Kevin Harvick: Outlasting the Long Haul HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 21, 2003) - NASCAR racing is tough, plain and simple. Overcoming the elements - the rough ride, the cramped space, and especially the long hours in the racecar - is extremely ...
Outlasting the Long Haul
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 21, 2003) - NASCAR racing is tough, plain and simple. Overcoming the elements - the rough ride, the cramped space, and especially the long hours in the racecar - is extremely important if any driver wants to be successful. Four hundred and 500-mile races are commonplace along the circuit, and most drivers get used to them as the season wears on. Then, they get blasted with the longest race of the year a third of the way through, the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Already a tough place to race, the 43-year old speedway located in Concord, N.C., is extremely taxing on drivers bodies. It's got bumps and dips, and cars tend to slide all over the 1.5-mile speedway. Throughout that time, drivers are constantly fighting gravity and 42 others just like them, all with the same mindset - to win in the heart of NASCAR country.
As if racing the 600 miles alone is not enough, GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick will endure 300 miles on Saturday afternoon running the NASCAR Busch Series Carquest Auto Parts 300. That, coupled with the Truck race and The Winston last weekend, gives him the potential to run more miles over the 10-day span than any other Winston Cup regular at 1,235.
It will be a test of strength, but if anyone is prepared to outlast the rest of the field and be at the front in the end, it's "Happy" Harvick. He almost did it with a runner-up finish in his first 600 in 2001, and we all know he's more comfortable in a racecar than just about anywhere else on earth.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Charlotte...
What will be the biggest test in Sunday's race?
"Well, the biggest thing is that it starts during the day and winds up running into the night. The car goes through drastic changes through the race, and that's the key to winning it. It's starting off with your car tight enough so that you can run until the sun goes behind the grandstands, and the track becomes completely shaded and starts to tighten back up and gain a lot of speed. It's a fine line in balancing your racecar and making it so that you can go through and keep up with each segment during the race."
How much does Lowe's Motor Speedway beat up on your body?
"It's very rough, but the race is so long that it's that extra 100 miles that's more physically and mentally demanding than anything else. It doesn't really beat it up more than any other racetracks, except for the length factor."
Is it hard to give 100% the whole time?
"The way it is now you can push yourself 99% of the time. There are situations that you get yourself in during certain times of the race that you just want to get in a rhythm and click off laps. You really pace yourself and put yourself in a position not to tear up your car, or use everything that you have up, or abuse the motor. Whatever the situation, each week it's a different scenario or something that you have to take care of. For the most part, though, you are going as hard as you can every lap." How tough is it to make it that extra 100 miles? "With all the Busch and Cup racing, you get used to being in the car for a while so you get into this mental length of a race and what it feels like to be halfway. You get used to running 400 and 500 hundred-mile races. Now, all of a sudden, you have to run that 100 extra miles. You just have to prepare for a little bit longer race mentally."
Talk about the patch in turns three and four.
"The 'Humpy Bump'. Sometimes I think Humpy (Wheeler, Track President) puts patches on his racetracks to add a new topic of conversation or to make the races a little bit more interesting. He's a good promoter and he likes to promote a good show for the fans. It just adds another characteristic to the racetrack. If you hit it wrong, it throws the car up the racetrack. As long as you roll through it at speed into the corner, you hardly notice it."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Charlotte...
What's the most important part of the car at Charlotte? Why?
"Definitely the engine. This is the longest race of the season, and we have to take care of it to ensure it will go all the way. We don't want it running at too high or low rpm's. We have to create a good handling racecar to help Harvick be competitive and around at end when it counts. Basically, it's up to taking care of the motor, and keeping the fenders on the car. Aerodynamics are big there, and we don't want to wreck early and end up driving around that whole time."
Points of Interest...
* Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 107 back to Concord, N.C., this weekend, the same one that used in The Winston last Saturday night. Raced at (Rockingham) North Carolina Speedway and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway already this season, the 2003 Monte Carlo will be back in its normal colors and fitted with a new motor.
* Harvick will pull double duty again this weekend, competing in the NASCAR Busch Series Carquest Auto Parts 300 on Saturday, May 24th. Already a two-time winner in 2003, this will be the eighth time that Harvick dons the PayDay logo.
* Start time for the Coca-Cola 600 is slated for 5:30 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on FOX starts at 5:00 p.m., with radio coverage on PRN beginning at 5:00 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.