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang carries the branding of Mobil 1 Extended Performance High Mileage advanced full synthetic motor oil in the South Point 400 this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mobil 1 Extended Performance High Mileage safeguards an engine for 20,000 miles between oil changes by providing exceptional wear protection of critical components. Among active Cup Series drivers, there is no one with higher mileage than Harvick. He ranks fifth all-time in miles run (308,238.364) and 10th all-time in laps completed (231,068). These statistics place Harvick among a who’s who of NASCAR royalty.
● All-time miles run among all NASCAR Cup Series drivers, past and present:
1. Mark Martin (326,364.17 miles)
2. Ricky Rudd (322,457.663 miles)
3. Terry Labonte (318,907.583 miles)
4. Bill Elliott (308,803.511 miles)
5. Kevin Harvick (308,238.364 miles)
6. Richard Petty (303,748.756 miles)
● All-time laps completed among all NASCAR Cup Series drivers, past and present:
1. Richard Petty (307,844 laps completed)
2. Ricky Rudd (259,746 laps completed)
3. Mark Martin (255,044 laps completed)
4. Terry Labonte (254,874 laps completed)
5. Bill Elliott (238,923 laps completed)
6. Darrell Waltrip (237,773 laps completed)
7. Kyle Petty (232,922 laps completed)
8. Dave Marcis (231,392 laps completed)
9. Jeff Gordon (231,223 laps completed)
10. Kevin Harvick (231,068 laps completed)
11. Ken Schrader (220,638 laps completed)
● DYK? Las Vegas has been hosting races since 1996 and, in its 27-year existence, Harvick has competed at the track every single year. His first race at the 1.5-mile oval north of the Las Vegas Strip was a NASCAR Winston West Series race on Nov. 2, 1996. Driving for Wayne and Connie Spears, Harvick started fourth and finished 13th. Ken Schrader won, Michael Waltrip finished third, Butch Gilliland finished sixth and Hershel McGriff finished 21st. How is Harvick connected to those four individuals?
● Ken Schrader: It was at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, on May 2, 1998 where Harvick raced Schrader for the win in the NASCAR Winston West Series race. Schrader prevailed, but Harvick made his mark by starting second and finishing second and leading 32 laps in between. Schrader took the win by 1.314 seconds, but veteran NASCAR team owner Richard Childress took note of the then 22-year-old Harvick. In Harvick’s Winston West return to Fontana on July 18, he one-upped his performance from two months prior. Harvick started from the pole and ended with the win, taking the checkered flag by 1.15 seconds over Austin Cameron. He led 52 of the race’s 100 laps. Those victories were part of a five-win campaign that led Harvick to the 1998 Winston West championship and, ultimately, a 14-year career with Richard Childress Racing, with the team signing Harvick to race in the Xfinity Series in 2000.
● Michael Waltrip: Next year, Harvick will be a teammate to Waltrip – not on a race team, but in the broadcast booth. Harvick will transition from a firesuit to a suit and tie in 2024 when he joins Waltrip on the FOX broadcast team.
● Butch Gilliland: Harvick has raced against three generations of Gillilands, beginning with patriarch Butch Gilliland (they first raced together on April 21, 1996 in the Truck Series at Phoenix Raceway), and then Butch’s son David Gilliland (in both Xfinity and Cup Series races from 2004-2018) and finally David’s son Todd Gilliland, who was a Cup Series rookie last year and remains in the series.
● Hershel McGriff: McGriff was recently inducted into the 2023 NASCAR Hall of Fame and is known for his unsurpassed longevity in the sport. His first race was the 1950 Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway when he was a 22-year-old competing in NASCAR’s sophomore season. His final race was the 2018 Port of Tucson Twin 100s where, as a 90-year-old, McGriff drove in the first of two 100-lap NASCAR West Series races at Tucson (Ariz.) Speedway. Harvick and McGriff competed against each other in Winston West from 1996 through 1998.
● Harvick has made a total of 46 starts across four NASCAR divisions at Las Vegas:
● 4 NASCAR Winston West Series starts (1996-1998): Best result – won from the pole in 1998 Cactus Clash, leading 89 of the race’s 100 laps.
● 3 NASCAR Truck Series starts (1997-1999); Best result – eighth in 1997 Carquest Auto Parts 420k.
● 11 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts (2000-2011): Best result – first, earned twice (2004 Sam’s Town 300 and 2010 Sam’s Town 300).
● 28 NASCAR Cup Series starts (2001-present); Best result – first, earned twice (2015 Las Vegas 400 and 2018 Las Vegas 400).
● Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, Harvick has finished among the top-10 in nine of the 15 NASCAR Cup Series races contested at Las Vegas. In that span, the driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Extended Performance High Mileage Ford Mustang has led 621 laps and won twice – March 2015 and March 2018. Harvick finished 12th in each of the Cup Series races last year at the 1.5-mile oval and ninth in the series’ prior visit to the track in March.
