Daytona II: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick Unfinished Business HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 1, 2003) - There is some unfinished business waiting for Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series returns to Daytona (Fla.) International...

Kevin Harvick
Unfinished Business

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 1, 2003) - There is some unfinished business waiting for Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series returns to Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for the Pepsi 400 this Fourth of July weekend. As many remember, rain ended the season-opening Daytona 500 on lap 109 of 200 in February and left a question of what could've been for many drivers at the front of the pack.

Harvick, who was fourth at the time the race was red-flagged, knew he had a car capable of winning the biggest race of the year. "I really think we had the car to win the Daytona 500," says the Bakersfield, Calif., native, who had to come from the back of the pack because of an engine change after the last practice. "We were that close to clearing him (Michael Waltrip), but that's just the way it works there. We came from dead last all the way to the front. It was a great way to start our year."

The 2001 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year topped that superspeedway performance with a runner-up finish to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in April, leading eight laps after starting on the outside pole. He's been more successful on superspeedways this season than he has any other surface with one outside pole and two top-four finishes.

Now, Harvick returns to the most hallowed ground on the NASCAR circuit expecting to be a contender when the checkered flag flies. A crucial component to that will be qualifying up front, which he did to perfection in 2002 at this event when he took home his first Winston Cup Series Bud Pole Award.

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

Was your car good enough to win the Daytona 500?

"We definitely feel that we had a chance to win the 500; the last two years really. At the night race last year we sat on the pole and had a fluke with something going through the front of our car and wound up mediocre. We are always really strong at Daytona, and we always expect to go down there and have a chance to win. We just haven't put all the pieces together yet to come across with a win. We're going to win a superspeedway race pretty soon. We put a lot of effort into it, and that's what it takes to win those races. You're going to have to have your stuff together to beat the No. 8 and the No. 15 anyway."

What did you take from this year's Daytona 500 run?

"That we are going to be a contender no matter what. After our run-in with (Kurt) Busch on Thursday in the Twin 125s, the guys did a great job repairing the car. Then, we had to change a motor that last practice and the car was fast enough to come from the back of the pack from the beginning of the race. We got up there and Busch slid through our pits again. That put us back in the middle again and we worked our way back up there. It really shows how strong of a team we have on the No. 29 and at RCR."

What effect did the RCR vs. DEI controversy have on you?

"I think it actually made our teams closer to be honest. We got ourselves up in a wad trying to figure out what he (Dale Jr.) meant by his comments. Once everybody explained everything and figured out what was actually going on with what he said, it really made us talk more. That probably, aside from some other things, is what helped him with the race at Talladega was us pushing him. That's pretty cool for me knowing the circumstances to part of helping him win a race, and one day it will come back to help us win a race."

Talk about getting your first pole at Daytona.

"Being that I got the pole at Daytona, I feel it was more the team that deserves all the credit, not me. At superspeedways, I just get in the car and do the same thing each qualifying lap. I actually wish I had a little more to do with it, like at Atlanta or Charlotte, some place where the driver has a little more part in it. It was a pretty special pole for all of us. Not only was it my first Winston Cup pole, but it was our first pole together as a team. We had recently swapped crews with the No. 31, and I think it (pole) got the No. 29 guys pumped up."

What are your thoughts on restrictor-plate racing?

"I don't like restrictor-plate racing as much as I do unrestricted, but it's a necessary part of our sport that NASCAR has to make rules to where the cars don't run too fast. I don't have a better solution so until somebody comes up with a better solution, there's really no reason to complain. Your car may suck and it ticks you off that you can't go as fast as everybody else, but you know what, that's just the way it is. Until somebody comes up with a better idea, I'm not going to complain about it."

Points of Interest...

* Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 81 down to the 2.5-mile superspeedway for this weekend's Pepsi 400 Winston Cup event. This chassis is the same one Harvick finished fourth with at Daytona and second with at Talladega earlier this year.

* Start time for the Pepsi 400 is slated for 8:00 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on NBC starts at 7:00 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 7:00 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 Dale Earnhardt , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick