Chicagoland: Kevin Harvick preview

Team GM Goodwrench a go for three in a row HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 8, 2003) - A visit to Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway could not have come at a better time for Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team. Fresh off a third...

Team GM Goodwrench a go for three in a row

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 8, 2003) - A visit to Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway could not have come at a better time for Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team. Fresh off a third superspeedway top-10 this season, Team GM Goodwrench is primed and ready for that first victory in 2003. What a better opportunity than Chicago, where they have dominated the first two events at the 1.5-mile speedway.

This season Harvick has done away with the pressures he made himself a part of in 2002. He is more focused, and it is evident in the numbers he produced thus far. Through the first 17 races, he picked up three top-five and six top-10 finishes, including a career-best second at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in April where he also sat on the outside pole. He is currently eighth in the Winston Cup driver points standings, a far cry better than where he was at this same time last year (30th).

It won't be easy, but Harvick and company will do their best to defend the one trophy they've been able to claim as theirs for two years running. In preparation, they took the last off-weekend and tested Chicago to ensure their 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo is set for a third victory.

If the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year can win, he will become the only other driver in recent history to record the first three wins at any track. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and AJ Foyt have set the standard with two consecutive wins at a new racing venue, but no driver has made it three in a row. It's time for that to change.

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

What is it about Chicago that's led to so much success for you?

"I wish I knew. Then I wouldn't tell anybody. No, it's just one of those places - Bristol's (Tenn.) another one - where something clicks with the way I drive. When we unloaded the first time with the Busch and Winston Cup car, it fit my driving style for whatever reason. You can run right on the bottom of the racetrack. The track is still very new. From the first and second year, it kind of had a couple of little bumps in turns three and four, but other than that it's really smooth."

What's different about the racetrack?

"Probably that you go through the corners pretty much wide open. You let off sooner than you do at most places, and you drive it all the way through the corners under power. That's not extremely different from other tracks, but there is a lot more throttle there than at most places. You get back in it (the gas) a lot quicker than you do at most places."

Why test?

"I think the biggest thing is that when you have an opportunity to come to a race track and win three races in a row, you want to make sure you make the right changes to the car. We've changed bodies and usually when you have a newer racetrack such as Chicagoland Speedway, things can change. So, we wanted to come back to make sure all the stuff we've had in the past is somewhat close, and it is."

Do you think you've got the racetrack figured out better than everyone else has?

"I think everybody has got the driving part figured out. Right now, it's more about the little things, like shock package. Shocks are probably the biggest part of it. It's really more about picking apart your racecar and coming up with that unique set-up."

Are races like last year's win at Chicago more fun?

"I'd rather win one beatin' and bangin' definitely. If there was something that happened during a race, like Chicago where we spun out and had to go to the back of the pack, then we came back to win the race. There's a good story in that. Something for the fans to pay attention to. If someone goes out and kicks the fields butt all day long and ends up winning by a straightaway, nobody really remembers what happened. I'll take them either way, but from a fan and racer's perspective, if you come back from a lap down or win one by two inches, it's more exciting."

No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Chicago...

What will it take to pull off the three-peat in Chicago?

"Well, we went there and tested two weeks ago and I think that will be a big help. The fact that we have a totally different racecar than Kevin had the last two years; that was something we felt we needed to see where we stood. When I went there with Jeff Green to test before the racetrack opened, we got some great information that Kevin fed off of for that first win. Hopefully, the test we just went to can produce the same results. As always, it will probably come down to circumstances. As long you and your team gives it all you got, that's all you can give and we can't expect anymore than that."

Points of Interest...

Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 110 up to the Prairie State for Sunday's Tropicana 400 Winston Cup Series event. This chassis is the same one Harvick finished 25th with at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and 16th with Martinsville (Va.) Speedway earlier this year.

Harvick will continue to try and defend his True Value IROC Series championship on Saturday with the third of four races in 2003. He sits seventh out of 12 drivers in the points standings through the first two events, but could move up with a run similar to last year's fourth place finish at the two-and-a-half year old speedway.

Start time for the Tropicana 400 is slated for 3:00 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on NBC starts at 2:30 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 2:30 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 , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Jeff Green