Kevin Harvick Mounting a Comeback in Charlotte HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 13, 2004) - Last weekend's Banquet 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (NNCS) race ended in disappointment for Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team,...
Mounting a Comeback in Charlotte
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 13, 2004) - Last weekend's Banquet 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (NNCS) race ended in disappointment for Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team, so what better way to get back on your feet than racing in front of a hometown crowd. That's what they'll get to do this weekend as NASCAR's premier circuit returns to Lowe's Motor Speedway for the UAW-GM Quality 500 on Saturday night.
Fresh off the team's best run of the season at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway two weekends ago, Team GM Goodwrench looked to gain more ground on 11th place in the NNCS standings with another solid run in Kansas. Instead, they saw their Sunday end early with a little more than 100 laps to go when a gasket attached to the water pump broke under the hood. It was only their second DNF of the year, but it dropped them from 12th to 13th in the standings with over 129 points separating them from Jamie McMurray (11th).
"What happened in Kansas last weekend was obviously not something we wanted to see happen," says Harvick. "We had closed the gap on Jamie pretty good and were going to continue to do that until we passed him. We still hopefully will. It's definitely a setback, but it's just one race and it could happen to anyone. This GM Goodwrench team has been really good about putting what's happened behind them and moving on. We've got too much to lose to worry about the past so we're going to do our best to get back in it in a big way. I'm sure racing in front of a hometown crowd in Charlotte will help these guys as well."
Located only about an hour from the Richard Childress Racing stables, the 1.5-mile speedway in Concord, NC, is home to most of the teams in the series. Harvick has been impressive in his first seven outings there, posting one top-five and four top-15 finishes, including a runner-up his first time out. He'll need another strong finish if he wants to contend for that final spot in the rankings that will guarantee him a seat at the NEXTEL banquet in New York come December.
Points of Interest...
* DNF Rebound...Harvick is hoping to duplicate his success after his last DNF in Pocono, Pa., earlier this year. He finished eighth in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway the next Sunday. In his next outing after his first eight DNF's, he's averaged a 17.8 place finish, with two top-five and three top-10 runs.
* Team Changes...Catch-can man Kirk Almquist is moving up the RCR chain of command. Starting this weekend he'll be the car chief for the No. 31 Cingular Wireless team with driver Robby Gordon. Kevin Gabard will fall into his position on the weekend crew and No. 29 car chief Scott Naset will take over catch-can duties.
* Racing at Night...Harvick's record under the lights in four seasons in the Cup Series ranks has been up and down. In his first and third year's he averaged a 9.3 finishing position while in his second and fourth it slumped to 21.3. In 24 career night time starts, the Bakersfield, Calif., native's posted five top-five and nine top-10 finishes.
* The New Chase...Now that Harvick has been eliminated from the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, there's a new chase on his horizon. The battle for 11th in the NEXTEL Cup Series standings is on and Harvick is currently in the 13th position, 129 points outside of Jamie McMurray who sits in 11th and 58 ahead of Kasey Kahne who is 14th.
* Off the Truck...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 127 to Charlotte for this weekend's 500-mile event. This chassis, brand new for the 2004 season, has been run only once this season when it finished eighth at Indy.
* TV and Radio...Start time for Saturday night's GM-UAW 500 is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 334-lap event on NBC starts at 7:00 p.m., with radio coverage on PRN beginning at 6:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Charlotte...
How was your last run at Charlotte?
"We just missed it on the gear. I only turned 7400 (r.p.m.'s) or something like that off of the turns and we needed a lot more power than that to compete at a place like Charlotte. And the way Jimmie (Johnson) was driving, we got pinned down early and the gear wouldn't allow us to recover. That is what happens sometimes when we practice during the day and race at night. You never really know what you're going to get."
Talk about the patch in turns three and four?
"The 'Humpy Bump'. Sometimes I think Humpy (Wheeler, Track President) puts patches on his racetracks to add a new topic of conversation or to make the races more interesting. He's a good promoter and likes to promote a good show for the fans. It just adds another characteristic to the racetrack. As long as you roll through it at speed into the corner, you hardly notice it."
How much do you like racing under the lights?
"Well, it's neat for the fans and good for the drivers because it keeps us cool in the cars. I think you get a bigger speed sensation at night, with the brakes glowing and the sparks flying everywhere. Believe it or not, it's actually easier to see from a driver's standpoint when you are racing at night. They've done such a good job with the lights that there are no shadows around the racetrack. It's crystal clear viewing as opposed to racing during the day."
How nice is it to race close to home?
"Charlotte's always fun because it's close to home and everybody's families and friends are there so it's kind of like everybody's home track. It's important to us, and one of the tracks on my list to win. The surface is very rough and it's very sensitive to temperature, which will be a factor since we are racing under the lights. It will be good to go back there and hopefully we'll have a chance to win."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Charlotte...
What do you do different with this race being run at night?
"Not really that much. This track is very sensitive to temperature and a lot of notes we have from previous races might not help as much because they have been run during the day. The good thing is that we've run plenty of night races in the spring and the weather shouldn't be that different. You still need to remember to take care of the motor and the fenders."