Darlington: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick Beating "The Lady in Black" HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 11, 2003) - "The Lady in Black", a.k.a. Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, is notorious for beating on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit when it invades the southern town just north...

Kevin Harvick
Beating "The Lady in Black"

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 11, 2003) - "The Lady in Black", a.k.a. Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, is notorious for beating on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit when it invades the southern town just north of Columbia. Her odd egg shape and abrasive racing surface leave a lot of drivers wondering what happened at the end of a weekend's event. Forty-four cautions over the last four races exemplify that.

GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick will have no more of it. He's taking his No. 29 Richard Childress Racing team with him this weekend to put a hurting on the 54-year old woman. Now, normally he wouldn't touch a lady, but in this case he'll make an exception. Sitting seventh in the 2003 driver points, a strong run would solidify his position as the series rolls over to the current standings after Sunday's race.

Harvick has been able to hold his own in four visits to the 1.366-mile oval in a Winston Cup car. The 27-year old has never started outside the top-17, and finished 14th in his first race in 2001. His third place finish in the spring race last year was his best, and he looks to better that come Sunday. A good-handling car and quick pit stops will be the keys to it.

It might take some work, but Harvick and Team GM Goodwrench think they've got a good chance to give back what "The Lady in Black" has been dishing out for years. It's time for a little payback.

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

What's your first 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 that I'd like to win a Winston Cup race. Keeping the car off the walls is a key when you go to Darlington. If you can keep the right side of the car in tact for the whole day, you'll have a good day. It eats up tires really bad, too."

How can you beat it?

"The best way is get in a rhythm and be consistent over the long runs. You have to take care of the fenders, tires and sides of the car. When there is 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. I did that once running third and came back out two laps down. I guess it's a combination of a lot of things."

Take us for a lap around the racetrack.

"Going into turns one and two you barely let off the throttle to avoid hitting the wall. You are wide open through the middle, then take a breath out of the gas and just kind of shoot the gap. You try as hard as possible not to hit the outside wall. It's so narrow and so fast that you are only inches away when you get in the gas again. After you get through the backstretch, you find turns three and four are a bit different. You have to let up a lot more getting in and use a little brake. With new tires you can run just about anywhere, but after they wear off you are right up by the wall. The outside of turn four kind of kicks back at you so you have to pay attention not to hit it."

How hard is it to find the right balance on the 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo?

"That's a touchy subject. It seems to be hard for us right now, and easy for everybody else. We are still working on the fenders and set-up of the new body to find the perfect balance. For some reason, we haven't been able to hit on it yet. I've got a lot of confidence in the guys at the shop, and it's just a matter of time before we figure things out."

Are you excited about running your first truck race of the season?

"Definitely. I watched Ed (Berrier) run in Daytona and wished I were in it. Last year, I ran pretty good at Darlington in the trucks and was in contention to win. Any win at Darlington would be a good one. Anytime you can run good in your own stuff, it's like a measure of self achievement."

No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Gil Martin on Darlington...

What does it take to win 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. Harvick finished third in this race last year so we'll be able to take a lot of numbers from that. He's also running the truck race which will get him some extra seat time."

Points of Interest...

* Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No.107 to "The Track too Tough to Tame" for Sunday's 400-mile event. This chassis has seen action only one other time, at North Carolina Speedway three weeks ago where Harvick started 26th and finished 25th.

* Harvick will run his first NASCAR Truck Series race of the 2003 season at Darlington on Friday, March 14th. He finished fourth in the truck race there in 2002.

* After four races, Harvick remains seventh in the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver points standings with 478 points. He trails sixth-place driver Johnny Benson by nine points, and is 140 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.

* Start time for Sunday's Darlington 400 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on FOX 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 Kevin Harvick , Johnny Benson
Teams Richard Childress Racing