In 2013, ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series profiled the 1983 North Carolina State Wolfpack men’s basketball team that won the national championship. The title was simple: “Survive and Advance.”
The same phrase applies to the NASCAR playoffs. With four drivers eliminated after each three-race round before the championship race Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, everyone needs to bring his A-game. Doesn’t matter how he moves on, he just has to “Survive and Advance.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has qualified for the Championship 4 at Homestead four times in the last five years. The team won the 2014 championship, finished runner-up in the 2015 title chase to champion Kyle Busch, finished eighth in 2016 and third in 2017 and 2018.
So SHR’s No. 4 team knows how the playoffs work and it got off to a great start at last weekend’s playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Harvick finished second. That moved him from fourth to second in the playoff standings with 2,079 points, three markers behind leader Martin Truex Jr. Harvick is now 52 points ahead of top-12 cutoff, which will occur after the Sept. 29 race on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway roval.
With race two of this year’s playoffs Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Harvick head to the three-quarter-mile oval where he has been stellar over the years. He has three wins, four poles, 15 top-five finishes, 24 top-10s and has led a total of 1,139 laps in his 37 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond. The last time he finished outside the top-15 there was April 2012, and he’s finished in the top-five nine times in the 14 races since.
As always, Harvick will have the support of Mobil 1 as a technical partner and sponsor this weekend. Mobil 1 isn’t just the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, it also provides the entire SHR organization with leading lubricant technology, ensuring that all SHR Mustangs have a competitive edge over the competition on the track. In its 17th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series.
Harvick and the rest of the No. 4 team are looking for another good run at Richmond, which certainly help them “Survive and Advance.”
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What do you think enabled Stewart-Haas Racing to really take off so quickly with Ford?
“We are finishing our third year, now. For us, we were obviously involved in the new design of the Mustang from a team standpoint, so you got to develop a car with Ford. Ford is very into racing. I think in the beginning, in 2017, there was a very big effort in order to get the company switched over. It all comes down to people, having good people. And we have great owners who let us do the things we need to do to put the cars on the racetrack and be competitive.”
What is the game plan as the playoffs continue?
“We want to just hammer away race by race. I think the backup plan is to survive and advance, but we want to win. We want to be racing for the lead and trying to win stages and be aggressive. I think being aggressive is just going to bite you less than kind of being passive and just trying to mediocre your way into the next round by looking at the points. We want to go out there and try to do the things we have done all year and lean on our experience of being in these types of situations before there is nothing that is going to surprise us. Anything that happens that is off the wall shouldn’t be a surprise to us because we have been a part of some of those situations and seen them as we have gone through the playoffs. You have to adapt and adjust as the weeks go by, but it is definitely an aggressive, one-week-at-a-time approach.”
Is there a track you raced at this year that you can apply toward Homestead, where this thing will get decided?
“I don’t think so. I think Homestead is obviously a very unique racetrack on its own and you have to prepare for that racetrack a little differently because it isn’t your normal 1.5-mile setup you need because of the way you enter and exit the corners with the flat straightaways. As a driver, you have to be prepared to run up against the wall and do the things it takes. It is always a challenging weekend because of the fact things are different and you scramble and it is hot. It will be different, just like everywhere else has been this year.”
Why do your prefer Mobil 1 synthetic?
“I’m a synthetic guy because, in 1993 when we were sitting in the engine shop, we dumped Mobil 1 synthetic in and that’s all we did and gained seven horsepower. From that day on, we would actually save our money and then go to the local auto parts store because, at that time, it was like $5.50 a quart and the conventional and other oils were like $3.50. At the big races, we would put the Mobil 1 in the car and the regular races would put the regular oil in there. You know I’m going to say synthetic.”