HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 21, 2003) - There's a recent trend emerging from the camp of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team during the second half of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season. Any racing venue they struggled with at the...
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 21, 2003) - There's a recent trend emerging from the camp of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team during the second half of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season. Any racing venue they struggled with at the beginning of the year, they've completely turned things around to be extremely competitive.
Case in point, last weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Driver Kevin Harvick finished 16th in the spring, but came back to post a seventh place effort on Sunday, his best at the .526-mile oval. There was also Dover, Del., where the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year went from a disappointing 27th to fourth. Another was Darlington, S.C., where Harvick jumped from 36th to a fourth place effort from spring to fall. In fact, the No. 29 Chevy has gained an average of 15 spots in seven out of the 11 tracks we've been to twice this season.
"I'll be the first to admit we struggled with the new Chevrolet body style at the beginning of the year," says the Bakersfield, Calif., native. "I think it really just took us a little longer than we expected to figure out the balance on the cars. Our cars are so much better now than they were at the beginning of the year and it shows with how well we're now running at a lot of these tracks."
As the series heads to Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway this weekend for the MBNA 500, Harvick looks to again turn around a disappointing effort from the spring. His 19th place effort was his best in his last three attempts, but he knows he can do better than that. According to the averages, and recent runs, a top-five finish should be right around the corner.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Atlanta...
How do you see AMS?
"Atlanta is fast, very fast. It's always going to be a special place to me because it's where I won my first Winston Cup race. You can race all over the racetrack, from the white line to the wall, and still be competitive. I always seem to run good there, and last year it was a few freak little things that kept us out of top-five finishes. You have to have the complete package to contend for the win there, and horsepower is always important. It's a lot of fun to race on, but very fast."
What happened in the spring?
"We just couldn't get the car to cooperate. We threw a ton of stuff at it, and it never seemed to make much of a difference. We couldn't seem to find the balance. The car went from loose to tight and back depending on the adjustments we made. The guys were great in the pits, and they helped to try and make this car as workable as possible. We're definitely better now."
Does your first win in Atlanta bring some added confidence?
"It's always good to know you're going to a place where you've won a race. It brings back good memories, and you feel like you have a little bit more of an advantage than everyone else when you return a winner. Right now, I'm feeling great behind the wheel and can carry a lot more than I have been in the past. I've got a lot of confidence, and that's important to me."
Do you ever look back at some of the chances you've missed out on this season?
"I think for us we try not to look back at anything. Obviously, you could look back to Richmond, or Chicago where we ran out of gas running second and finished 17th, or Loudon where we ran out of gas. But everybody goes through the year and has some weeks where they run out of gas or have a crash. It's just part of our sport. So, we try not to look back. We try to just keep going with what we've got ahead of us."
What do you think of the drivers in the garage who speak out on the issues?
"To me, you should speak your mind and tell people what you think and how you feel about something. If you just clam up in a shell, your opinion is never going to be heard and your ideas are never going to be thought about. I've always been told to speak your opinion and if you don't, forever hold your peace. It kind of bothers me that some people just collect a paycheck and not say anything about it. That's not very competitive in my opinion."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Atlanta...
What are your thoughts on visiting AMS?
"Atlanta is exciting because Kevin got his first win there so he's got a lot of confidence. We had a strong car in the spring, but couldn't figure out the right balance. We've got that now. The team feels good, and as long as we continue to never give up, we'll have a good chance to win."
Points of Interest...
Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No.110 to Atlanta for this weekend's 500-mile event. This chassis, different from what they took in the spring, was last used at Lowe's Motor Speedway (finished 10th) and Dover International Speedway before that (2nd).
Harvick will be doing a lot of racing this weekend, including Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Aaron's 312. The most fun for him, though, will be Saturday night when he heads to Lanier (Ga.) National Speedway for some short-track fun with other Winston Cup drivers.
With four races to go in the season, Harvick has a chance to be the only top-10 driver in the Winston Cup Series points standings not to record a DNF in 2003.
Start time for Sunday's MBNA 500 is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on NBC starts at 12:00 p.m., with radio coverage on PRN beginning at 12:00 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.