Uncertainty is Certain at Talladega HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 3, 2006) -- Thanks to restrictor-plate racing, Talladega Superspeedway, the site of the fourth 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event, could provide GM Goodwrench driver ...
Uncertainty is Certain at Talladega
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 3, 2006) -- Thanks to restrictor-plate racing, Talladega Superspeedway, the site of the fourth 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event, could provide GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick and the nine other Chase contenders with their most unpredictable set of circumstances yet. Only 96 points separate fifth-place Harvick from series leader and Richard Childress Racing (RCR) teammate Jeff Burton, the closest such margin through three Chase races since the inception of the format three years ago. Add Talladega's first repaving job in 26 years, and anything can happen on the tricky Alabama tri-oval.
"The only thing I have heard about Talladega is that it is really, really smooth," said Harvick. "(During testing,) the speeds were the same, and tire wear was minimal. From the driver's standpoint, it is probably going to be easier to drive around and not worry about the bumps. We will see what happens when we get there. The pictures look nice and they did a great job on the striping. It looks great."
The use of restrictor plates to control engine horsepower and thereby reduce speeds creates close pack racing at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Competing inches apart leaves little room for error, and mistakes can ruin a good finish not only for the drivers who make them, but for their competitors, too. Planning rather than reacting is key at Talladega. Drivers who help each other, help themselves, and RCR teammates Harvick, Burton and rookie Clint Bowyer plan to stick together in order to maximize performance and avoid the "big one."
"I know we have built a good car, but that is about all I know," said Harvick. "I know I am looking forward to going to Talladega. We know it can be a 50/50 chance of wrecking, but there is nothing we can do about that. I just have to go as hard as I can go and see where I fall with all that stuff."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick about Talladega Superspeedway and the Chase...
Do you race non-Chase drivers differently than Chase contenderse?
"I don't think so. I know there has been a lot made of racing guys differently. I have been on that side of it the last couple years. No matter what series you are in, the last couple races of the year, if you are racing the guys who are racing for the championship, you give them a little extra room. When you are out on the racetrack, everybody has something at stake. Everybody is trying to win the race, and everybody is trying to get as high in the points as they can. If you get caught up in all that, you are probably putting more into it than necessary."
How do you stay loose and relaxed during the Chase?
"There really is no need to make more out of it than we need to. It is just another race. We are doing everything we can do to be at the top of our game, putting out the equipment on the racetrack that we have. The rest of it is circumstances like luck and making the right calls when they need to be made. We feel like the things we can control, everybody has done a good job putting things together. The rest will just kind of fall into place."
Points of Interest...
* Track Stat...In 11 starts at Talladega, Harvick has three top-five and five top-10 finishes. He started 42nd and finished 10th in this race a year ago and 23rd in May. Harvick has led in seven of his 11 Talladega appearances for a total of 54 laps.
* Avg. Start/Avg. Finish...Harvick's average starting position at Talladega is 18.8, with his best start of first coming in 2005 (he went on to finish 12th). His average finishing position is 14.4, which is second among Chase contenders. Harvick has two runner-up finishes at Talladega (April 2003, October 2004).
* Talladega Race in May...After starting 42nd, Harvick and the No. 29 GM Goodwrench team persevered in the rain postponed Aaron's 499 to finish 23rd. On Lap 9, Kyle Busch brought out the first caution when he tangled with Martin Truex Jr., causing Harvick to check up and be hit from behind by Hermie Sadler. The damage to the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevy was so severe that crew chief Todd Berrier brought the car down pit road four times to make adjustments. On Lap 39, Harvick found himself with a right-front tire down as he made his way through the tri-oval, which brought out the second caution of the day. On Lap 172, Harvick was black-flagged by NASCAR because his right rear corner panel was flapping from the early contact with Sadler. Harvick went on to finish a lap down to race winner Jimmie Johnson and was classified 23rd.
* Chase for the NEXTEL Cup...Harvick finished 15th at Kansas Speedway last weekend to retain his fifth-place spot in the standings. He has ranked in the top 10 in the last 23 races, since Texas in April. Harvick has 15 top-10 finishes in 2006 and has never won a restrictor-plate event.
* #29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge...Four events remain in the Expertise Challenge, in which a total of 29 lucky fans will receive an all-new 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche if Harvick wins 2 of 12 selected NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races. With one win in the record books, Harvick only needs one more to complete the Expertise Challenge. GM Goodwrench also will establish a $200,000 scholarship fund to encourage young men and women to pursue careers as automotive technicians following the two victories. 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 can also visit goodwrench.com/expert to get a promotion code and complete the registration process. The next Expertise Challenge race will be at Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 14th.
* We Have A Winner...As part of the #29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge promotion, Chris Heikkuri of Holly, Mich. received an all-new 2007 Chevy Avalanche thanks to Kevin Harvick's victory in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 on Sept. 9th. Heikkuri was on hand on Friday, Sept. 29th at Al Serra Chevrolet in Grand Blanc, Mich. to accept the keys to his new 2007 Chevy Avalanche.