California: Kevin Harvick preview

California kid comes home. HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 22, 2002) - Kevin Harvick, the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup rookie of the year, races on home turf this weekend at the California Speedway (Fontana, Calif.). Harvick hails from Bakersfield,...

California kid comes home.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 22, 2002) - Kevin Harvick, the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup rookie of the year, races on home turf this weekend at the California Speedway (Fontana, Calif.). Harvick hails from Bakersfield, Calif., a small town a few hours north of Los Angeles. It was there that the hard charger cut his racing teeth, spending weekend after weekend at Mesa Marin Speedway.

Harvick will not only race the NASCAR Winston Cup event this weekend, but also participate in the True Value IROC Series, and a night event at Mesa Marin Speedway (which Harvick touts as his "Bristol training-wheels"). Aside from racing, Harvick looks forward to the fans, his family, and especially the food.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Comments on California Speedway:

What is the most difficult aspect to California Speedway?

"There's not a lot to complain about when it comes to the California Speedway. It's so smooth and flat that there isn't any part of it that's too difficult or is 'that spot' that everyone dreads. I guess the toughest thing about California is that it's so flat and so smooth. That sounds strange, but with newer tracks like that, it's hard to feel your car and exactly what is going on with it because you don't have a bump or anything to compare what your car did over there to what it does over here. If you get a good handling racecar by the end of the weekend, then you've really done something.

"But the more and more we race out at California, the more that stuff is going away. Last year was really the first year it seemed to break out of the newness. Where you used to have one line, you really had two good ones. You could race side by side and not go straight to the back for the first time."

Fuel mileage seems to be the name of the game at these two-mile tracks. How do you prepare for that?

"Fuel mileage is something that is on your mind the whole time you prepare for California and while you're out there. Michigan (International Speedway) is the same way. The races tend to come right down to fuel mileage, and knowing that you always pay extra attention to it. You hope that you have an engine that is good with fuel and a good handling car that helps conserve it. With the tires Goodyear has made, you can run for a long time on them and run fast on them. So, it always comes down to fuel mileage."

This is your home turf. What is it like to go back to the places where you planted your racing roots?

"The people back home have been great through my whole career. They've really shown support for me, (Ron) Hornaday, Jimmie (Johnson), and other guys from the area. They've been there through thick and thin.

"Bakersfield is a large, probably the biggest, center of racing out West. You've got a bunch of Featherlite Southwest Tour and Winston West Series guys headquartered right there. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else if I were still racing in California. Because of that, it was just an awesome place to grow up and a great place to learn from other people. There were so many different (racing) series running out there. It really gave me a good base to move from."

And the best part of going back to California...

"(The best part of going to California) is going to be the wide variety of Mexican food. I love it. You've got Mexican fast food, Mexican sit-down places, and really nice Mexican places. I can't get enough of it when we go out there. It's home cooking for me.

"I'll see some of my family too. My sister and her husband will be there. I don't get to see her too much, so that'll be cool."

-rcr-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick