Fontana II: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick Rejuvenated Harvick Ready to Conquer California HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 31, 2004) - GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick is rejuvenated and ready to get back into the action this weekend as the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series ...

Kevin Harvick
Rejuvenated Harvick Ready to Conquer California

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 31, 2004) - GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick is rejuvenated and ready to get back into the action this weekend as the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads back to (Fontana) California Speedway for it's second of two races at the two-mile oval. Labor Day weekend racing, synonymous with Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in the past, is just one of many changes that the circuit has made for the 2004 season and beyond. It's something Harvick expected and isn't really all that upset about.

"I'm looking forward to getting back to California and racing in front of the hometown fans again this year," says the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. "It's nice to see the circuit expanding to the West, especially since I grew up out there. I know tracks like Darlington have traditions in our sport, but we have to take our sport to where the demands are and where the grandstands will be full. That's what keeps our sponsors happy, television happy and everybody happy."

Harvick, who took an early exit from last Saturday's Sharpie 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway when his left arm went numb from an awkward position in his seat, is in a lot better shape and has already been back in the silver and black racing machine to participate in a two-day test at The Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile before heading to sunny California.

"The arm's a lot better," Harvick said before the test. "It was pretty much back to normal once I got out of the racecar and had a chance to relax a little bit and get some fluids back in me. I was sitting in the same position for so long and my seat kept pinching a nerve under my left arm and it eventually fell asleep during that long green flag run. The way the race went I never got a chance to wake it up and there was no way I could continue once it went numb. I'm glad Kyle (Petty) was there to take over and I'd like to thank him again for helping us out."

Petty's 24th place finish helped Harvick keep his eighth place position in the NEXTEL driver points standings, but just barely. The 2001 NASCAR Busch Series champion hopes to bounce back in Fontana where his ninth place finish in the Auto Club 500 earlier this year was his best NEXTEL Cup Series performance to date.

Points of Interest...

* Family Fuedin'...Harvick, his wife DeLana, and three members from the No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team will participate in the Family Fued game show this Wednesday, September 1, 2004, in Hollywood, Calif. It's just one part of the show's week-long celebration of NASCAR being back on the West coast.

* Winning Ways...The Bakersfield, Calif., native is familiar with Victory Lane in Fontana. He won the International Race of Champions (IROC) event in 2002, and scored a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win in 1998.

* The Chase...With two races to go until the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, Harvick sits eighth in the standings with 2,923 points. He's four markers ahead of Bobby Labonte who sits ninth, and 96 behind Elliott Sadler who sits seventh.

* Off the Truck...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 125 to the Sunshine State for this weekend's 500-mile event. This chassis, brand new for the 2004 season, has been run two other times this year at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway and the fall race at (Brooklyn) Michigan International Speedway.

* TV and Radio...Start time for Sunday night's Pop Secret 500 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 250-lap event on TNT starts at 7:00 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 6:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

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

How was your spring race at California Speedway earlier this year?

"To finish ninth after the day we had was pretty amazing. We got a bad set of tires in the middle of the race and the GM Goodwrench Chevy really got loose in the corners. We were on the verge of getting lapped when we caught a caution. That gave us a chance to fix what we needed and get the car back good enough to work with. California hasn't been my best racetrack so we really tried hard to make good and I think we did that in May. It was nice to finally finish that good so close to home."

What's the racing like?

"It usually comes down to fuel mileage because there's so much room to race. The groove has really spread out up high in the corners in recent years so you can run three-quarters of the way up the racetrack, or at the bottom, or in the middle. Last year we were strong, but got caught in the pits twice when the caution flew and never got a chance to make it back up. In 2002, we didn't run all that great, but that was par for the course. The year before last, we had a car capable of winning and broke a valve spring. We were expecting to go there and run well in May and did just that."

How much fun is it racing close to home?

"It's always fun when you come home and get to see a lot of your friends that you grew up with. A lot of family usually comes to the race so I get to spend some time with my sister and her husband. It's a lot of fun to go to California. We've put a lot of effort into it this year and hopefully we can run really good and do what we want to do on the racetrack. The hardest part is really trying to have that good weekend because you want to run well in front of all the fans. I always put a little extra pressure on myself being that it's close to home."

How much will the aero-package come into play?

"It's all aero at California. You do have to have a good motor, but you also have to be able to get through the corners. There's not 28-degrees of banking, or 24-degrees of banking, so it's relatively flat. This is probably one of the most important aero-racetracks that there are on the circuit."

No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on California...

What's makes racing difficult at California?

"The tough thing about a racetrack like California is what it can do to a car. We've been out there and blown up motors and had our day end early or got caught in the pits with some kind of problem and never got a chance to get it back. The race in May we even had to overcome a bad set of tires. More than anything, it puts a strain on the engine guys who are trying to figure out how to keep the motors running at such high r.p.m.'s for so long without blowing up."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Kevin Harvick