With four races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, is ranked fifth in the driver point standings, 26 points behind the leader. He fell three positions in the standings after getting caught up in a wreck at Talladega Superspeedway. In the first six Chase races Harvick has scored one top-five and four top-10 finishes.
Harvick will be available to members of the media in the Martinsville Speedway infield media center at 10:30 a.m. on Friday.
The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team will race chassis No. 332 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) stable. It is the same chassis Harvick drove to his first NSCS win at Martinsville Speedway back in April. The No. 29 team has utilized this car a total of six times so far in 2011 to earn two wins (Martinsville and Richmond) and three top-five finishes. Harvick finished 12th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the team’s last race with this car.
Kevin Harvick on racing at Martinsville Speedway:
Coming into Martinsville Speedway, you’ve won there in Truck, Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series competition. What is it about Martinsville that works for you? “I think it’s a short track and when you go back to the roots of where we all grew up racing it was on the short tracks. Over the first several years we didn’t get a lot of the finishes that we probably deserved, whether it was from a mistake on the race track or just dumb luck. The last couple of years we’ve gotten good finishes and our cars have run fast. To finally get that check mark in the win box was important for us.”
It seems like we’ve had a number of long green-flag runs the last couple years at Martinsville. Does that change how you attack a 500-lap race there? “You can’t depend on it for sure. I guess you could say it’s dumb luck as to how it’s going to go. You can guess all you want, but it’s never going to be right. It seems as you go through the years we’ve been there and just had a ton of cautions and lately we’ve had some long stretches where we’ve pitted under green. A lot of it depends on what tire they bring as to what kind of racing you see.”
What is it that you had to learn about Martinsville to run in the top 10 as you have so many times? “Martinsville is just one of those places where we could not put a whole day together for a long time. The first couple of years I just crashed. Actually I think the first year, I got black flagged for spinning Bobby Hamilton out, with about 10 laps to go but, I think Martinsville is just one of those places on the Cup circuit that just takes some time to figure out exactly why you do not need to charge the corners so hard and let the car roll and work on your car up off the corner. After the first couple of years I felt like we were able to, I don’t know, just kind of figure out what we needed to do set-up wise but we never could put the whole day together to get the finishes. Over the last couple of years I’ve felt like we are finally running fairly well.”
Is there a difference in your mentality coming into Martinsville this weekend after winning the spring race at the track? “I think any time after you finally do something that you’ve been trying to do for a while and you finally accomplish that, it definitely eases your mind and you remember those situations and you remember the things you did to make it happen that day. In my opinion, that’s what’s great about our team. I feel like even when the cards are stacked against us or even when people count us out, I feel like we can always rebound and we can always do things that surprise people, whether it’s lead one lap or half a lap or 500 laps. Martinsville has been one of those places where we had never had all the circumstances work out for us on a whole day. I feel like we’ve run well enough to race for wins there, but just never made it happen until the spring.”
Martinsville is a track that’s kept a foothold in our sport while NASCAR has branched out to other tracks across the country. “You have to remember where your roots come from and Martinsville is a good example of that. We all grew up on short tracks and Martinsville keeps that in our sport. All of us drivers like the short-track feel that we grew up racing on, so we’re looking forward to it. It’s kind of a hometown race for us. I live about 35 minutes from the track and it’s always a fun weekend for us.”