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Kevin Harvick Surviving the Rock. HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (February 18, 2003) - GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick has mixed emotions about (Rockingham) North Carolina Speedway. In the three years he's taken part in NASCAR events at the high-banked...

Kevin Harvick
Surviving the Rock.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (February 18, 2003) - GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick has mixed emotions about (Rockingham) North Carolina Speedway. In the three years he's taken part in NASCAR events at the high-banked oval, he's seen the best of times and the worst of times. Needless to say, this has not left a very good taste in his mouth.

Start with Harvick's trip to Rockingham in February of 2000. Attempting to make the NASCAR Busch Series race in the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing (RCR), his qualifying time did not hold up and he was forced to go home with no provisional. This experience left him pondering what would become of the rest of his rookie season.

Skip ahead to February of 2001. Harvick was in the middle of the whirlwind of events following Dale Earnhardt's passing the weekend before. He made his Winston Cup debut in the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo and finished a respectable 14th. Later that year, Harvick returned to clinch the Busch championship one race ahead of schedule with a fifth place finish in the Sam's Club 200. This was a bittersweet ending to a grueling racing season.

This weekend Harvick returns to the "The Rock" with one thing on his mind - survival. He knows that if he can get through Sunday's Subway 400 with a top-10 finish, he's got a string of racetracks ahead where he's been dominate. Best of luck Happy.

No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on The Rock...

Do you have to change your focus from superspeedway racing to short track racing?

"I definitely think so. You have to change a lot of things just for the fact that basically you went from a zero downforce track to a high downforce, big tire-wear track like Rockingham. You really have to work on the handling of your racecar to make it work. The key is keeping the car balanced so it will start off halfway good at the beginning of a run and keep the tires underneath the car at the end of the run."

What's your main objective?

"Trying to get a top-10 and get out of there. That's my biggest concern. Obviously, we should have good racecars. We need to qualify decent and just get out of there and go to Las Vegas (Nev.) because I think we'll be really good there."

How much of a boost is your fourth place finish at Daytona?

"This is the first time we've ever came out of Daytona on a high. Two years ago everything happened with Dale and last year we came out of there with a wrecked racecar. Even though the competitor in us says we had the car to win the (Daytona) 500 last Sunday, the smart people in our heads say we should be happy with a fourth place finish. Especially after tearing the car up in the Twin 125 and having to change the motor and start in the back of the field. We're happy with it. It should be some good momentum for us. It's a good start for the year."

How was your test at Rockingham?

"Things went pretty good. I wouldn't say that we're going to go in and be a contender for the win, but we'll just have to wait and see how we unload. We should be a lot better than we have been in the past."

What did it help you with most?

"The biggest thing it helped me with was driving around the racetrack because this is probably my worst racetrack. For some reason, I don't have a lot of feel for it, and the test really helped me get some driving techniques worked out that I needed to do a little bit different."

Is it nice to be racing a little closer to home? "Oh yeah. We were down in Daytona for almost two weeks. It was nice and warm, but it wears on everybody, being around your PR guy, your crew chief, any one person on the race team for so long. I think it wears on you because basically you have to live with everybody the whole time your there."

No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Gil Martin on The Rock...

What's your biggest concern heading into Rockingham?

"Getting a good qualifying effort. You have to qualify good to get a good pick on pit road so you can start up front. It's the same every week. Tires are not really a concern because it's a standard deal for Rockingham. It's more about track position, and getting your car ready for the long runs. Everybody's tires go bad so it's not something you have to really worry about."

How important was the test?

"I think it's going to help Kevin to get his rhythm. We can take the car straight into qualifying trim instead of race mode, and get ready to qualify. I think even more important was our finish at Daytona. That was great for the guys in the shop because it sets the tone for the season. The guys at the shop will be all kicked-up and ready to go. We have a long stretch ahead of us right here and that sets the tone for everything we're doing."

Points of Interest...

* Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No.107 to Rockingham, N.C., for this weekend's 400-lap event. This chassis is brand new, and has only been tested at Kentucky Speedway (last November) and North Carolina Speedway (earlier this month).

* Harvick will participate in the Busch race on Saturday in the No. 21 PayDay Chevrolet Monte Carlo for RCR. His best start in the Busch car was third on November 3, 2001, and his best finish was second on February 24, 2001.

* Start time for Sunday's Subway 400 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the 393-mile race on FOX starts at 1:00 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 12:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

-rcr-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Kevin Harvick