Kevin Harvick Keeping up with Lowe's Vital for 600 Victory HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 25, 2004) - Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway is one of the most unique races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit. Not only is it the...
Keeping up with Lowe's Vital for 600 Victory
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 25, 2004) - Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway is one of the most unique races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit. Not only is it the longest race of the season at 600 miles, but it also starts during the day and ends under the lights. This adds a certain degree of complexity because the 43-year old speedway located in Concord, N.C., is extremely temperamental. Any slight change in the weather and the track can change in an instant, causing drivers and crew chiefs to go crazy.
"The biggest thing about this race is that it starts during the day and winds up running into the night," says GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick. "The car goes through drastic changes through the race, and that's the key to winning it. It's starting off with your car tight enough so that you can run until the sun goes behind the grandstands, and the track becomes completely shaded and starts to tighten back up and gain a lot of speed. There is a fine line in balancing your racecar and making it so that you can go through and keep up with each segment during the race."
If there's one group of people that can help to ensure the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year keeps up with the 1.5-mile oval, it's Team GM Goodwrench. Through the first 11 races of 2004, they've been able to transform top-20 cars into top-10 cars over the course of 400 and 500 miles. This time they get an extra 100 miles to make it perfect.
And speaking of changes, it seems Harvick is not content with the rigors of being a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series owner. This weekend he'll test the NASCAR Busch Series waters as Kevin Harvick, Inc., will enter the No. 29 Kid Rock Chevrolet Monte Carlo piloted by 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Charlotte...
Is it hard to give 100% for 600 miles?
"The way it is now you can push yourself 99% of the time. There are situations that you get yourself in during certain times of the race that you just want to get in a rhythm and click off laps. You really pace yourself and put yourself in a position not to tear up your car, or use everything that you have up, or abuse the motor. Whatever the situation, each week it's a different scenario or something that you have to take care of. For the most part, though, you are going as hard as you can every lap."
How tough is it to make it that extra 100 miles?
"With all the Busch and Cup racing, you get used to being in the car for a while so you get into this mental length of a race and what it feels like to be halfway. You get used to running 400 and 500 hundred-mile races. Now, all of a sudden, you have to run that 100 extra miles. You just have to prepare for a little bit longer race mentally."
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 nice is it to be around Charlotte for two weeks?
"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. Staying in the same place is pretty cool because it gives everyone a chance to catch up on things and not have to worry about losing time traveling. This place is important to us, and one of the tracks on my list to win. It will be good to go back there after our test a few weeks ago and hopefully have a chance to win."
Why did you decide to field a car for Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series event?
"Tony is actually the one who started the whole thing. He and Kid Rock (rock artist and friend of Stewart's) wanted to do a race. I knew it was a direction DeLana and I wanted our company to go in. Obviously, we couldn't get a better driver than Tony to start with for our first race. It was a win-win situation, and if things go well, we'd like to have him in the car again in the fall Busch race at Atlanta."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Charlotte...
How do you think the new Goodyear tires will hold up for the length of this race?
"When we went there and tested, we noticed it's not really a ton different than it's previously been. The tires take a step to fall off, but then stay pretty consistent. It's kind of like the tires have been so far. Really, tires haven't been a big revelation like I think NASCAR and Goodyear were hoping for up to this point. In the 600, you typically put tires on when the caution comes out. It's not going to change things, at Charlotte anyway, because it's so abrasive, so rough."
Points of Interest...
* Team GM Goodwrench will take lucky chassis No.88 back to the 1.5-mile oval for this weekend's 600-mile race. This chassis, the same one that was damaged in last Saturday night's NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, has spent the last few days moving from shop to shop at the RCR compound in order to be race ready for Thursday's qualifying.
* To make things even more interesting surrounding Harvick's debut as a NASCAR Busch Series owner this weekend, the Bakersfield, Calif., native will hop in a Kid Rock laden monster truck Wednesday afternoon outside their truck shop in Kernersville, N.C., to have a little fun.
* Harvick will pull double duty again this weekend, competing in the NASCAR Busch Series Carquest Auto Parts 300 on Saturday. This will be the eighth time that Harvick dons the Reese's logo in 2004
* Start time for Saturday Coca-Cola 600 is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 400-lap event on FOX starts at 5:00 p.m., with radio coverage on PRN beginning at 4:45 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.