Harvick: It’s Crunch Time

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff-opening South Point Hotel Casino 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a team operating like a well-oiled machine.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion finished the 26-race regular season as the series leader with seven points-paying wins, 19 top-five finishes, 22 top-10s, 1,220 laps led and 50 playoff points, but second in total regular-season points. He starts the playoffs as the second seed but is tied with leader Kyle Busch for the most points at 2,050 after the regular-season standings were reset for the 16 drivers who qualified for the playoffs.

One of Harvick’s seven wins through the first 26-races came in the season’s third race at Las Vegas in March. However, this weekend’s race will be a new challenge as it is the first time the Cup Series has visited Las Vegas in the playoffs, and hot temperatures combined with a slick racing surface will make things much different for drivers and teams than they were during the 400-miler in March.

To help combat this weekend’s harsh conditions, Harvick and the No. 4 team expect to benefit from SHR’s technology partnership with Mobil 1, which is a unique combination of experience, expertise and innovative thinking that strives to consistently deliver performance-enhancing results on the track.

Mobil 1 works to reduce engine temperatures and to increase engine efficiency. The products allow the No. 4 Ford to reduce rolling resistance, which contributes to increased acceleration on restarts on the way to reaching top speed. Mobil 1 continues to perform rigorous testing with the SHR teams to improve on-track performance, including the reduction of frictional loss in the engines to maximize fuel mileage, increase horsepower and turn more rpm.

The Mobil 1 products reduce friction in the suspension components, as well, providing maximum tire grip and helping to reduce steering compliance to give precision control and improved handling for Harvick behind the wheel.

More good news for Harvick and the No. 4 team is that they enter the playoffs with 50 playoffs points. Those 50 playoffs points will be a huge benefit as the team attempts to advance out of the Round of 16 and into the Round of 12. In fact, the playoff points could be beneficial through each of the rounds as long as the team advances.

Additional race and stage wins would give Harvick nearly a full-race cushion as the team tries for its second championship in four years. Therefore, the goal remains the same – win races and stages as often as possible to reach the season finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway in 10 weeks.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
You’ve had a great regular season. How do you carry that into the final 10 playoff races?

“We had a good first 26 weeks. Obviously, you want to win all the races that you can and we were fortunate to win seven of them in the first 26, so it’s been a good regular season. But, now it’s crunch time. You have to go out and perform and try to do the exact same thing that we did through the first 26 races of the season in the last 10 races – that’s winning races. That is the focus and the mindset we need to have because there is no guarantee that you get to the next round. The bonus points and playoff points are nice, and you can continue to accumulate those, but there are no guarantees as we saw last year with Kyle Larson. He had a lot of bonus points but still didn’t make it into Homestead. We just have to take it one week at a time – that’s my mentality and we’ll try to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

Do you try and step up the intensity or add motivation to the crew prior to the start of the playoffs?

“I would rather not because I would hope that we’re prepared. A lot of the guys on our team have been to the playoffs, won a championship; they’ve been there with their backs against the wall having to win races. The more you can make it like just another week – and with the intensity level it’s not just another week, but the more you can make it like every other week that we’ve been racing with a playoff atmosphere – the better off you’re going to be. When you go there and try to do something with more intensity, you start making mistakes pressuring the pit crew guys or crew guys trying to do things that they haven’t been doing. It has to be a part of the process. It has to be a part of how you think and the things you do to prepare going into this race need to be the same as how you went into the last race. I just believe the playoff points structure and how the points are structured – you have to go to the Daytona 500 and start collecting bonus points. Martin Truex Jr. proved that last year with the things he did and the way that they went about their regular season. It just kept building all the way through the year. Those playoff points are important and the race wins are even more important. There is nothing that builds more confidence than race wins.

You won at Las Vegas earlier in the year. How is this race going to be different from that one?

“As we go to Las Vegas this week, we know we went there and won the race at the beginning of the year. Now we want to go back and do the same thing. But, you have to adapt to all the things that have changed over the last 23 weeks and the weather conditions. There are going to be differences because of the track surface temperature, ambient temperature. All of the heat that goes through the racecar affects everything. It affects how big the hole is, how you cool the gear, how you cool the driver and how much tape you have to take off to cool the engine. The brakes are going to get hotter and the tires are going to build pressure faster. Are you going to move up the racetrack earlier because you’re looking for grip? I don’t know. The one thing about this weekend is you have the trucks there, the Xfinity cars there, so the track is going to be pretty rubbered up and different than it is in the spring.”

