Harvick Poised to Make First Chase Berth at Richmond; ...
Harvick Poised to Make First Chase Berth at Richmond; #29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge Promotion Resumes
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 5, 2006) -- When GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick takes to the track this weekend at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 and the seventh #29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge race, he is poised to make NASCAR's playoff format for the first time in his career. The finale of NASCAR's 10-event Race to the Chase looms Saturday night, with nine drivers battling for the eight remaining spots in the 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
Harvick, whose No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet will sport a special paint scheme with the music group Barenaked Ladies, only needs to finish 39th or better on Saturday to clinch a spot in the Chase. A Chase berth would mark the first for Richard Childress Racing since its inception in 2003 and set the stage for Harvick to become the first driver in NASCAR history to win two national series titles in the same season. Harvick has one pole, three top-five and five top-10 finishes in 11 Cup Series starts at RIR and has led in six of those 11 races for a total of 487 laps.
"I usually run pretty well at Richmond in the Cup car and the Busch car, and obviously both teams have done a great job with the cars this year," said Harvick. "Richmond is one of those tracks where you have to really be on top of your game every lap. Being able to win three Busch Series races in a row and make the Chase in one weekend would be incredible."
Regarding his strong Cup Series performance in May at Richmond, Harvick said, "It was a great showing for us. We led the most laps and ran really well, but I didn't close the deal. This time I want to close the deal and move up two spots. The last two years we have been on the outside looking in, and that's not where we feel we should be this year."
Harvick also will aim to reach several impressive career milestones in Busch Series competition on Friday night, where he could become only the second driver to win three consecutive Busch Series races at RIR. Harry Gant completed the hat trick after winning three in a row from 1991 to 1992. Furthermore, Harvick could become the fifth driver to sweep both Busch Series races at RIR in one season. Butch Lindley (1982), Gant (1991), Mark Martin (1993), and Jimmy Spencer (2001) swept in previous years. Additionally, Harvick could tie Gant for second in all-time Busch Series wins (four) at RIR, putting him only one behind Mark Martin. Harvick has one pole, three wins, seven top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 11 Busch Series starts at RIR and has led in five of those 11 races for a total of 343 laps.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick about Richmond International Raceway and the Chase...
Does the pressure of the Chase make you race any differently?
"No, not really. You go out and race as hard as you can every lap, and you try to put yourself in a position to win. If you can't do that, you try to take everything you can out of the day. To me you go out and do the same things no matter if you are in the Chase or out of the Chase. You go as hard as you can go and try not to take any chances that would make you crash or put you in an awkward position."
What do you think the turning point for the No. 29 team has been this year?
"I don't really know. I think the beginning of the summer was really good to us, but actually, all summer long we have been strong. The cars have been strong all year. It was just that we had some bad luck at the beginning of the year. But once we got rid of that and things started going the right way, the performance of our cars was still there. So, I think it was probably after the first eight or 10 races where we were able to shake some of the bad luck."
Points of Interest...
Track Stat...In 11 starts at RIR, Harvick has three top-five and five top-10 finishes. He sat on the pole and finished 10th in this race a year ago and third in May. Harvick has led in six of his 11 Richmond races for a total of 487 laps.
Avg. Start/Avg. Finish...Harvick's average starting position at Richmond is 21.2, with his best start of first coming in 2005 (he went on to finish 10th). His average finishing position is 14.0, with a best finish of second coming in 2001 (he started 22nd).
In the Loop...According to NASCAR's pre-race Loop Data statistics, Harvick leads the most categories at Richmond. He leads a total of four categories, including Driver Rating (125.5), Average Running Position (3.855), Fastest Drivers Early in a Run, and Fastest Drivers on the Frontstretch.
#29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge...Twenty-nine lucky fans will receive an all-new 2007 Chevy Avalanche if GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick wins 2 of 12 selected NASCAR Nextel Cup races. GM Goodwrench will also set up a $200,000 scholarship fund to encourage young men and women to pursue careers as automotive technicians after the two wins occur. Fans can join the challenge by visiting a Chevrolet dealership or a Chevy display at select NASCAR events to get a ticket with an official promotion code. They then visit goodwrench.com/expert, enter the promotion code and submit the registration form to receive a sweepstakes entry. They can also visit goodwrench.com/expert to get a promotion code and complete the registration process. The next Expertise Challenge race will be at Kansas Speedway on October 1st.