It’s Homecoming week for Kevin Harvick as he heads to the Auto Club 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is from Bakersfield, Calif., which is about three hours north of Fontana. There will be no cheerleaders, bands or football players, however. Instead, it will be members of his Mobil 1 crew and a loud and powerful No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang that will greet him as he returns to his home state.
Fontana has been good to Harvick as he has one win, seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 27 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at the 2-mile oval. The 44-year-old driver has led 237 laps there and has an average starting position of 14.8, an average finish of 15.4, and has completed 98.6 percent – 5,874 of 5,956 – of the laps he’s contested.
“Auto Club Speedway is by far one of my favorite tracks we go to,” Harvick said ahead of this weekend’s race. “It’s top three on my list as far as tracks that I’m excited to go to, just for the fact that the asphalt is so worn out. It is very similar to Atlanta in a much different shape of a racetrack. It’s a very unique racetrack because it is so wide and you have so many options to run all over the racetrack. When you add in the tire falloff, then it becomes strategy and how many laps do you stay out when everybody else starts pitting because you’re going to give up three seconds a lap. If the caution comes out, you can get caught a lap down. So there are so many things that come into play, but it has become a great race and a great racetrack to race on. The crowd has been great since we went from two races down to one. It has changed the whole vibe at Auto Club Speedway. It’s in my home state. It’s a big week and I know, from a driver standpoint, Auto Club Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway are right up there at the top of everybody’s list because there is so much falloff and the asphalt is so worn out.”
He has competed in some sort of race at Fontana every year since 1997, the year Auto Club Speedway opened. He started in October of that year in a NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race driving for Wayne Spears. He finished 20th. No one, probably not even Harvick, could have imagined he would race there each year since. He now enters his fourth decade of racing at Fontana.
In addition to crew chief Rodney Childers and the No. 4 team helping Harvick, he will also have the support again of sponsor and technical partner Mobil 1.
Mobil 1 isn’t just the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, it also provides the entire SHR team with leading lubricant technology, ensuring that all SHR Mustangs have a competitive edge over the competition on the track. In its 18th 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 is hoping he can put the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang in victory lane at Fontana. Because much like any Homecoming game, it’s much sweeter when it ends with a win.