· After coasting to a second-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway, Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team look to keep lady luck on their side as they roll on to Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Kobalt Tools 400.
· Solid Start… Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team have gotten off to a solid start in 2012 after scoring back-to-back top-10 finishes in the first two races of the season with seventh and second-place results at Daytona and Phoenix, respectively. The feat marks the second time in Harvick’s 12-year NSCS career that he’s started off the season with such solid performance. Remarkably in 2010 he also scored a seventh-place finish at Daytona and earned a second-place result at Auto Club Speedway the following weekend. That year he finished second at LVMS.
· Chassis Info… The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team will utilize chassis No. 391 from the Richard Childress Racing (RCR) stable for Sunday’s race. This is a brand new race car that will make its first laps on-track at LVMS this weekend.
· Statistically Speaking… Harvick has made a total of 11 NSCS starts at LVMS. In that span he’s earned three top-five and four top-10 finishes. Harvick has completed 99.8 percent of the laps run in those 11 races (2,953 of 2,958) and he’s led 54 laps at the 1.5-mile track. Harvick has an average starting position of 23.9 and a 13.2 average finish at LVMS.
· Loop Data… Harvick has earned impressive Loop Data statistics at LVMS, including: third in closers; fifth in green-flag passes (430); seventh in fastest drivers late in a run; eighth in speed in traffic; ninth in average running position (12.912); ninth in laps in the top-15 (1,177 laps); 10th in average driver rating (92.2); 10th in fastest drivers early in a run; 10th in fastest laps run (40 laps).
· Last Year… In last year’s race at LVMS, Harvick started from the 26th position and was running inside the top-five when the team was hit with a pit road speeding penalty just past the halfway point of the race and had to restart at the tail end of the field. Mired back in traffic, Harvick struggled with a tight-handling car and finished 17th.
· Looking Back… Last weekend Harvick and the No. 29 team led the most laps at Phoenix and coasted to a second-place finish after running out of fuel in the final laps of the race. The finish moved him up to third in the NSCS driver point standings, just eight points behind leader Denny Hamlin.
Kevin Harvick discusses racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway: You finished 17th at Las Vegas last year. Is that a race that you use to benchmark your team’s intermediate program? “Not really, because I think the year before we were absolutely horrible everywhere we went on the mile-and-a-half race tracks and we ran great at Vegas. It’s got a different type of asphalt and it’s got a lot of banking and a lot of grip, so you can cover things up that you might not be able to cover up at a Kansas or some of those types of places. It’s interesting to see how it plays out through the year.”
It’s been a while since they re-did the track at Las Vegas. Is it changing or is it getting better? “It hasn’t seemed to change a lot. It seems like it’s still really fast and every time we go out there during that time of the year it’s always pretty cool so the cars seem to grip well. The way that they paved that particular race track, it started off rough and it’s still rough. I think everybody’s adapted and it adds character to the track. You can move around the race track and you have options. It’s a different race track than most everywhere else we go.”
What does it take to be successful at Vegas? “When they redid the race track, it’s just a really fast race track. (There are) several bumps in the track and you have to make sure you are pointed in the right direction to go over it straight. It’s a really fast race track and you’ve just got to have a lot of grip in the car to keep the pedal on the floor.”
I think of race car drivers as calculated gamblers. You sit there and think whether you’re 100 percent sure you can make a pass or not. Do you look at yourself as a calculated gambler? “I think you have to be to a certain extent. I also think there’s an ‘I may not make it this time’ type of move that you have to try to accomplish every once and a while to try and win a race, or put yourself in position to win a race. I think on a week-to-week basis, it’s a good description of who we are.”
Do you ever look at the book makers and the odds they give you guys for the race and wonder ‘What was that guy thinking putting me at 100 to 1?’” “I’m happy to say I don’t think we’ve ever been 100 to 1. If you mess with any of the online stuff on ESPN or anything like that, the guys that put those things together, they do a lot of research and a lot of studying and sometimes they hit it right and sometimes they don’t. More than not I’d say they hit it closer than further away.”
What do you think of people betting on you in a race? “Well, different strokes for different folks. People enjoy watching the races and people love going to Vegas and having a good time. It makes it fun.”