Bristol: Kevin Harvick preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 18, 2003) - In the 1996 Warner Brothers movie Happy Gilmore, the lead role played by Adam Sandler is told by his golf teacher, played by Carl Weathers, that if he is ever in a bind and frustrated with a situation, to go...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 18, 2003) - In the 1996 Warner Brothers movie Happy Gilmore, the lead role played by Adam Sandler is told by his golf teacher, played by Carl Weathers, that if he is ever in a bind and frustrated with a situation, to go to his "Happy Place". This state of mind will relax him, get him refocused and ready to take on whatever problems are in his way.

If GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick had to pick one racetrack on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit as his "Happy Place", it would definitely be Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Harvick enjoys the .533-mile oval because of its fast speeds and door-to-door racing. To him, it's a driver's racetrack where you have to rely more on instincts and less on aerodynamics.

Harvick's record at Bristol reflects just how much fun the Bakersfield, Calif., native has when he visits the small city in northern Tennessee. In six Busch races, he's collected two poles (8/25/00, 3/24/01) and two wins (8/25/00, 8/24/01). He's completed every lap in Winston Cup Series competition, with two top-five and three top-10 finishes in four events.

Upon his arrival to his "Happy Place", Kevin will find a new crew chief atop the No. 29 GM Goodwrench pit wagon. RCR announced on Tuesday that Todd Berrier will take over duties beginning this weekend, and Gil Martin will be moved to Team Manager. Berrier, you might remember, was Kevin's crew chief during his two-year tenure in the NASCAR Busch Series when he drove the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet. He helped Kevin capture eight wins, eight poles, 2000 Rookie-of-the-Year honors and the 2001 championship.

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

Why do you like Bristol so much?
"I grew up on a half-mile, high-banked racetrack. 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. I seem to have a lot of success every time I go, so I'm always excited to go back."

What kind of attitude do you have to have to race there?
"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. That can create some interesting situations, some of which I'm sure we'll see over the weekend."

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."

How's the 2003 Winston Cup season going?
"We've struggled a bit to start the season, and we're not where we want to be in the points right now. For some reason, we are still having a hard time finding the right balance on the racecar from front to back, and that's limiting how well we run. The communication is there, and all three of our teams are working together. What we've got to do is maintain what we've got until we figure it out."

What are your thoughts on the crew chief change?
"Having Gil and Todd working together like they did in the Busch Series is the biggest thing I'm excited about with this move," said Harvick. "Gil brings a lot of organization and people skills to the table so he will be helping the GM Goodwrench team streamline everything it has. Todd has come in to open our minds up to trying some different stuff to get this race team turned around."

RCR team owner Richard Childress on the crew chief change...

Why the crew chief change? "Todd and Kevin worked great together in the Busch Series so we made the change to jumpstart the season for the GM Goodwrench team. Gil has won races for us with Harvick and Robby Gordon so we're glad that he is staying and will be playing a key role with the team."

Points of Interest:

Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 110 to tackle "The Bullring". This chassis is brand new, and has only seen track action during a test at (Rockingham) North Carolina Speedway during the first week of February.

Kevin will run his fourth NASCAR Busch Series race of the season this Saturday at Bristol in the No. 21 PayDay Chevrolet. He has two wins and two poles at the .533-mile speedway.

After the accident in Darlington, S.C., Harvick dropped to 18th in the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver points standings with 533 points. He trails 15th place driver Jeff Gordon by 13 points, and is 42 points outside the top-10.

Start time for Sunday's Food City 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 , Robby Gordon