Darlington II: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick Burning up the Charts HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 26, 2003) - Just like the hit record "Magic Stick" by Fifty Cent and Lil' Kim is shooting up Rick Dee's Top-40 chart, Kevin Harvick and his No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team are...

Kevin Harvick
Burning up the Charts

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 26, 2003) - Just like the hit record "Magic Stick" by Fifty Cent and Lil' Kim is shooting up Rick Dee's Top-40 chart, Kevin Harvick and his No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team are burning up the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series points standings. Since June's Save Mart 350 in Sonoma, Calif., Harvick has moved from 11th in the points to third, the biggest jump of anyone in the top-10. The key says the Bakersfield, Calif., native, is communication.

"Everything is coming together for us," states Harvick, who, sitting third, has his highest position in the driver points standings since joining the circuit in 2001. "We know how quickly this kind of thing can turn around so I really don't like to talk about it. I feel like everyone at RCR and on this team has really stepped up this year. We are communicating better. With Todd (Berrier) at crew chief and Gil (Martin) managing the team, everybody is working together to make sure these cars are perfect."

It's been a great summer for Team GM Goodwrench. They've been red-hot over the past nine races, collecting six top-five and seven top-10 finishes, capped off with their first pole and win of the season at Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway in the Brickyard 400.

Darlington (S.C.) Raceway was not kind to the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year in the spring. After battling with a tight condition to start the race, Harvick got caught up in an early accident and posted his worst finish of the year. He looks to give it back to the lady in black come Sunday in the Mountain Dew Southern 500, and might need a magic stick of his own to do it.

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

What do you attribute to this hot summer run?
"I would say a great organizational turn around by RCR. We have had a great season up to this point, and we just need to finish it off. Richard has really stepped everything up, from the fabrication shop to the motor shop, with everybody involved at RCR. As a race team, we are better than we were last year from a communication standpoint. It's a lot of fun right now and we just need to keep it going throughout the rest of the year."

How's your confidence heading into Darlington?
"If we run good at Darlington, we'll be on top of our game. We struggled there at the beginning of the year, but right now, it's a lot of fun to go to the racetrack. Darlington will be a challenge like it's always been, but we've got a lot of momentum and that should really help us."

What's your impression of Darlington?
"Darlington's tough, but I like it. It's a very narrow, fast racetrack that has a lot of history and is very prestigious to win. It's one of those places where I'd like to win a Winston Cup race. Keeping the car off the walls is a key when you go to Darlington. You've got to get in a rhythm there and be consistent over the long runs. You have to take care of the fenders, tires and sides of the car. When there is a green flag pit stop, you have to be careful coming onto pit road. It's easy to slip and miss it with all the rocks and dirt. It eats up tires really bad, too."

Are you excited to go back to California for this race weekend next year?
"Definitely. I think the fact that we are going to have two races out there, and I'm from there, makes it more special for me. I like to go home and race in front of my family and friends. I usually put a little extra emphasis into that weekend. It never has worked out yet, but our attitude is that we can win there some day. If we keep doing the things we're doing, I think we can."

There's been a lot of talk about changing the points system. What are your thoughts?
"I think the point system is what it needs to be. It rewards the team that goes out week in and week out and beats everybody. Matt (Kenseth) has beaten the pants off of everybody week in and week out. He's been the most consistent racer. That's the bottom line. If we want to reward people for sitting on the pole, that doesn't accomplish anything because that's just one day. In the past, we've had tight point's races. This just happens to be a year when Matt's out there."

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

What will it take to be competitive at Darlington?
"The most important thing at Darlington is having a good handling car. If you can go in with a good set-up and keep the forward bite when the tires go away, we'll have a better chance at surviving. Qualifying is important as well as consistent pit stops and fresh tires."

Points of Interest...

* Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No.110 to "The Track too Tough to Tame" for Sunday's 500-mile event. The last time this chassis saw action was Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on Sunday, July 27, 2003, where Harvick finished 12th. His best run in this car was at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in March when he started 27th and finished seventh.

* With Michael Waltrip's early exit from Saturday night's Sharpie 500, there are now only two drivers in the top-10 in points without a DNF this season, Harvick and Matt Kenseth.

* We are 24 races deep into the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season and it's interesting to note that Harvick has completed 6,586 of the total 6,615 laps run so far this year. He's missed only 29, which averages out to a 99.6% completion rate.

* Start time for Sunday's Mountain Dew Southern 500 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the race on NBC starts at 12:30 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 12:30 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 Matt Kenseth , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Lil' Kim