Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team travel to Darlington (S.C.) Raceway this weekend for Saturday night’s SHOWTIME Southern 500. Known as the “Lady in Black” and the “Track Too Tough to Tame” because of its degree of difficulty, the uniquely configured, 1.366-mile track has proven to be very demanding since it opened in 1950.
The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team will utilize chassis No. 304 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. In March Harvick raced his way back up to a sixth-place finish in this car at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway after getting spun out late in the race. Last season the team raced this car four times, scoring three top-five finishes: third at Richmond (5/1), fifth at New Hampshire (6/27) and third at Richmond (9/11).
Kevin Harvick discusses racing at Darlington Raceway: What makes racing at Darlington such a challenge for the drivers and teams? “The track was originally not designed for the cars to be running as fast as they are today. The track’s very narrow and you carry a lot of speed. From a driver’s standpoint, it’s very challenging just to keep the car off the wall, but it’s also a lot of fun to drive, too.”
Talk about driving a lap around Darlington. “Well, any lap around Darlington is a lap where you have to be paying attention to what’s going on because you can get yourself in trouble at any point on the race track. You carry a lot of speed into Turn 1 and you run right up the banking right up next to the wall and right back to the throttle. As you come back down the hill you might have to breathe the throttle a little bit, but it’s a lot of fun coming out of Turn 2 as it kind of shoots you down the backstretch and really (Turns) 3 and 4 are probably the hardest because you carry so much speed off of (Turn) 2 into (Turn) 3 and the line kind of moves around a bit there. Probably the easiest place to get in the wall, well it’s pretty easy to get in the wall anywhere, but definitely the easiest place to get into the wall is the middle of (Turns) 3 and 4.”
Do you remember getting your first Darlington stripe? “I don’t. I’ve had so many of them that they all kind of seem to run together now.”
What would it mean to add your name to the list of Darlington winners? “It’d be pretty awesome just for the fact that everyone knows the significance of the Southern 500 and to win at Darlington is something as a driver that you want to check off your checklist when you have the opportunity to. We’ve been close at Darlington, but we’ve just got to put that check in the right box.”