Atlanta: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick On the prowl in the Peach State HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 4, 2003) - GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick can smell a victory coming. Since the beginning of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup season, he has watched his No. 29 GM Goodwrench...

Kevin Harvick
On the prowl in the Peach State

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 4, 2003) - GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick can smell a victory coming. Since the beginning of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup season, he has watched his No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew work hard to fine-tune the new Chevrolet Monte Carlo body to create a balance and set-up crucial in running for the checkers. So far they have been a little bit off. Enter Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway into the picture.

Racing at Atlanta has always been a joy for the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year. He loves the speed and layout of the racetrack. The fact that you can run three-wide at times, utilizing the whole racing surface. It's a perfect fit for him, and he found that out the first time he visited the 1.54-mile speedway in a Winston Cup car.

It's still a little fuzzy to him because of all the hoopla surrounding it. It was 2001. His third Winston Cup start. All that was expected was for him to finish the race. Well, he accomplished that and more. The 27-year old Bakersfield, Calif., native grabbed the checkered flag by less than a second over Jeff Gordon, and kicked off what would become a whirlwind season.

This weekend Harvick and the No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew look to use Atlanta as a springboard one more time. They are on the prowl for their first win of the season at the 43-year old D-shaped oval located just outside the biggest city in the South. Look for it come Sunday.

No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Atlanta...

What do you like about Atlanta?
"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."

Does winning there 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."

How's the new Chevrolet Monte Carlo body working out?
"Things are going good, but we are still learning the balance and fender characteristics. Some teams figured it out immediately, but we haven't seemed to hit it yet. We were a little off in Rockingham, and it got better last weekend in Las Vegas. Working on the downforce stuff is what we're trying to focus on now. That only comes with time on the racetrack and me out there driving and giving feedback. Our time is coming, and we're getting closer."

How vital has the team been so far this year?
"The guys on the GM Goodwrench crew have really helped to keep me in the last two races. Their pit stops have been phenomenal. They can make my day go from awful like it started out in Las Vegas to great when they constantly work on the car to make it better. It's good to know I can count on them when I need them. We all know we can't win all the time, but if they can keep me in the race week in and week out, that's all I need. I keep preaching to them points, points, points. That is what's most important right now."

No Busch car to race this weekend. Is that good or bad?
"I'd be lying if I told you running the Busch car at some of these racetracks didn't help. That's why I decided to do it in the first place. It's because I need some extra seat time to get a little more comfortable. It also helps to keep me fresh, ready to go, and I find I don't sit around as much looking for things to do. It does have its downside, though, with what it can take out on you being in the car that much."

No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Gil Martin on Atlanta...

What have you learned in the first three races that will help in Atlanta?
"The biggest factor is that we're still fine-tuning the car to find the right balance front-to-rear. We knew it would take some races to fully understand what we're working with. Hopefully this weekend we'll be able to hit it on the nose. Atlanta is exciting because Kevin got his first win there and has run well. He's got a lot of confidence, which will help us going in. We had a strong car last year for this race, but had some motor problems and dropped out. The team is feeling good right now, and as long as we continue to never give up during a race, even if we are down at first, we'll have a good chance to win."

Points of Interest...

* Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No.93 to Atlanta for this weekend's 500-mile event. This chassis was used only once last season at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the fall, where Harvick started 20th and finished 22nd. This chassis was originally designated for the No. 31 team in 2002, but switched in the midst of last season's team changes.

* Harvick will take part in two announcements this weekend in Atlanta, Ga., one on behalf of Snap-On Tools on Friday, March 7, at 2 PM, and the other with primary sponsor GM Goodwrench on Saturday, March 8th at 1 PM. Both will take place in the Infield Media Center.

* After three races, Harvick sits seventh in the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver points standings with 372 points. He trails sixth-place driver Kurt Busch by 27 points, and is only 37 points shy from cracking the top-five.

* Start time for Sunday's MBNA 500 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on FOX starts at 12:30 p.m., with radio coverage on PRN beginning at 12:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch