Finding a Happy Medium HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 29, 2003) - The next stop on the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit is the hallowed grounds of Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway. A setting where racing virtually got its start, Indy is...
Finding a Happy Medium
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 29, 2003) - The next stop on the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit is the hallowed grounds of Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway. A setting where racing virtually got its start, Indy is one of the oldest and most awe-inspiring tracks the series visits all season with its lush history and sea of fans that fill the grandstands.
Something else that Indy brings to the NASCAR circuit - uniqueness. The 2.5-mile racetrack is a flat oval, with two long straight-aways, two short straight-aways, and four wide, sweeping turns. One of the toughest things about the place, once you get past the aura of it, is figuring out the perfect mix of handling and horsepower to get through the nine-degree banked corners.
"The car really wants to push in the corners because the corners are so flat," says GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick. "The straight-aways are so long and you are carrying so much speed into the corners that you have to remember to set yourself up off the corners to get down the straight-aways. It's kind of a balance between getting down the straight-aways really fast and also getting through the corners good. You have to find an in-between for both."
Finding a happy medium shouldn't be too hard for Team GM Goodwrench. In Harvick's first two appearances in the Brickyard 400, he has progressively improved with an 11th and fifth place finish, respectively. Sounds like the perfect time to keep his summer momentum going.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on IMS...
What are your thoughts on Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
"It's a unique racetrack with the four-corners set-up like they are. The racetrack is so flat that it makes the car push a lot so you have to know how to make your car handle. We've always run well at Indy, and hopefully someday we can win a race there."
How special is this place?
"Indianapolis Motor Speedway has as much, if not more history than Daytona (Fla.). It's not only a place you want to win at, but it's a challenge to make your car run fast. There's a lot of pride that goes into that race. If you can win it, you've done something not a lot of people have. Just driving around Indy is really cool for me. It's like driving through a tunnel of people with the grandstands on both sides. When you drive down into the 90-degree corners, it seems like you are driving right into a sea of people. It's pretty incredible."
Talk about the turns.
"You carry a lot of speed off into the corners. You have to get the car to the bottom of the racetrack, then right back out to the wall. Turns one and three are a lot alike. As you come into turns two and four, they're virtually identical. That's what carries your speed down each straightaway. You want to set yourself up good into those corners where you don't have to let up very much getting into those corners. That will help you get off the corner better and back down the longer straight-aways."
How big of an open-wheel fan are you?
"I was always a big fan of Rick Mears. He was very successful at Indy and in Indy cars period. Being from Bakersfield, that was the natural guy to cheer for, and I was surrounded by Clint and Casey (Mears) racing go-karts around the same time I was. I was always around stock cars, though. My dad was into stock cars and on the weekends all we watched were Winston Cup races. Whatever type of racing was on, I'd watch, but he wasn't in to it as much as I was."
Ever thought about hopping in an open-wheel car?
"I've thought about it. It'd be fun to try it a couple of times, but I don't have the desire to race it full-time. I spent a lot of time growing up racing go-karts in an open-wheel car, but my dad spent most of his time on stock cars so it was logical for me to get involved in that. I'm extremely happy with what I've accomplished here, and the potential that's still out there."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on IMS...
What's the toughest part of a big flat track like Indy?
"The toughest part of Indy is figuring out how to get the car off the corners and down the straight-aways. That's where you are going to gain and loose the most ground. The place is set-up like a square, with four distinct corners. Robby (Gordon, teammate) tested there a few weeks ago and we hope to take what he learned, plus what we know from running there with Kevin, and put a good combination together."
Points of Interest...
Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 88 to Indianapolis, Ind., the same car they finished 13th with at Las Vegas, Nev., earlier this season. This chassis, used extensively throughout 2002, won at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway, and finished fifth at Indy last year.
Last Sunday's race in Pocono, Pa., was the first time in the last four events that the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year did not spend some time in the lead. The 12th place finish was his career second-best effort there, however, and it keeps his string of top-20 finishes in tact with six in the last six races.
We are exactly 20 races into the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season and Harvick is one of only three drivers in the top-10 to have not recorded a DNF. The other two, points leader Matt Kenseth and 2003 Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip.
Start time for the Brickyard 400 is slated for 2:30 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on NBC starts at 2:00 p.m., with radio coverage on IMS beginning at 2:00 p.m. as well. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.