Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will make his 34th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in Sunday’s Overton’s 400. Harvick has won on short tracks, intermediate tracks, road courses and superspeedways, but it’s Pocono’s unique three-turn circuit that continues to leave him puzzled.
The “Tricky Triangle” is one of only three racetracks where Harvick has yet to record a NASCAR Cup Series win. Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta are the other two.
Harvick is hoping it is the fuel mileage, engine efficiency and reliability delivered under the hood by Mobil 1 that should prove to be the biggest advantage for his team at the demanding three-turn, 2.5-mile, triangular racetrack. Mobil 1 touches every major moving part in SHR’s cars and that translates to better lap times.
After all, the last time Harvick drove a Ford Fusion with Mobil 1 on the hood, he raced his way to victory at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway – scoring his first Cup Series victory in 19 starts at the 1.99-mile road course.
The Bakersfield, California, native has run well at Pocono, scoring nine top-five finishes and 14 top-10s in his 33 career Cup Series starts, but has yet to reach victory lane in NASCAR’s top series. He seems to be getting close, however, as he’s scored runner-up finishes in three of his last six Cup Series starts at Pocono.
In August 2014, Harvick started sixth, led five laps and finished second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. by .228 of a second. Last June, he started fifth, led 39 laps and was runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. by 1.346 seconds.
In his most recent attempt, Harvick started 12th and nearly pulled off the victory in the closing laps with a heavily damaged motor after missing a shift on a late-race restart. He finished just .139 of a second behind race-winner Ryan Blaney.
Harvick does have a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Pocono, scoring the win from the pole position while driving for his own team on Aug. 7, 2011. He led 44 of 53 laps to beat Kyle Busch to the finish line by 1.140 seconds.
Twenty races into 2017, Harvick sits third in the Cup Series standings and trails leader Martin Truex Jr. by 97 points. He is also tied for sixth in Cup Series playoff points with eight to his credit with six races to go before the start of the 2017 playoffs.
While Harvick and the No. 4 team are virtually a lock to make the 16-driver field for the playoffs, gaining bonus points for additional stage and race wins is now their top priority through the next six races, starting this weekend at Pocono.