Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team will kick off the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season with Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.
Hall of Famer… On Wednesday, February 1, Harvick became the fourth driver to be inducted into the Bob Elias Kern County Sports Hall of Fame in his hometown of Bakersfield, Calif. Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears, off-road champion Roger Mears and Indy 500 competitor George Snider are also enshrined there.
Chassis Info…The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team will utilize Chassis No. 295 in Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout. Harvick drove this car to Victory Lane in the 2010 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and also scored a seventh-place finish with it in the Daytona 500 that February.
Budweiser Shootout Stats…Harvick has made seven previous starts in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. He raced his No. 29 Chevrolet to Victory Lane twice in the Budweiser Shootout (2009 and 2010) and has earned four top-five and six top-10 finishes in the event. He’s led a total of 43 laps and completed 88.8 percent of the laps run (454 of 511) in the races he competed in. Harvick’s average finish in the Budweiser Shootout is 6.6.
Last Year…In last year’s Budweiser Shootout, Harvick started the race from the 18th position and drafted with his RCR teammate, Jeff Burton, for much of the race before scoring a seventh-place finish.
Kevin Harvick on racing at Daytona International Speedway:
After the winter off season is it good to run Budweiser Shootout and knock some of the rust off? "I think so. I think anytime you can get on the race track in a competitive environment, it gives you a better idea of what you’re going to have. I think it enables us to kind of knock some of that rust off. As fast as the cars are and as many unknowns as there are, the Budweiser Shootout is definitely something that we’re all looking forward to.”
Is the Budweiser Shootout going to be a good indicator as to what you guys can and can’t do in relation to the two-car pushing after NASCAR has made the rule changes? “To a certain degree; obviously there’s probably going to be a huge temperature change from when we run the Daytona 500 in the afternoon to what we do on the night of the Budweiser Shootout. Mother Nature will definitely play a huge hand in the true effect of things, but the Budweiser Shootout is the closest you’ll get up until the (Daytona) 500.
How different was this past off season for you? “It’s been really good. (DeLana and I) went on vacation a few times and that’s something we haven’t had the chance to do a lot before. It’s been very relaxing. I was really kind of worried about being bored, but we’ve been anything but bored. It seems like you can always find something to do. Aside from my driving duties and the responsibilities that come with that, there’s no longer an absolute deadline and there’s not a 100 questions that you have to answer every day. It’s been very relaxing and good to recharge the batteries.”
What does that do for you going into the new season when you’ve had that type of an off season for the first time? “I think it’s one of those things where we, including myself and everyone at RCR, have made more changes this year than we ever have. I think that’s the type of aggressiveness that you’re going to have to have within the company and the teams, and the kind of mindset that you’re going to have to have to get the championship. We’ve been close the last couple of years. Nobody really did anything wrong, we just needed to get better. In order for the No. 29 to get better, the No. 27 and No. 31 have to get better, too, in order to keep driving the performance to where it needs to be. As a company, I think the attitude and the enthusiasm is good. With the Nationwide Series shop being here there’s just more information, there’s more people and there’s more stuff flowing and that was always something we had in the past when we were winning a lot of races. Right now everything is going good and we’ll just keep plugging away.”
What’s your outlook going into this year? How long do you think it’ll take to develop chemistry with your new crew chief, Shane Wilson? “From here forward the only thing that’s acceptable is to win a championship. Obviously the goal is to go out and win races, but the championship is really what we’re after. We’ve made the changes that we think are going to be better. Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t., but we had to do something to make the whole organization better. Shane and I have worked together in the past and I don’t really have a timeframe in mind for the chemistry to work in. I expect it to work right off the bat. We’re going to plug along as hard as we can. We’ve got some good plans and had some well-organized tests. I expect to go to Daytona and have a chance to win.”