Kevin Harvick: five to go. HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 14, 2003) - The 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season is rapidly approaching it's own checkered flag. With five races to go, Team GM Goodwrench and driver Kevin Harvick are setting their ...
Kevin Harvick: five to go.
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 14, 2003) - The 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season is rapidly approaching it's own checkered flag. With five races to go, Team GM Goodwrench and driver Kevin Harvick are setting their sights on capturing the last Winston Cup trophy to be given away before the series sponsor changes over to NEXTEL in 2004.
"It's kind of unique for this whole team to be in a position to think we have a shot at the championship," says the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year. "There's definitely some electricity and some excitement. There's a little extra effort in everything. In early July we were over 600 points behind. We're still a fair amount back and Matt's (Kenseth) still going to have to have more problems for us to beat him. For the most part, we just have to keep doing what we've been doing, run up front and lead laps. We can't control what he does."
First up with five to go is Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, one of the toughest short tracks on the Winston Cup Series circuit. Resurfaced in the corners in 2002, its .526-mile, flat racing surface barely contains the 43-car field that can easily stretch its circumference from front to back.
The last time the series visited the paper clip shaped oval in April, Harvick came away with more than a 16th place finish, his best in four Winston Cup Series starts. He also left with burnt heels, the victim of a hot floorboard and some bad gel pads in his shoes. Don't worry, everything has heeled. And he definitely learned a valuable lesson in the process.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Martinsville...
Talk about the spring race.
"We had a great car from the start, and it showed with how quickly we went to the front. Then, the heels of my feet began to burn like they did in the truck race the day before. That kind of forced me to hold back a little and not race as hard as I usually can. The guys had great pit stops the whole time and that helped keep me in it. It was just so hot and slick out there that the car would slide all over the place in and off the corners. We tried to fix it, but it was just too much."
What's it like racing at Martinsville?
"It's great because I get to sleep in my own bed for a weekend. It's only about 30 minutes from home so the commute to the racetrack won't be bad at all. As far as racing goes, the track is small and the racing is tight. It's usually a long, hard day with all the beating and banging. It's hard to get a good finish without having something happen."
What happened with your heels?
"That was my fault. I put some stuff in my shoes that melted to my foot. Turns out it was a bad idea, a really bad idea. Once they got hot, they kept getting hotter and they never got cool. My left foot wasn't bad, but my right foot, I couldn't even put tennis shoes on. It definitely hurt. I had to wear sandals or walk around bare foot most of the time in order for them to recover. Luckily, we had that next week off to give it some time. I'll never do that again."
How was the racetrack resurfaced?
"What they did was went in and grounded it on the bottom and they took out big chunks and the bottom is real slick. It helped to create a bottom groove, but it hurt the side by side racing. In order to win the race, your car needs to handle good on the bottom. You're going to get run into at some point during the day, and you're going to run into somebody when they all check-up and stack-up. It's just too small a track for it not to happen. You have to keep the brakes on it. Keep the radiator in it. If you can do that and stay on the lead lap, you are going to have a good finish."
Are you keeping a close eye on Matt Kenseth down the stretch?
"I think you have to pay attention. You want to outrun him really bad every week right now so you pay more attention to him than you do everybody else. Anytime you can do that, you are going to gain ground on him whether he's running 30th and you are running 15th, you're still gaining the points you need to be gaining. The main thing is knowing that those guys have had the year they've had, and they've earned the right to have the lead they have."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Martinsville...
What's your take on Martinsville?
"It's a short, round concrete racetrack that they tore up last year trying to make a second groove. Track position is everything, and it's very hard to pass. Brakes are something you need to concentrate on conserving, while the tires don't seem to matter much at all."
Points of Interest...
* Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 111 to Martinsville this weekend, different from what they ran in the spring. This car, wrecked at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway last month, was also run at (Loudon) New Hampshire International Speedway in July.
* Crew chief Todd Berrier won his first NASCAR Truck Series race at Martinsville with Jay Sauter on September 26, 1998. It was Berrier's 38th start as crew chief for Richard Childress Racing's No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado.
* With five races to go in the 2003 season, Harvick stands as the only driver in the top-10 NASCAR Winston Cup Series points standings still without a single DNF.
* Start time for the Subway 500 is slated for 12:30 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on NBC starts at 12:00 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 12:00 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.