Daytona 500: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick - one busy boy. DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 11, 2003) - It's not as if GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick has something better to do. Sure, he could be relaxing in his motorcoach, watching TV, or out playing golf during his ...

Kevin Harvick - one busy boy.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 11, 2003) - It's not as if GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick has something better to do. Sure, he could be relaxing in his motorcoach, watching TV, or out playing golf during his downtime from Winston Cup racing this year. Instead, Harvick has chosen to do a little extra racing. Well, actually a lot of racing when it comes down to it.

The 27-year old California native will compete in five different racing series in 2003 - Winston Cup, Busch, Truck, IROC, and the Southwest Tour Series. It might be six if his Canadian Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (CASCAR) appearances come to fruition midseason.

Harvick has done well in the past when he's occupied his time in several cockpits throughout a year. In 2001, after taking over the ride of the late Dale Earnhardt, he simultaneously competed in the Winston Cup and Busch Series completing almost 70 races. Amazingly, he finished in the top-10 in points in both series that year, winning the Busch championship and Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year honors.

The events in Daytona Beach this week will be just a sample of what's to come for the 2002 IROC champion in the upcoming months. He'll partake in four races in four days - the Twin 125s on Thursday, the IROC race on Friday, the Busch race on Saturday, and the Daytona 500 on Sunday. This bestows on him the label of "one busy boy" this week, and throughout the rest of the 2003 season.

No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Speedweeks...

Are you ready to get the 2003 season underway? "Oh, yeah. We've had four or five tests and everything's gone good. I don't think anybody knows what's going to happen on Sunday, but so far we seem to be in pretty good shape after how we ran in the Bud Shootout and qualifying. When it comes down to the race though, it's still anybody's guess. Pretty much a wait and see process."

Tell us about your qualifying effort. "It was a good lap for the GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, although I was expecting a lot better. It's kind of frustrating when you're four-tenths off of the pole sitter's time and you're supposed to have exactly what he has. I was hoping we'd all be up in the front three spots, but we were just a little off for some reason. I'd like to give credit to all the guys back at RCR for helping us get ready for this season. They've worked hard to get us here. It's a credit to our organization to see how well all three of the teams qualified. I just wish I could've been up there on the pole."

How will you approach the Twin 125s? "Now that qualifying is over and we're not on the front row, my main focus will be on winning the race. Last year, I didn't have to worry about that as much because we qualified on the outside pole. I have a solid qualifying time to get us in the big race, but I know I can improve where we will start with a good run, and hopefully a win, in the 125s."

What did you learn from last season? "I learned that you can't race when you are in trouble. That's probably the biggest thing I learned. I put myself in that spot and had to race with one arm behind my back pretty much all year. You just can't race that way. These guys are all too good. I know I can still do the things I still do in the racecar. I just have to treat the people in the red shirts with a little more respect. We're on the same page, and I understand where they are coming from. They want me to be me. They just want to be treated with a little respect."

How's the new Chevrolet Monte Carlo? "It's totally different than anything we've had in the last three or four years for me. That's why testing was so important for us. The cars characteristics are 180 degrees opposite of where they used to be. It's going to be a little bit of a learning curve as we get used to it, just knowing the new characteristics of the racecar. We just have to keep paying attention to how the car handles, and get to know our cars."

What are your thoughts on restrictor-plate racing? "I'll put it like this. I don't have a better solution, so until somebody comes up with a better solution, there's really no reason to complain. Your car may not be the best, and it makes you mad that you can't go out and run as fast as everybody else, but you know what, that's just the way it is until somebody comes up with a better way to slow the cars down. They can't go over 190 mph because when they get turned around backwards they flip over. I don't like restrictor-plate racing as much as I do unrestricted, but it's a necessary part of out sport that NASCAR has to make rules to where the cars don't run too fast. Until somebody comes up with a better idea, I'm not going to complain about it. I'm just going to go out and race."

Points of Interest...

* Kevin Harvick started first and finished fourth in his first Twin 125 qualifying race one year ago. It was of little necessity for him to win, since he had already locked up the outside pole for Sunday's Daytona 500.

* Richard Childress Racing Enterprises, Inc. has won 13 Twin 125 events, 12 with Dale Earnhardt and one with Mike Skinner.

* Kevin Harvick started fifth and finished ninth in his first International Race of Champions (IROC) appearance at Daytona International Speedway in 2002. Harvick became the six IROC rookie to go on to win the championship.

* The Harvicks will play owner on Friday when their truck team takes to the 2.5-mile superspeedway for its first event of 2003. Ed Berrier will be behind the wheel of the No.6 Dollar Stores Chevy Silverado when the race takes the green flag on Valentine's Day.

* Harvick, the 2001 NASCAR Busch Series champion, will participate in the first Busch Series event by means of the No. 21 PayDay Chevrolet Monte Carlo for RCR on Saturday.

* Start time for Sunday's Daytona 500 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the 200-lap event on FOX starts at 1:00 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 12:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

-rcr-

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Series NASCAR-CUP