HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 7, 2003) - You can hear the song playing softly in the background. You know the one, the song from Beverly Hills Cop by Glenn Fry, The Heat Is On. NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader Matt Kenseth hears it. In...
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 7, 2003) - You can hear the song playing softly in the background. You know the one, the song from Beverly Hills Cop by Glenn Fry, The Heat Is On. NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader Matt Kenseth hears it. In less than two weeks, GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick has almost cut in half (436 to 259) what was once thought of as an insurmountable lead. His strategy with six races to go, consistency and a little bit of luck.
"We're digging, and Matt's having some bad luck," says Harvick. "If we keep knocking the lead off 80 or 100 points at a time, we're going to be in good shape in a couple of weeks. Right now, we're just going out and doing everything we can every week. Our cars are better, our pit stops more consistent, and that is helping everything come together. Down the stretch here, we're definitely racing a little harder because we've got something to shoot for. We just need luck to stay on our side and we'll see how things play out."
The 2001 Winston Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year's run toward the championship started in June with a third place finish at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Since then, he's gobbled up eight top-five and 11 top-10 finishes, highlighted by a pole and win at the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway in August.
Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., has been a friend and foe to the Bakersfield, Calif., native in the past. A top-five and top-10 finisher in 2001, he went on a slide in 2002. Harvick's 13th place finish back in May was his best effort in the last three tries.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Charlotte...
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 for the first time. It will be good to go back there with all our stuff together and hopefully have a chance to win."
What happened in the May race?
"We were decent in Charlotte back in May. The car started off tight, then it got loose and stayed that way pretty much the rest of the evening. Unfortunately, the race ended because of rain before we ever got a chance to completely fix what might have been wrong. We ran well in The Winston and ran a lot of laps, so we should be good when we go back."
How bad is 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."
What are your thoughts on the Goodyear tire issue?
"Everybody gets a tire here and there that makes the car tight or loose. It's hard and nobody has figured out why those tires do that or what the problem is. It's one of those deals where it's just kind of, luck of the draw. These tires are all made by hand and by a human being, so there's going to be some tires that are found to have a problem and cause your car not to work right. I just like the fact that they (Goodyear) understand that there is a problem with some of them."
What's your best and worst memory from your first 100 Winston Cup races?
"My best memory, that's a tough one. It's probably our win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this season. That place has so much history behind it and I grew up a Rick Mears fan, watching him win at that track over and over. To do it myself was a dream come true. My worst memory is probably the entire 2002 season. We didn't start off on the right foot and it just went down hill from there."
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 take care of the motor and the fenders."
Points of Interest...
Team GM Goodwrench will run chassis No. 110 in Concord, N.C., this weekend, different from what they ran in the spring. This car was last in action at Dover (Del.) International Speedway three weeks ago and finished fourth.
It was bound to happen, but last Sunday's Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway was the first time in the past eight races that Harvick did not lead at least one lap.
With six races to go in the 2003 season, Harvick stands as the only driver in the top-10 NASCAR Winston Cup Series points standings without a DNF.
Start time for the UAW-GM Quality 500 is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on NBC starts at 7:00 p.m., with radio coverage on PRN beginning at 7:00 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.