Kevin Harvick Mastering the Monster Mile HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 27, 2003) - This week the NASCAR Winston Cup Series visits Dover (Del.) International Speedway, one of the more difficult racetracks to conquer on the NASCAR circuit. It's ...
Mastering the Monster Mile
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 27, 2003) - This week the NASCAR Winston Cup Series visits Dover (Del.) International Speedway, one of the more difficult racetracks to conquer on the NASCAR circuit. It's high-banking and concrete surface make it a larger version of Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick's favorite place to race.
Harvick's first trip to Dover in June of 2000 was a unique one where he showcased how quickly he could adjust to the Monster Mile's unique, roller coaster-like ride. A rookie in the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the NASCAR Busch Series, his qualifying effort put him on the pole after only one hour of practice to feel out the racetrack. It was his first of two poles that year.
"That was pretty amazing," says Harvick. "Before that weekend, I had only raced the track on a computer game. That was just one of those times where everything unloaded really good. That place is so much about getting in a good rhythm and getting comfortable. Hopefully, we can go back and repeat that."
Harvick went on to finish sixth that race, and over the next year and a half in the Busch car he grabbed two top-five starts and two top-15 finishes at the one-mile oval. After taking over the coveted No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevy in 2001, he drove to an eighth and sixth place finish, respectively, in his first two Winston Cup Series starts.
Last year, Harvick and Team GM Goodwrench struggled to find a rhythm in the spring and the fall, finishing well back in the pack. Heading up with a car fresh off a top-10 finish in Richmond, Va., they think they've got what it takes to master the Monster Mile.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Dover...
What will it take to master Dover International Speedway?
"The biggest thing is just getting into a rhythm and getting comfortable in the car. It's probably one of the top-two places that you feel the speed of the racetrack in the seat because it crams you down in it so much. You have to unload pretty close and have a good first few laps, then go from there."
What makes it so fast?
"Well, it's just a big Bristol, really. 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 corner 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 of the corner towards the wall."
How close do you 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."
Anything difficult about the track's surface?
"Not really. It's just like racing down the sidewalk. When you first get there, 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 a different type of feel. I don't really know how to explain it."
Are you happy with your point's position right now?
"I wish we could've finished the other night because I felt we could've finished in the top-10. For the most part, we are over 500 points ahead of where we were last year. Looking at it from that aspect, I think we're not completely satisfied with where we are, but we're happy with where we are. We're still in it. We're less than one hundred points outside the top-five, and that's where we need to be, in the top-five."
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."
Points of Interest...
* Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 111 up to Dover, the same silver and black racing machine that Harvick drove to a sixth place finish at Richmond International Raceway earlier this month. The only change to the car was to raise the rear deck lid a half-inch to keep it from bottoming out in the corners.
* Harvick will get a much deserved weekend off from his NASCAR Truck and Busch Series rides as he goes solo with his Winston Cup Series effort on Sunday. "It'll be nice to relax a little bit," says the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year.
* Start time for the MBNA 400 is slated for 1:00 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on FX 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.