NWS: Pete Harding 2002 preview

Harding relying on experience in quest for 2002 Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series Championship. SURREY, British Columbia (March 26, 2002) - Pete Harding, the 1999 Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, NASCAR Touring champion, has heard all the ...

Harding relying on experience in quest for 2002 Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series Championship.

SURREY, British Columbia (March 26, 2002) - Pete Harding, the 1999 Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, NASCAR Touring champion, has heard all the chatter from the 'youth movement' as he calls it, they want to win a championship on the Northwest Series in 2002.

He points out that at times, age and experience can go a long ways towards winning the title on the Northwest's elite NASCAR Touring division.

"They may have the youth, but we have the experience," Harding said of his chances for the title as the new season approaches the Big 'O' Tires 125 season opener in Monroe, Wash. on March 30.

After a vicious accident in June of 2000 at Portland International Raceway, Harding took the remainder of that year off from serious competition. As 2001 approached, he felt more and more comfortable with racing again, putting together some exceptional runs to close out the season.

"We finished the last half of the year real strong (two wins and several top-5 finishes)," Harding said. "We feel we've got a legitimate shot at giving the kids a good run (for a championship) this year."

"We've got good equipment and we've got both of our Port City cars ready to go and rock and roll towards that championship," he added.

The last five years have brought Harding considerable success on the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series. He is among the career leaders in victories (14) and money winners with over $250,000 collected since 1987. He's won a championship and contended for several others since 1995.

Harding's son Shane has been a big help in those fantastic runs he said.

"The enthusiasm he brings has kind of pumped up the old man so to speak," Harding said. This year with his father's blessing, Shane plans to run a late model car at Yakima Speedway with an eye towards the future according to Harding.

"My son is doing his own program but, he'll still be around to help a little bit," he said. "He's good enough now that he's worked on the cars and can drive one so that we're starting to talk a lot more strategy together."

While Shane will concentrate on winning the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series, presented by Dodge late model championship in Yakima, he will take part in some Northwest series events his father said.

"It's one step at a time," Harding said. "He'll run a few races this year and look at the rookie program for next year."

Harding has taken great care of himself during the off-season he said. All of his focus is on winning on the Northwest series and sharing that excitement with his son.

"I'm not ready to retire yet," Harding said. "I've worked out over the winter and I feel great. I want to race on the Northwest series with my son for a few years, I think that would be a neat way to close out my career."

At the present time, the elder Harding is focused on the Evergreen Speedway season opener he said.

"We've been good at the opener. We seem to have a handle on the track and a good set-up for that night."

"A lot of new guys come in and don't know the set-ups so us veterans seem to have good success there," Harding said.

The Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series season opener, the Big 'O' Tires 125, is set to take the green flag at 8:30 p.m. on March 30. For ticket information, call (360) 805-6100 or visit www.evergreenspeedway.com

-nascar-

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