KEVIN HARVICK Welcome Back Todd Berrier HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 19, 2005) - On Thursday morning, when the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series garage opens at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR), a familiar face will return after a four week absence.
Welcome Back Todd Berrier
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 19, 2005) - On Thursday morning, when the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series garage opens at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR), a familiar face will return after a four week absence. GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier is back from his NASCAR suspension and ready to once again lead Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet.
When we last saw Berrier, he was helping load the fifth place finishing GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. Just two days later, he was suspended by NASCAR for four weeks, due to an unapproved fuel cell found in post qualifying inspection. Richard Childress Racing later appealed the severity of the suspension, but NASCAR upheld the ruling, as well as, the loss of 25 driver and owner points.
"We had a great weekend at Las Vegas," said Berrier. "I knew we would get penalized for the fuel cell when we left the track. I didn't expect it to be as bad as it was. But NASCAR allowed us to appeal and that's really all you can do when you do wrong. I take full responsibility for what happened and now it's time to move on."
Berrier comes back at a good time. Harvick, after winning at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway two weeks ago, is coming off of a 32nd place finish at Martinsville (Va.)Speedway and a 13th place finish at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend. Berrier is poised to get the team back into the top-five.
"We've lost a little momentum from Bristol over the last two weeks," Berrier commented. "I know that we had a top-five car at Martinsville until the clutch broke. From what the guys told me, last week the setup was pretty good, but for the first time this year, Kevin said the motor didn't have what it needed. Hopefully we can get everything working right this weekend."
The GM Goodwrench team is entering a nice stretch of races for them to build momentum back up. Harvick has two wins at PIR in the NASCAR Truck Series, so he knows how to get around the one-mile track. Next week is Talladega (Ala.), where the No. 29 has four straight top-10 and back-to-back top-five finishes. And with top-10 finishes in two out of the last three Darlington (S.C.) races, the GM Goodwrench team could put together a nice run, to set up Harvick for the summer stretch, which has always been his time to shine.
Points of Interest...
* 150th NNCS Start...Harvick will make his 150th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (NNCS) start on Saturday night at PIR. Harvick made his first Cup start at North Carolina Speedway on February 26, 2001. He finished 14th in the debut of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet.
* Night Moves...Harvick has made 22 starts under the lights in his NNCS career. The driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo has one pole, five top-fives and seven top-10 finishes at night.
* What Ya' Haulin'...The GM Goodwrench transporter will unload chassis No. 120. It is the same chassis that Harvick drove to victory at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 3rd. Harvick ran this car at PIR last year finishing fourth. In 2004, the chassis raced at Martinsville (19th) and Loudon (10th).
* Former PIR Winner...Harvick has two wins (2002 and 2003) in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition at PIR.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Phoenix International Raceway...
Are you excited to have Todd Berrier back on the pit box this weekend?
"It's going to be good to have Todd back on the box. He is the leader of this GM Goodwrench team. He put so much hard work into turning the program around this year. With that said, I can't tell you how proud I am of Scott Miller and all the guys for stepping up in Todd's absence. They did a great job and I have a lot of respect for the job that everyone did during a tough situation."
What are your thoughts about racing under the lights at PIR?
"I think it will be great for the fans. They should see a great event and being the first race under the lights here at Phoenix will make it even better. The big thing is how much, if any, the track will change. They aren't giving us a night practice, so there will be a little bit of a guess work as to what might happen. I have raced here when we have run right at sundown and the track didn't change a whole lot."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on returning as crew chief...
How difficult was the suspension?
"It was really tough not being at the track. That has been my whole life. I've been going to a race track and working on cars forever, so to be told 'you can't go' was really hard. All the guys on this GM Goodwrench team stepped up and I am really proud of them. That is one of the reasons we have kept this team together with very little change. They believe in being a team and they showed that when I was out."
Did the four races seem like forever?
"On the weekends it did. During the week, I had so much going on trying to get cars ready and work on things for down the road. The hard part was watching the race and not being able to be a part of it. Friday though Sunday felt like forever. But the rest of the week went by pretty fast".
It was obvious that NASCAR was sending you a message with severity of the penalty. Did you get the message?
"Yeah, I got the message. I think everyone else in the garage did to."
Will racing at night change what typically works?
"We really don't know. The biggest thing is going to be practicing during the heat of the day and then racing at night without any idea of what the track will do. Even at the Cup test last week, they wouldn't let anyone run at night. It will be the same for everybody, but it's going to be a shot in the dark."