Mobil 1 Racing Team Report

Round 27 of 36 – South Point Hotel Casino 400 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

At-Track PR Contact: Ryan Barry, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 812, Ryan.Barry@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)
Primary Team:
Driver: Kevin Harvick
Hometown: Bakersfield, California
Crew Chief: Rodney Childers
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Car Chief: Robert Smith
Hometown: Whitewater, Wisconsin
Engine Builder: Roush-Yates Engines
Headquarters: Mooresville, North Carolina
Engine Specialist: Robert Brandt
Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
Spotter: Tim Fedewa
Hometown: Holt, Michigan
Over-The-Wall Crew:
Gas Man: Justin White
Hometown: Lynnville, Tennessee
Front Tire Changer: Shayne Pipala
Hometown: Frankfort Square, Illinois
Rear Tire Changer: Michael Johnson
Hometown: Andover, New York
Jackman: Stan Doolittle
Hometown: Ninety-Six, South Carolina
Tire Carrier: Mike “Shrek” Morneau
Hometown: Oxford, Maine
Road Crew:
Truck Drivers: Rick Hodges and Stephen Mitchell
Hometowns: Raleigh, North Carolina, and Woodville, Ohio, respectively
Tire Specialist: Chris Rock
Hometown: Steubenville, Ohio
Shock Specialist: Michael McCarville
Hometown: Kensington, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Engineers: Dax Gerringer and Billy Keubler
Hometowns: Gibsonville, North Carolina, and Saline, Michigan, respectively
Mechanics: Richie Bean and Allen Mincey
Hometown: Bradford, Vermont, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, respectively

Interior Specialist: Matt Custer

Hometown: Bedford, Pennsylvania

Chassis No. 4-1040:
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion built on Chassis No. 4-1041 in the South Point Hotel Casino 400 Sunday at Las Vegas. Chassis No. 4-1041 made its debut in June at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, where it started 12th and finished second to Ryan Blaney by .139 of a second. It made its second appearance in July at Pocono, where Harvick started sixth and finished runner-up to Kyle Busch by 6.178 seconds. In its final appearance of 2017 in October at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Harvick started third, led a race-high 149 laps and finished third. The chassis visited victory lane in its first start of 2018 at Las Vegas, where Harvick started second and dominated by leading 214 of 267 laps and finished 2.906 seconds ahead of runner-up Busch. At Pocono in June, it started second, led 89 laps and finished fourth. In its most recent appearance at Pocono in July, Harvick started 29th, finished fourth and led 30 laps.
Las Vegas Notes of Interest:
·   Dynamic Duo – While this isHarvick’s 18th year in the NASCAR Cup Series, it’s only his fifth with crew chief Rodney Childers. Since joining forces at SHR in 2014, Harvick and Childers have combined to produce 21 points-paying victories, the non-points-paying 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, 17 poles, 87 top-five finishes and 120 top-10s while leading 7,885 laps. They won the 2014 championship, finished runner-up in the 2015 title chase to champion Kyle Busch, finished eighth in 2016 and third in 2017. The team has qualified for the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway three of the last four seasons.

 

·   Harvick has career totals of 44 wins, 23 poles, 187 top-fives, 329 top-10s and 12,311 laps led in 636 starts.

  • His most recent Cup Series win came at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (Aug. 12, 2018).
  • His last Busch Pole came at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City (May 11, 2018).

·   On Point – Harvick arrives at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the second seed to start the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, but is tied with Kyle Busch in points with 2,050.

 

·   Las Vegas Numerology – Harvick has two wins, five top-five finishes, eight top-10s and has led a total of 438 laps in his 18 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Las Vegas. His average start is 18.6, his average finish is 14.1 and he has a lap-completion rate of 95.2 percent, completing 4,593 of the 4,827 laps available.

 

·   Harvick at Las Vegas since 2014 – The combination of Harvick competing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in SHR equipment is impressive. In his last five NASCAR Cup Series starts at Las Vegas – all of which have come with SHR – Harvick has two wins, three top-10s and led 380 laps. And of the 438 laps Harvick has led at Las Vegas dating back to his rookie year in 2001, a total of 380 (nearly 87 percent) have come with SHR despite only five (27 percent) of his 18 Las Vegas starts being with SHR.

