Too Tough To Tame? That's Harvick's Style. March 11, 2002 (Huntersville, N.C.)-- Darlington Raceway. The track situated in the Southern town of Darlington, South Carolina is touted as "too tough to tame," and is arguably the most difficult...
Too Tough To Tame? That's Harvick's Style.
March 11, 2002 (Huntersville, N.C.)-- Darlington Raceway. The track situated in the Southern town of Darlington, South Carolina is touted as "too tough to tame," and is arguably the most difficult track on the NASCAR Winston Cup books. Tight racing conditions offering little room to make a clean pass, a track surface which cuts through rubber like glass through flesh, and an entire realm of lineage and history make the 1.366-mile egg shaped oval the standard measure of a driver's ability.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo, sees the, "Lady in Black," no differently. Unlike a lot of drivers, the tight racing conditions fuel his desire, after all rubbing is racing. The thought of winning at one of the oldest tracks on the circuit's ledgers makes going there all that much more special to Harvick. And the added factor of tire conservation? Well, with that thrown in the equation, it only makes it more fun.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet, Comments on Darlington Raceway:
Who needs a driving school when you can take a lap with Kevin Harvick? Let's take the Goodwrench Chevy out for a lap.
"Ok then. You take your laps with the pace car and you drive off past the start finish line into turn one. It's really narrow. Very narrow. You just let off (the gas) and then you need to get right back on it. You drive it up to the wall and ride it as close to the wall as you can. This would be where drivers get that famed 'Darlington Stripe.' While you're next to the wall, you ride three-quarters of the way through the corner. Then, you breathe out of the gas and get the car pointed to turn two. Coming off of turn two it's like shootin' the hole, riding up next to the wall down the back straight-away. Into turn three, you get back in it (the gas) and drive the car to the bottom. And then it slides all the way to the top. You get on the gas, come off of the corner of turn four. You're right up against the wall the whole way around. They must have to repaint that wall everyday we're there."
Darlington is 'too tough to tame,' or so the promotions department says so. What is it about Darlington that people love or hate, understand or just don't get? What will determine who the race winner is on Sunday?
"It's about comfort I think. You ride up against the wall the whole time for 400 miles, That can be unnerving. It takes a lot of endurance - like any other track, but it also is constant concentration on not only what the field is doing, but how close you are to that wall. It's hard to do. With Darlington, the only paved surface you can drive on is two and a half cars wide. Everyone will hit the wall at least once or twice. It's just a matter of how hard and when you do it.
"Plus, you've got to think about your tires, all the time. You've got to know when it's time to use them up, and when you should wait. The surface at Darlington just chews through tires. There are a couple of tracks where tire conservation play keys roles, but none like this. Stickers (new tires) don't last very long. But, if you hit a late race caution right, the guy with the newer tires will win. He'll be that much faster.
"A good handling racecar is the most important aspect. If you've got something that's loose or tight, you're not going to make it. You'll get into other people or the wall a bunch. Who ever drops off the least and runs the longest is going to be your race winner."
Darlington is shrouded in tradition. As the oldest track on the series' schedule, is it one of the places that's on your top-ten list to win?
"I want to win Darlington because it's so hard to drive. It's so hard to get your car set up to get it to go around there. Any place that has a long list of the sport's greats winning there - you want to be added to the list. Darlington is a marker for that."
Note: Kevin Harvick will drive his No. 6 NASCAR Truck Series Entry in the NCTS 200 at Darlington Raceway.