Kevin Harvick Minding his manners in Martinsville. HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 8, 2003) - Martinsville (Va.) Speedway breeds mayhem. Anytime you stack 43 vehicles along a half-mile stretch of concrete and tell them to go as fast as they can, you...
Minding his manners in Martinsville.
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 8, 2003) - Martinsville (Va.) Speedway breeds mayhem. Anytime you stack 43 vehicles along a half-mile stretch of concrete and tell them to go as fast as they can, you are asking for trouble. A good example of that was last year's NASCAR Truck Series 250. NASCAR parked Kevin Harvick, already on probation from an incident in Bristol, Tenn., after an on-track incident late in the race. The probation carried over into Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series race, which he was forced to miss and watch from home.
You might think Harvick would be on his best behavior this weekend as he heads back to Martinsville to participate in both the NASCAR Truck and Winston Cup Series events for the second year in a row. Well, think again. This time around, he intends to be right in the mix and race as hard, if not harder, than he did before.
The difference, he'll admit, is that he will have to be a little more careful in how he handles situations on and off the racetrack. He knows he made a few mistakes last year, and might have taken some situations a little too far. However, sitting out the Winston Cup race and having to watch himself all last year while on probation only made him smarter as a driver and a person.
Now, Harvick's main focus will be on figuring out how to get around the .533-mile paper clip shaped oval. His average finish in three starts is 29th, and he's got to do better than that if he wants to continue the strong points run with the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Racing team. That's where running the truck race again will come in handy because it will allow him to get a better grasp on the resurfaced racetrack. He just needs to remember to mind his manners.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Martinsville...
What's it like racing at Martinsville?
"It's great because I get to sleep in my own bed for the first weekend in a while. 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."
How frustrating was it to sit out a race?
"Actually, it was kind of relaxing. I had a barbecue at my shop, watched the race with friends, and learned my lesson. I obviously wanted to be racing, but I put myself in that spot and that's the way it works. Now, it's all back to normal. I can go back and race harder than I did last time there. I'm not in trouble, and know what I need to do. I know how to handle situations better."
How's the racetrack now that they've resurfaced it?
"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."
Can you take anything from your first short track race of the season at Bristol?
"Not really. Track position is definitely key at Martinsville, just like Bristol, but as far as driving styles, the characteristics of the two racetracks are totally opposite. At Martinsville, you really have to focus on getting off the corners and making sure you have good forward bite, but your car still has to turn in the center. That and keeping the brakes on the car are probably the two most important things to remember. The pace is also a lot slower than Bristol."
How much will running the truck race on Saturday help?
"It'll definitely help to get a good rhythm on the racetrack. I didn't have a whole lot of luck the first few times in a Winston Cup car there, and at this race last year I had a great qualifying effort (seventh) and had to sit it out. Our truck's been running good, and that will help. But the biggest reason we decided to run this race at the beginning of the season was just so I could get some extra track time and find my rhythm."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Martinsville...
What's your rundown of 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. It's usually a hot weekend and tempers tend to flare with how tight the racing gets. It's typical short track racing, and we're glad we have Harvick behind the wheel because we know how well he runs on them."
Points of Interest...
* GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier won his first NASCAR Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway with Jay Sauter on September 26, 1998. It was Berrier's 38th start as crew chief for Richard Childress Racing's No. 3 GM Gooodwrench Chevrolet Silverado.
* Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No.110 to Martinsville for this weekend's Winston Cup race. This chassis, new for 2003, ran the first short track race of the year at Bristol Motor Speedway where Harvick started 27th and finished seventh.
* Start time for Sunday's Virginia 500 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on FOX starts at 12:30 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.