 

·   Uncharted Territory With Seven Points-Paying Wins for No. 4 – Harvick’s seven points-paying wins in 2018 is a new single-season best for the 18-year Cup Series veteran. His previous high-water mark was five races, accomplished first in 2006 and again in 2014. This is the sixth time Harvick has scored at least four wins in a season. Harvick also scored a non-points-paying win in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race May 19 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the second time in his career. Harvick’s series-best seven wins in 2018 is one more than points-leader Busch, who scored his sixth win of the season at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in July.

 

·   Freaky Fast Busch Pole Qualifier – Harvick has started on the front row seven times this season. The most recent came Sept. 10 at Indianapolis, where he started second to polesitter Kyle Busch after rain cancelled qualifying and the field was set according to the NASCAR rulebook. He has started in the top-10 in 19 of the 26 NASCAR Cup Series races this season. Harvick scored his first Busch Pole of the year at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, where he recorded a lap of 49.247 seconds at 194.448 mph. He scored his second pole of the season at Kansas, where he recorded a lap of 28.600 seconds at 188.811 mph.

 

·   Three-Peat Notes – Harvick’s consecutive wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway near Phoenix marked only the 24th time in NASCAR’s modern era (1972 to present) that a driver won three consecutive races. Nine of the 23 previous times a driver won three consecutive races in a season, that driver has gone on to win the championship. Prior to Harvick’s three-peat, Busch was the most recent driver to win three in a row – in 2015, when he went on to score his first and, so far, only championship. Ironically, Busch has also won three consecutive races this season – April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, April 16 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, and April 21 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.

 

·   Lap Leader –Harvick led his 12,000th lap in NASCAR Cup Series competition June 3 at Pocono. He is one of only 15 drivers to lead 12,000 laps in his Cup Series career. He joins Jimmie Johnson, Busch and Matt Kenseth as the only active drivers to accomplish that feat. Harvick’s laps-led total since 2014 is 7,863, which is 3,437 laps more than the total from his 13 previous seasons before joining SHR (2001 to 2013). Harvick has already led a series-best 1,198 laps in 2018 and has now surpassed 1,000 laps led in a season for the fourth time in his career. He’s done it three previous times, all with SHR.

 

·   Playoff Bound – Harvick qualified for the 2018 NASCAR playoffs with his wins at Atlanta, Phoenix, Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Kansas, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, and Michigan. He leads the Cup series in playoff points with 50. He gained 10 playoff points for finishing the 26-race regular season in second, five playoff points for each race win at Atlanta, Phoenix, Dover, Kansas, New Hampshire and Michigan, and an additional point for each of his stage wins at Atlanta, Texas, two at Dover in May, Pocono in June, Michigan in June, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, Pocono in August and two at Michigan in August (total of 10). The No. 4 team’s race win at Las Vegas does not count toward its playoff qualification due to a post-race penalty.

 

·   Make Your Mark – With his win Aug. 12 at Michigan, Harvick is now tied with Bill Elliott at 17th on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series win list. Harvick’s next win would move him into sole possession of 17th on the all-time list and he now sits just two wins behind Buck Baker’s 46 for 16th on the all-time wins list. Among active drivers, Harvick’s 44 career wins rank third behind only series leader Johnson’s 83 and Busch’s 49 wins.

 

·   105 and Counting – Harvick scored his 100th career win in NASCAR’s top three series when he won the Cup Series race at Las Vegas and his 101st at Phoenix the following week. He now has 105 total victories after his most recent Cup Series win at Michigan – 44 in the Cup Series, 47 in the Xfinity Series and 14 in the Camping World Truck Series. Only three other drivers in NASCAR history have passed 100 wins in NASCAR’s top-three series: Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and Busch.

 

·   Harvick’s Happy Hours on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio – Harvick is in his second year as the co-host of the award-winning radio program Happy Hours on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel 90. The show debuted on March 28, 2017. It airs 7 to 9 p.m. ET on Tuesdays and features Harvick’s distinctive perspective on the sport and life outside the track. Harvick and co-host Matt Yocum take calls from listeners and give NASCAR fans a unique view on the driver’s life and interests when he is away from the racecar. On April 12, the show won the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards “Radio Program” category. Other finalists in the category included SiriusXM’s Basketball and Beyond with Coach K, as well as the Dan Le Batard Show, Dan Patrick Show and Jim Rome Show.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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