NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Kevin "The Kid" Harvick, one of NASCAR's busiest drivers in 1998, joined Liberty Racing to pilot the ...
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Kevin "The Kid" Harvick, one of NASCAR's busiest drivers in 1998, joined Liberty Racing to pilot the #98 Porter-Cable Power Tools Ford F-150 in 1999. Only 23 years of age, Kevin has been racing since the age of five. After two top-10 qualifying performances and two race performances where he was running in the top-10 before bad luck hit, Harvick hopes his luck improves as he heads to Evergreen Speedway this weekend. He talks about what it is like to be one of the up-and-coming drivers in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS).
KEVIN HARVICK - 98 - Porter-Cable Power Tools Ford F-150 - BEING ONE THE YOUNGER DRIVERS IN THE NCTS, DO THE OLDER DRIVERS TREAT YOU ANY DIFFERENTLY? "I really don't think the older guys race me any different than they race anybody else. I try to race them like they race me. I definitely don't race the older guys any different than anybody else. We are all competitors out there and we race as hard as we can regardless of who it might be."
YOU WERE VERY BUSY LAST SEASON WINNING THE NASCAR WINSTON WEST CROWN WHILE STILL RUNNING IN 26 NCTS RACES. TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE LAST YEAR. "Competing in both series last year was not my decision. By all means it wasn't a bad thing for me to do. I got a lot of seat time and in that respect it was very good for me. But all the travel and missing practice days and flying in a day late sometimes hurt my opportunity to possibly run even better in both divisions. In that respect it might not have been the best thing to do but it was an opportunity that I had to race a ton more and get a ton more seat time. So I really couldn't turn it down. In the end it all worked out pretty well. It was not only tough on me but you spread everything so thin that it takes away from concentrating on one series."
WHERE DID THE NICKNAME "THE KID" COME FROM? "I got it from the announcers at my home track Mesa Marin in Bakersfield (CA). When I was sixteen, the announcers began calling me 'The Kid' over the PA system and the name has followed me ever since."
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN RACING? "I got my first go-kart for kindergarten graduation when I was five. I started out racing karts in Bakersfield (CA) and when I was old enough to actually race at eight years old, we started to move around the country and raced karts until I turned sixteen. After that I began racing late-model V-8 stock cars in Bakersfield for about two years and went through the west coast ranks. The late-model stock cars run just about as fast as the trucks do around Mesa Marin. Racing was something that I grew up around. From the time I was two years old, my dad worked on race cars and housed a lot of cars. My dad worked for (Rick) Carelli for a number of years and he gave me the opportunity to do it. My dad never forced me into it, he just allowed me the opportunity. Even though dad never drove competitively himself, he has always worked on race cars. Racing has always been something that I liked to do."
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS IN RACING? "My ultimate goal is to race in Winston Cup. The Busch Series is another option for me. But it seems like more and more attention is coming to the trucks. The truck series is definitely becoming a lot more competitive. I'm not sure if I have to go the Busch Series route but the option is there. It really doesn't matter what road you take to get there. I'm signed on for the next few years with Liberty Racing, so I'm going to concentrate on performing well in the trucks."
ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT COMING OVER TO THE LIBERTY RACING TEAM? "It's a really good step for me. Both Butch (Miller) and Kenny (Irwin) ran well with Liberty. And the team is proven. The whole team is starting over this year after using a few drivers last year. The team has won races and been through the points battles so they know what to do. It's just going to take a few races to get everything going exactly right."
HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH NEW CREW CHIEF ROLAND WLODYKA, WHO IS ONE OF THE MOST EXPERIENCED CREW CHIEFS IN THE BUSINESS? "Roland has been around for a long time. When he says we need something, 99% of the time he is right. In that respect, he is very valuable. We don't have to necessarily try things out, because he has pretty much done everything. He helps the team a ton because everyone has so much trust in what he has done over his career. It takes the doubt away and makes the team aspect that much easier. Everyone on the team is a little younger, so his experience is that much more valuable. He knows how to keep everyone calm and when to let them go a little bit. The whole team has jelled surprisingly well in a very short time. We only had a few tests and then the season started. Even though we've had really bad luck the first two races, we've been extremely fast."
TWO-TIME NCTS CHAMPION RON HORNADAY HAS BEEN A BIG SUPPORTER OF YOURS. HOW DID YOU GET TO KNOW HIM? "Ron used to build race cars out here on the west coast. When I turned 16, Ron was still doing the Tour cars and Winston West cars and I began racing against him at that time. So he was trying to sell cars and I was racing other cars. From then on we'd cross paths at the race track. He was actually the one who got the whole talking process going with Liberty Racing."
HOW DO YOU STAY IN SHAPE TO DRIVE? "Most of my work is done during the winter months. I wrestled in high school for four years so I've learned that once you get going into the season, you really have to watch what you eat more carefully. I do watch what I eat the night before the race and make sure that I get plenty of water too. I don't have the time to have a regimented workout during the season because of the hectic schedule. I'm always doing something racing related. I use the winter months for the hard workouts and during the season I kind of just watch what I'm eating. It's not like we're long distance runners. I still eat some pizza and hamburgers though."
WHEN DOES YOUR GAME FACE COME ON PRIOR TO A RACE? "I'm pretty much relaxed until I climb into the truck and then everything goes into its own little world. For me there is no set pattern. I just go with the flow over the weekend and when it's time to go racing, it's time for me to go to work."