Kevin Harvick At Home in Bristol HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 24, 2004) - Whenever GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick hears talk of Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, visions of home pop into his head. A native of Bakersfield, Calif., the 2001...
At Home in Bristol
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 24, 2004) - Whenever GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick hears talk of Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, visions of home pop into his head. A native of Bakersfield, Calif., the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year grew up around and raced at Mesa-Marin Raceway, a venue almost identical to the one nicknamed "the world's fastest half-mile." They have their similarities - both are half-mile ovals with banking in the corners, and differences - Bristol is concrete surfaced while Mesa-Marin is asphalt.
The unique connection for the tracks that are just over 2,300 miles apart is that the 2000 NASCAR Busch Series champion has had a lot of success on both. A youthful Harvick started winning races at Mesa-Marin earlier in his racing career and capped it with a Late Model track championship in 1993. His incredible run at Bristol started in 2000 when as a NASCAR Busch Series rookie, he won from the pole in just his second race. Over the next six Busch races, he collected another pole, two more wins, and three top-five finishes.
On the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series side, Harvick has been just as impressive. After struggling in his first outing in the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet in the spring of 2001, he reeled off five consecutive top-10 finishes, including two runner-up efforts, the most recent of which occurred in the Sharpie 500 last August.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Bristol...
What's up with you and Bristol?
"Bristol is special to me because it brings back a lot of memories. I grew up on a half-mile, high-banked racetrack in Bakersfield. I know Bristol is a lot more banked, but it's kind of the same mindset for me driving around the racetrack. It's very fast, high-banked concrete. It's short-track beating and banging, a lot of fun and what I really like to do. I seem to have a lot of success every time I go there so I'm always looking forward to going back."
How is the concrete surface different from the typical pavement?
"When you are out on the racetrack, it's almost like you are riding your bicycle on the sidewalk with the bumps so constant. It usually takes a toll on the body when you have to sit through that for 500 laps. It wears you out. Physically, it's like running 500 qualifying laps, which is hard to do because you have to be up on it (the wheel) the whole time. That's probably the biggest factor, having to concentrate for so long and not loose focus."
You and Todd (Berrier, crew chief) have been back together for a year now. How's that going?
"It's going great. Todd worries about the race cars and let's Gil (Martin, Team Manager) worry about all the headaches, all the people, all the nitpicky stuff that's going on around the race team. He can go fight fires while Todd is working on the racecar at the track. He can worry about dealing with the politics and the officials and things like that. When you have one guy concentrating on your racecar, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that's all Todd does is concentrate on these racecars. This is a match that was made at the end of 2000, I believe, or right at the beginning of 2001. It worked really well in the Busch shop. They compliment each other well, and the whole organization - from our bodies to our engines - really stepped up."
What kind of attitude do you have to have to race at Bristol?
"You have to be an aggressive person. Nine out of 10 times, that's usually the guy who's going to get the win there. You have to remember, whether you are leading, last, or in the middle, you are vulnerable at all times to get caught up in a mess. You have to pick and choose when to pass because it's so hard to do without using your front end."
Why did you guys decide to test in Texas?
"We decided to go for a bunch of reasons. The most obvious is that we have a race there in two weeks and we want to get a sense of how the changes to the cars and tires over the off-season play a factor. We've been a little off the past few races in the body and tire department so we really wanted to go back and test on a bunch of stuff to see what we might be missing. We really want to be ready when we go back because we usually run well there."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Bristol...
What are you thinking about heading into Bristol?
"Good track position. If you start in the back, you've got a bigger chance of getting caught up in a wreck or something. It's interesting to see, though, that Harvick hasn't qualified all that great, but still he's been able to pull off some great runs. Last year in the spring we were fast and got caught a lap down in the pits when we couldn't catch a break with a caution. In the fall, Harvick all but about won the race with his runner-up finish."
Points of Interest...
* Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 111 to the Bullring for this weekend's 500-lap event. This will be the first time this chassis has run in 2004. Used extensively last season, it ran 11 times over the course of the 36-race schedule. Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway was last to see it, where Harvick started 13th, got involved in a wreck and finished 34th.
* Did you know that the only series that Harvick has raced with at both Mesa-Marin and Bristol is the NASCAR Truck Series? He scored top-10 finishes at both venues in the NTS over the course of his four year stint on that circuit.
* The No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team will take full advantage of the two-day test session offered by Texas Motor Speedway this week. They plan to work on fine-tuning the silver and black racing machine so it will be ready when the series returns to the 1.5-mile tri-oval for the Samsung/Radio Shack 500.
* Start time for Sunday's Food City 500 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EST. TV coverage of the 266.5-mile race on FOX starts at 1:00 p.m., with radio coverage on PRN beginning at 12:15 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.