● Harvick has led a total of 679 laps in the NASCAR Cup Series at Las Vegas, the most of any Cup Series driver in the history of the track. Next best in this category is seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson with 595 laps led. All but 58 of Harvick’s laps led at Las Vegas have come in his 10 years with Stewart-Haas Racing.
● Harvick’s win at Las Vegas in March 2018 was his 100th career victory across NASCAR’s top-three national touring series – Cup, Xfinity and Truck. He has since scored 21 more Cup Series wins to bring his record to 121 total victories – 60 in Cup, 47 in Xfinity and 14 in Truck. Only three other drivers in NASCAR history have surpassed 100 wins across NASCAR’s top-three series: Kyle Busch (229 wins), Richard Petty (200 wins) and David Pearson (106 wins).
● There have been 30 NASCAR Cup Series races contested at Las Vegas, including its inaugural race on March 1, 1998. Harvick has started 27 of those races, the most of any driver, past or present.
● 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 Extended Performance High Mileage Ford Mustang faster.
You’ve won at Las Vegas twice and have finished among the top-10 six times in your last nine races at the track. What do you need to be quick there?
“Las Vegas has a lot of tire fall-off, so it’s important to have a good-handling racecar. It’s also a track where you’re constantly moving around trying to find the right grip.”
The South Point 400 will mark your final race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. As you compete at all these racetracks one last time, is it becoming more and more surreal that the next time you’re at these tracks, you won’t be racing?
“I’ve had that question a lot, and every time I go to one for the last time, it doesn’t feel that bad. Coming back this year and running this last season and making it as public as it’s been, to have a plan for logos and racetracks and fans and people to come the last time, and to go back and look at all the old pictures and hear the fans’ stories and racetrack stories, or whatever the scenario is, it’s put really good closure to whatever event it is. There’s really not anything that has happened so far where I was like, ‘Oh man, I’m not so sure that I’m happy about it being the last time.’ I’m so far into planning for next year, and everything is already lined up with the television and the management company, and you’ve already moved on to making a new plan and you’re living out the rest of the plan that you’d already laid out at this time last year. I think the closure to me has just been the fact that it is what it is. That points to us doing a really good job of planning it all out, and I feel like we’re good at just moving on to the next task.”
Are you compartmentalizing your emotions as your final season winds down?
“I feel like that’s something that, throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to be pretty good at. You just go and just do what you’re supposed to do no matter what the surrounding situation is, whether it’s chaotic, or you’re running good, you’re running bad, you run into somebody, last year, first year, I think it’s just been one of those things that I’ve been fortunate to be able to do, just climb in the car, put the window net up, and it’s just what you do. No matter the magnitude of the scenario, it’s just part of the next step to get to where you want to be. Going into the year, obviously we knew that we’d planned out the last year and the last season of what we wanted to do and it’s just part of the plan. For me, we’re definitely structured planners, so you just execute that plan and then you go to the next one. I know at the end of the year it’ll obviously look different but, on the flip side, I’ve been very fortunate to be successful at what I do. I’ve basically lived out my childhood dream to do what I wanted to do, and now it’s time to move on. It’s time to do something different after we go to Phoenix and race there for the last time, and for me, that’s exciting.”
Has there been a particular moment this year during all the tributes to your career that’s really resonated with you?
“I think when the 4EVER signs started showing up on the walls and you had to drive by them every lap – at Watkins Glen they had the tribute through the esses and you drove by it every single lap. You drive by my pit marker at a lot of these racetrack and it’s the 4EVER sign. Marcus Smith (president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports) was very up front in saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got to have a chance to do this type of stuff, and to be able to do it with the fans and the sponsors and with the team and everybody that’s involved in it.’ What I don’t think is a big deal is a big deal to a lot of people, because I do this on a week-to-week basis. I’ve grown up around it and I’ve seen it from every end of the spectrum that you could see it from. It’s a big deal to a lot of people, and it’s a big deal to each racetrack and their local fans and markets. So it’s been fun to see it all play out. I don’t know if there’s one that sticks out above the other ones, but I think for me the biggest moment was running that 29 car at North Wilkesboro.”
Las Vegas has become quite the sports town. What are some of the sports you might’ve played if you weren’t a NASCAR driver?
“I’m not the most athletic person, but I have a little bit of grit and determination, which is the only thing that got me through my four years of wresting in high school. I don’t know what I would’ve done. I went to the local junior college and knew I wanted to race and never pursued the wrestling piece of it. I would’ve definitely had to do some things a little bit differently. I was a little guy in high school. I think that worked out OK now, being 47 years old, but I always wanted to race and I have no clue what I would’ve done if I wasn’t driving cars. I started driving go-karts when I was 5 and raced cars when I was 16 and started traveling all over, racing cars or working on the trucks for Wayne and Connie Spears as a mechanic. Racing is all that I’ve known. I have no clue in which direction it would’ve gone if it wasn’t for racing.”