Kevin Harvick The Monster Mile Mindset HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 21, 2004) - There are a few racetracks on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit where strict concentration is more crucial than others. The superspeedways in Daytona,...
The Monster Mile Mindset
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 21, 2004) - There are a few racetracks on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit where strict concentration is more crucial than others. The superspeedways in Daytona, Fla., and Talladega, Ala., are easy picks because of the scary speeds reached in packs of 20, 30, and sometimes 40. But there's another racetrack where speed is a major factor in much smaller confines and that's Dover (Del.) International Speedway, site of this weekend's MBNA America 400.
"The most important thing to remember is getting into a rhythm and getting comfortable in the car," says Bakersfield, Calif., native Kevin Harvick. "It's probably one of the top-two places that you feel the speed of the racetrack in the seat because it forces you down in it so much. You carry so much speed through the corners, and the exits off the corners are really narrow. That's usually how you can screw up there. You come off the turns and hit the right side of the car against the wall because as you come out of the corner, you're going uphill. The momentum throws you out towards the walls and you have to really concentrate to hold the right line every time so you don't smack into it."
Harvick's mindset at the Monster Mile this weekend is similar to how he's looking at the final nine races of the 2004 NEXTEL Cup Series season. Sitting 13th in the driver points standings only 63 points outside of the 11th and final spot that will go to the banquet in December, he realizes he's going to have to stayed focused and concentrate for a lot more than the 400 miles he'll race on Sunday.
"It's going to be a tough battle for that last spot," admits Harvick, "And it will probably come down to the last race or so. It's going to take us running in the top-five like we did last weekend in Loudon and a bunch of other guys making mistakes over these last nine races. I know it may seem like a lot of time to make up ground but it really isn't. We want that final spot and so does everybody else. If we can stay focused, we've got a good chance."
Points of Interest...
* A Solid September Run... Last September's MBNA America 400 was without a doubt the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year's most impressive effort to date at the Monster Mile. He attained his highest qualifying position of third (albeit by rain), highest finishing position of fourth and led laps (133) for the first time in six starts.
* Back to Busch Racing...To help with Harvick's concentration efforts around the high-banked concrete oval, the 2001 NASCAR Busch Series champion will pull double duty and race the No. 21 Reese's Chevrolet Monte Carlo in Saturday's Stacker 200 presented by YJ Stinger.
* Did You Know...Kevin Harvick was in his rookie year on the NASCAR Busch Series circuit when he went to Dover for the first time in June and picked up his first NASCAR Busch Series pole position.
* The New Chase...Now that Harvick has been eliminated from the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, there's a new chase he's become a part of. The battle for 11th in the NEXTEL Cup Series standings is on and Harvick is currently in the 13th position, 63 points outside of Jamie McMurray who sits in 11th and 22 ahead of Bobby Labonte who is 14th.
* Off the Truck...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 125 to the First State for this weekend's 400-mile event. This chassis, new for the 2004 season, helped Harvick to a 10th place finish in its first outing at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway in July. It's been run three times since then but has yet to post another top-15 finish.
* TV and Radio...Start time for Sunday's MBNA America 400 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 400-lap event on TNT starts at 12:30 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 12:30 p.m. as well. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Dover...
What did you think of the craziness of the spring race in June?
"It was unbelievable. I've seen a lot throughout my career, but I never saw so much stuff torn up before and so much mass confusion with the scoring. Our GM Goodwrench Chevy was good, especially towards the end. It just took a few extra laps to get going and that hurt me with all the late cautions. That was one of the longest days I ever spent in Dover."
How has this team been when it comes to racing at Dover?
"Very inconsistent. We either run really well there or we stink. Last year was a perfect example. We went there in the spring, ran as hard as we could, but didn't get anything going and finished four laps down. Then, we went back in September and had our best day there in a Cup car. We ran up front, led some laps, and finished in the top-five for the first time. The two years before that, we were either good or bad, there was no two ways about it. This year in the spring we struggled early in the weekend then ran decent and finished in the top-10. We need to do that again on Sunday."
How close do you actually come to smacking the wall?
"Every lap you come close because you are coming up out of a hole and the straightaway is up on a hill, so it just kind of throws you up into the wall. The track is so fast that if you miss your mark coming up off the corner you are going to hit the wall. There is not enough room for error. It's one of those places where you have to get up off the corner right every time, and if you miss your mark even a little bit, you are going to have a flat right side."
Do you have to compensate for the track's concrete surface?
"Not really. It's just like riding your bike down the sidewalk. In fact, when you first get on the track it feels like you are driving down the sidewalk. The rubber fills up the cracks eventually, but it's not much fun those first couple of laps. The track's got a different feel. You are up on top of the racetrack more than you feel like you are when you are on the pavement. It's really hard to explain."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Dover...
What's the difference between running on concrete vs. pavement?
"The way it changes with the weather is probably the biggest difference. Pavement tends to change more as the weather changes, where concrete will stay more consistent. They are both hard on tires, but you can still get good grip from concrete just like the pavement. They grounded the concrete at Dover two or so years ago to try and make it smoother. It's a lot smoother than it used to be. There's a little inconsistency on the racetrack, but most won't notice it."