BUSCH: Harvick goes to Darlington

The ACDelco team would be fibbing if they said they did not have a favorite racecar. Good "Ol' Reliable ...

The ACDelco team would be fibbing if they said they did not have a favorite racecar. Good "Ol' Reliable #08" will return for its 11th showing at Darlington International Raceway. Kevin Harvick has piloted this car at almost half of the Busch Series races run so far this year. Ol' Reliable has tasted champagne and Busch Beer twice in victory lane, has five top-five finishes, seven top-10 finishes, one Bud Pole Award, and seven top-10 starts. "Don't fix what ain't broke," Harvick said matter-of factly. "This car has adapted well to every track we've taken it to. We weren't 100% satisfied with the car we had here in the spring, so it wasn't a tough decision for Todd (Berrier, crew chief) and the guys to pack up this car. I'm not arguing with their decision either."

There are several rookie records to be broken in the NASCAR Busch Series, and with eight races left on the schedule, 24-year-old Kevin Harvick is on target to meet and exceed them all. In 1997 Long Island, NY, native Steve Park was summoned by legendary NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt to drive the ACDelco Busch Series car. Park set seven rookie records including most wins, most poles, most top-five and top-10 finishes, most money won and the series' highest final finishing position. In a similar situation, renowned car owner Richard Childress recruited Kevin Harvick to drive the ACDelco Chevrolet. While Harvick is only one pole and one win away from tying Park's 1997 records, the most notable achievement for him would be to finish second overall in the Busch standings. Harvick currently sits third in points, the same position Park finished in three years ago. The difference, Harvick is only seven points out of second place. "Second through fifth is up for grabs," said Harvick. "The guy with the least amount of mistakes and the one favored by lady luck will finish second. Every one of the top six or seven teams is capable of winning each week. Our goal is to finish in front of these guys for eight more races. I have the team to do it."

No, it is not a rumor. A freshman leads the balloting for the 2000 Homecoming King of the Grand National Division. Kevin Harvick returned to Bristol, the first of six tracks revisited by the Busch Series, with uncanny confidence in himself, his team, the car and the ACDelco colors he dons week in and week out. He dominated the race by leading 241 of 250 laps and winning one of the most coveted trophies on the Busch Series circuit. If Harvick's performance at Bristol is a sign of things to come, the scepter and the jewels may not be far behind. "The learning curve has shifted now that we are going back to tracks for a second time," said Harvick. "Instead of studying the best lines to run at each track and trying to figure out the difference in the trucks and the Busch cars, we have time now to make the most of practice by working on our race set up and hitting my marks every lap."

Kevin Harvick climbed out of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet after his first visit to Darlington's track "too tough to tame", wiped his brow and said, "Man it's hard to pass out there." Harvick started 28th in the spring event. Initially, Harvick complained his racecar was tight, but ended the day with a loose racecar. Avoiding five cautions and the 12 cars involved, Harvick managed to give the ACDelco team a 15th-place finish. Harvick was asked what he learned that he would bring back with him in the fall, "Win the pole," stated Harvick. It's too tough to pass out there. I'll have to qualify better when we come back, that will be the most important thing."

ROOKIE POINTS: Harvick continues to lead the Rookie of the Year battle over Ron Hornaday by 16 points. (more)

HARVICK QUICK FACTS

Kevin Harvick won his second career Bud Pole Award by running a speed of 123.356 miles per hour at Bristol Motor Speedway's 1/2-mile track.

The ACDelco crew won Friday night's Food City 250 with the same car they took to victory lane in St. Louis, the team's first Busch Series win, and will take the same car to Darlington for the Dura Lube 200.

Harvick is the first driver in the history of Bristol Motor Speedway to lead over 200 laps. Harvick led a total of 241 of 250 laps.

Harvick has led 9 races for a total of 593 laps in his rookie season.

Harvick ties fellow rookie contender, Ron Hornaday with two wins each, but Harvick leads Rookie of the Year battle by 16 points over Hornaday.

Rookie of the Year candidates Harvick and Hornaday have taken the checkered flag at four of the last seven races. Harvick has won two of the last four.

Harvick continues to assault the championship points race. Harvick moves from fourth to third in the point standings. He trails Jason Keller by only seven points.

Harvick has a chance to make the NASCAR history books again. With two wins already under his belt, Harvick can tie Steve Park for most wins in a rookie season with one more victory. Steve Park holds the record for most Busch wins by a rookie. Park won three races in 1997, and like Harvick, he also drove the ACDelco-sponsored Chevrolet.

If Harvick averages 111 points (16th-place finish) in the remaining eight races, he will pass Steve Park's rookie record of 4,080 points, the most championship points scored by a rookie.

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Steve Park , Jason Keller , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr.