After celebrating last Sunday’s win with a “Budweiser bath” in Victory Lane at Auto Club Speedway, Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team will race a bit closer to home in this weekend’s Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team hauler drivers Mark Williams and Barry Sheppard both call Martinsville, Va., area home. While they drove approximately 2,408 miles one way from the Richard Childress Racing shop in Welcome, N.C., to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., for last weekend’s Auto Club 400, this week they’ll drive just over 125 miles round trip for the race at Martinsville Speedway. Harvick will race chassis No. 332 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend at Martinsville. Earlier this year he drove this Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway.
· In 19 starts at Martinsville Speedway, Harvick has earned one top five and eight top-10 finishes. He’s completed 97.2 percent (9,250 of 9,519) total laps and has led a total of 301 laps at the Martinsville, Va., track. Harvick has an average starting position of 14.6 and an average finishing position of 17.3 at the 0.526-mile track.
· Harvick and RCR’s No. 29 team had a solid start in last spring’s race at Martinsville Speedway. Harvick started the race from the pole position and led 57 laps before mechanical problems sent him to the garage for repairs. He finished the race 100 laps down in 35th position. When the No. 29 team visited the short track in October, Harvick led 97 laps and took home a third-place finish.
· Harvick’s last-lap pass for the win in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 earned the Bakersfield, Calif., native his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in his home state, and moved him up six spots in the driver point standings to ninth position leading into Sunday’s race at Martinsville. Five races into the 2011 season, Harvick has earned one win, two top fives and three top-10 finishes.
· In addition to his driving duties with the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team, Harvick will drive the No. 2 Tide/Kroger Chevrolet Silverado for Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Harvick has ended the past two spring Truck Series races at the short track in Victory Lane in the No. 2 Chevrolet for KHI. Saturday’s Kroger 250 will air live on SPEED at 2 p.m. EDT. MRN Radio and SIRIUS NASCAR Radio will provide the live radio coverage of the event.
· This week in Budweiser Racing history: On April 29, 1990, Geoff Bodine won the Hanes Activewear 500 at Martinsville Speedway in the No. 11 Budweiser ride for team owner Junior Johnson. Bodine started the race from the pole position, led 270 laps and had a 4.5-second lead when he took the checkered flag. The win was the first of three trips to Victory Lane that year for Bodine and the Budweiser Racing team.
Kevin Harvick discusses racing at Martinsville Speedway:
You had a really good car last year at Martinsville and led 57 laps. How frustrating was it for something mechanical to pop up and end the race 35th when you had a car that could have won? “Well, I think as you look at Martinsville, the past finishes haven’t reflected how our cars have run. Last year for both races, we had really good cars. We led a bunch of laps and got a finish we thought we were capable of getting in the second race. I think we finished third or fourth. For us, it’s a fun race track. It’s kind of our home race track, I guess you could say. It’s so close to the shops, and you end up having a lot of people from the shops come and watch. It’s just one of those places that you have to race all day, and you have to try and keep your track position, and all the parts, pieces and fenders on it. It’s a race track that I really enjoy running at. Sooner or later, we’re going to win a race there because we’ve run well there for years.”
Speaking of the fall race last year, you led 97 laps and came home with a top-five finish. Did you feel at some point during that race that you had a shot at taking on Denny Hamlin or Jimmie Johnson? “Yeah, honestly, we had the No. 48 beat for most of the day. The No. 11, we had him beat most of the day. He really came on the last couple of runs. We had a couple of really long runs and our car fell off 80 or 90 laps into the long runs. Normally at Martinsville that doesn’t happen. You don’t get those extremely long runs, and we had a couple of them at the end of that race. The No. 11 just beat us there at the end. I would take the same stuff back there that we had the last time. I would take my chance at being fast for 75 to 80 laps instead of worrying about 100 laps any day at Martinsville.”
That second race there, you and teammate Jeff Burton got into it. You’ve told me in the past that when these things happen they make you stronger teammates. It gives you a clearer picture on how to race each other, and how to be fair to one another. Is that what happened after that? “That wasn’t the first time that those things have happened. I think we’re all competitive. I think we expect those competitive reactions out of one another. Really, when the race is over, it doesn’t bother either one of us as long as it doesn’t affect the teams. We’ll sit down and talk about it. A lot of times you end up laughing just how your emotions are so much different inside the car. Then you wind up talking about a bunch of other things. It’s no different than having a spat in your own family. You have a spat that leads to something that makes everyone better and leads you forward in situations in a competitive environment. It turned out fine.”