NASCAR: Kevin Harvick talks Mobil 1, the season ahead, SHR dynamic

We recently had a conversation with Kevin Harvick about his relationship with Mobil 1 and about the upcoming 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Days before the start of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, we had the opportunity to have a conversation with 2014 champion Kevin Harvick about his relationship with longtime sponsor Mobil 1 and about the upcoming season in general.

Harvick, who drives the #4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing and recently signed an extension through 2023, is in a new Mobil 1 “Tiny Driver” advertisement ahead of the upcoming 36-race campaign along with teammate Clint Bowyer.

The new Mobil 1 Rave advertisement is currently running on Hulu and Roku today, but not yet on TV screens; it is slated to appear on TV screens later in February.

Mobil 1 has been associated with Stewart-Haas Racing since before Harvick arrived with the organization in 2014, and the 44-year-old Bakersfield, California native echoed the fact that the partnership has been very successful for all parties involved.

The “Tiny Driver” commercials are rather goofy commercials that have become something fans certainly look forward to watching on Sundays. Harvick added that anytime Bowyer, who is known among fellow drivers and fans for his goofy charisma, is in the room, there’s always going to be that kind of dynamic. Bowyer has driven for Stewart-Haas Racing since 2017.

Stewart-Haas Racing have undergone several driver changes over the years, with the 2020 season marking the fourth consecutive season to feature just three of the four drivers from the previous year.

After 2016, it was Bowyer replacing team co-owner Tony Stewart. Then after 2017, Danica Patrick retired, and the team brought in Aric Almirola. After 2018, Kurt Busch left for Chip Ganassi Racing, and the team signed Daniel Suarez.

Now after the 2019 season, Suarez was replaced by rookie Cole Custer.

But despite Custer’s age and his status as a rookie, Harvick is confident that there is still going to be a great dynamic within the team because of how long he has been within the organization and because he was able to make the transition together with crew chief Mike Shiplett.

Custer is set to enter the Cup Series as a part of a stacked rookie class that features the “Big 3” of recent Xfinity Series seasons, which also includes Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Leavine Family Racing’s Christopher Bell. Custer spent three years with Stewart-Haas Racing at NASCAR’s second highest level.

Harvick was optimistic about the new short track package that is slated to be introduced ahead of the 2020 season after the high downforce package did not perform quite as anybody had hoped on the tracks a mile or less in length.

He added that he is excited for the season finale to be held at Phoenix Raceway this year despite the fact that he hasn’t been as dominant there as he once had, in part because of the introduction of the new package.

“Change is good for our sport,” Harvick told Beyond the Flag when asked about the shift in venue, and about the 2020 schedule overhaul in general.

He made an extra note of the fact that bringing the championship race to a different city is especially beneficial after 18 consecutive seasons of it being held at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

He also discussed the excitement that having the regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway should provide after it was moved from its traditional July 4th weekend after six decades.

For this year’s regular season finale, it will be not specifically about whether a certain driver can win to get into the playoffs like it has been in the past; anyone can win at a superspeedway track such as Daytona, and that added excitement could be just what the sport needs.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s 2019 season was not nearly as successful as their 2018 campaign, as their win total dropped from 12 to four, but Harvick, who earned a career-high eight victories in 2018, joked that it was somewhat of a funny comparison because he still ended up in the Championship 4 both years. In fact, he has only missed it once (2016) since it was introduced in 2014.

It took Harvick until more than half of the 2019 season not only to win a race but to finish a race in the top three, yet he still put a run together at the right time and led the Ford drivers with four victories, qualified for the Championship 4 and finished in third place in the championship standings as the highest Ford driver.

“Anytime you win four races, that’s still a great year.”

Finally, Harvick discussed his plan for the upcoming Daytona weekend, from tomorrow night’s Bluegreen Vacations Duels to Sunday afternoon’s Daytona 500.

The Duels will set the starting order for Sunday’s main event, but a lot has been made about the fact that drivers will be looking to get experience in the draft more than anything else with this year’s Daytona 500 set to be the first with the new superspeedway package that was introduced last April at Talladega Superspeedway.

For Harvick, however, the goal is simply to put himself in a position where he can win Sunday’s race, which primarily revolves around staying out of trouble both days. As we saw in this past Sunday’s Busch Clash, that might be easier said than done.

Harvick won his Duel race last year.

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The Bluegreen Vacations Duels are set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 from Daytona International Speedway beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET tomorrow evening, and the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 is set to be broadcast live on Fox from the track beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 16.