KEVIN HARVICK Down but Not Out Heading to Texas 29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge Resumes HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 31, 2006) -- Sunday's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway will begin with another reshaped battle at the top of the NASCAR NEXTEL...
Down but Not Out Heading to Texas 29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge Resumes
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 31, 2006) -- Sunday's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway will begin with another reshaped battle at the top of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings. Seven of the 10 Chase competitors switched positions following last Sunday's event at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS), with GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick among those. Unfortunately, after a disappointing 31st place finish at AMS, Harvick lost the most spots among Chase participants, dropping four spots to sixth, 121 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.
Heading into the Lone Star State, there are only 146 points that separate the top seven drivers, which is the closest margin after eight events in the Chase's three-year history. Harvick knows he may be down, but he is definitely not out. Jimmie Johnson is a prime example as he has erased a 156-point deficit in the last four weeks to move from eighth to second in the standings. With three races remaining and Harvick only 121 points back, anything is possible.
"I think it's going to come down to luck, myself," said Harvick. "I think in racing and any other sport that you can think of, luck plays a major factor in what you do. I think all 10 teams are really good and have performed well week in and week out, and everybody is pushing as hard as they can right now. We haven't been in the Chase for two years, so if we lose it all and finish 10th, we still won four races this year."
Not only would a win on Sunday help Harvick rebound in the Chase standings, but it would complete the #29 Goodwrench 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.
Three events remain in the GM Goodwrench promotion, and with one win already in the record books, Harvick needs only one more to complete the Expertise Challenge. The remaining races are this Sunday's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, and the season finale Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"Texas is a good track to rebound at because we've run good there. I think we finished fifth last time we were there, and historically we've been pretty good there. But running 10th isn't going to get it at this point. We have to win and things have got to happen to everyone else to get us back in the hunt."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on the Chase...
After your 31st place run in Atlanta, what is it going to take to get back in the hunt for the Championship?
"I think it's going to come down to who has the least amount of problems because all the teams, if you look at the race results and the running order, in a lot of the races, through the races, I think that most of the top 10 teams are going to be in the top 10 pretty much most of the time. All 10 of those teams are there for a reason and seem to be running good every week. It just seems like a lot of crazy little things are happening."
How chaotic do you feel the Chase has been to this point?
"You know, it's really a Catch 22 situation. Everybody is pushing everything to the extreme, whether it's engines, bodies, or drivers. No matter what it is, you're pushing everything as hard as you can so you're walking that ultra thin line of being good with an advantage of more horsepower or more downforce or whatever the case may be. But when you push it too far, you wind up crashing the car or blowing an engine or whatever you're pushing it on, and everybody is pushing everything. It appears to be sloppy, but a lot of us have had good fortunes through the year, and now it seems like some of those bad fortunes have caught up to us. But on the performance side we're still okay and able to salvage good finishes out of it, except last weekend in Atlanta. I know from our standpoint, we feel like on the performance side of things, we've been okay, we just haven't had everything go our way."
You won the Busch title so dominantly this year. Do you think it will prompt NASCAR to add a Chase format to the series?
"Well, I think the Busch Series is kind of in the middle of a midlife crisis, I think you could say. The sponsors and the drivers are all a lot of Cup drivers, and a lot of sponsors want that to put in their cars so they get the most bang for their buck. Yeah, I mean, from another standpoint, I think it would be good for the Series to be able to have the guys that are racing week in and week out that aren't in the Cup Series be able to have a story behind them, to have something that everybody can talk about on TV and the sponsors are interested in. It's a little bit tough right now from a Busch team owner's standpoint to sell that to a sponsor and understand that completely. But from a driver's standpoint, it's great for me because I can race both schedules and race as much as I want to, and I've been fortunate to be successful at it. I think it's what the people want to see in the grandstands, and the race tracks love it and everybody likes it, but I don't know it's the best thing for the Series in the long run."
Moving a little forward, with three races remaining which one are you looking forward to the most?
"We've always run really well at Phoenix, and to have won the race there earlier in the year is something that we're obviously looking forward to. I've run a lot of races at Phoenix, in the Trucks and the Busch cars and South West Tour cars, and all the different divisions. It's close to home, and it's one of those places that I really enjoy going to and we've been fortunate to have success at. So that's good for us, I guess, in the end with it being the next to the last race."
Points of Interest...
Track Stat...In seven Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Harvick has one top-five and two top-10 finishes. He finished fifth in April, making it a career-best Texas finish. A year ago he started 33rd and finished 16th in this race. Harvick has led in four of his seven events at Texas.
Avg. Start/Avg. Finish...Harvick's average starting position at Texas is 23.1, with his best start of eighth coming in 2003. His average finishing position is 13.4, which is fifth among Chase drivers. His best finish of fifth came in April earlier this year.
Former Winner...Although Harvick is searching for his first Cup Series win at Texas, he has been no stranger to Victory Lane in the Lone Star State. In 2001, he drove Richard Childress Racing's (RCR) No. 2 ACDelco Busch entry to victory, and then did the same in 2005 behind the wheel of RCR's No. 21 Reese's Busch entry.
Chase for the NEXTEL Cup...Harvick finished 31st at AMS to drop four spots in the standings to sixth. It's a major late-season hurdle for Harvick, but not impossible to overcome in today's ultra-close Chase environment. He has ranked among the top 10 in the last 26 events, since Texas in April. He has 12 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in 2006.
#29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge...Three 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 needs only 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 after Texas will be at Phoenix International Raceway on November 12th.
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 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.