● Event: Coca-Cola 600 (Round 14 of 36)
● Time/Date: 6 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 29
● Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway
● Layout: 1.5-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 400 laps/600 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 100 laps / Stage 2: 100 laps / Stage 3: 100 laps / Final Stage: 100 laps
● TV/Radio: FOX / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● 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, Harvick won the 2014 Bank of America 500 in the NASCAR Cup Series’ return to the track that 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 40th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Charlotte. The Bakersfield, California-native has nine top-fives and 20 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 in the top-10 in his last four races at Charlotte and 13 times in the last 15 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 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 Camping World 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 Lance Corporal Phillip G. West of the United States Marines Corps. West was based out of Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California, where he served in the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. The American Canyon, California-native served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he was the first Napa County resident to die in the Iraq War, succumbing to injuries on Nov. 19, 2004 in Fallouja. That day, West was doing one of the many building sweeps in Al Anbar Province that he had done with precision and accuracy hundreds of times before. But upon entering a building, he was ambushed; shot several times and hit with two hand grenades. He crawled for cover and continued to fire his SAW machine gun despite suffering severe injuries to his legs, arms, chest and spine. After continuing to fire until his weapon was empty, his last act was to throw a grenade into the insurgents in an effort to try and save his fellow Marines who were advancing behind him. He died at a nearby hospital later that day. West was buried with full military honors, including a Purple Heart. In his hometown of American Canyon, the swimming complex where West worked as a lifeguard was named in his honor – the Phillip West Aquatic Center. West was deeply committed to his military service, often telling family and friends, “If we don’t do it, who’s going to do it?” West joined the Marine Corps delayed-entry program in August 2002 and after graduating from high school, he shipped off to boot camp in San Diego. He graduated from boot camp, then infantry school, and deployed to Iraq in June 2004. Once in Iraq, West achieved the rank of Lance Corporal.
● 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.
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang
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 end of the year, whatever it is – the All-Star Race used to be there – 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.”
You’ve got to be passionate to race at a high level. What made you want to race at this level, and what drives you to stay competitive at this level?
“I didn’t really know that I wanted to race at this level until I was probably 17 or 18 years old. In fact, I don’t think you’re actually qualified to know what you really want because of the fact that you don’t even really know how to live prior to that point. So for me, it’s the competitive side of it and being able to work with the guys that I have on my team in order to achieve something, and try and make our car faster than anybody else’s. To work as a group to do that is something I enjoy. I enjoy that as much as I do anything. I think being able to drive the car and do the things that you do inside it is just kind of a part of what you do anymore. But I enjoy that satisfaction of working with a group of guys toward a common goal.”
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.”
No. 4 Mobil 1 Team Roster
Primary Team Members
Driver: Kevin Harvick
Hometown: Bakersfield, California
Crew Chief: Rodney Childers
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Car Chief: Robert “Cheddar” Smith
Hometown: Whitewater, Wisconsin
Engineer: Dax Gerringer
Hometown: Gibsonville, North Carolina
Engineer: Stephen Doran
Hometown: Butler, Pennsylvania
Spotter: Tim Fedewa
Hometown: Holt, Michigan
Front Tire Changer: Shayne Pipala
Hometown: Frankfort Square, Illinois
Rear Tire Changer: Daniel Smith
Hometown: Concord, North Carolina
Tire Carrier: Jeremy Howard
Hometown: Delhart, Texas
Jack Man: Stan Doolittle
Hometown: Ninety Six, South Carolina
Fuel Man: Evan Marchal
Hometown: Westfield, Indiana
Road Crew Members
Mechanic: Richie Bean
Hometown: Bradford, Vermont
Mechanic: Nick DeFazio
Hometown: Orange, California
Tire Specialist: Jamie Turski
Hometown: Trumbull, Connecticut
Engine Tuner: Robert Brandt
Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
Transporter Co-Driver: Rick Hodges
Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina
Transporter Co-Driver: Stephen Mitchell
Hometown: Woodville, Ohio
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!