Fontana: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick Returning to his Roots HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 21, 2003) - It's not often that NASCAR Winston Cup drivers get a chance to go back and race like they used to growing up. With the busy 36-race schedule, all the appearances, and...

Kevin Harvick
Returning to his Roots

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 21, 2003) - It's not often that NASCAR Winston Cup drivers get a chance to go back and race like they used to growing up. With the busy 36-race schedule, all the appearances, and the non-stop traveling that goes along with the job, most of them are more concerned with taking a little time off than returning to their roots.

Not so for GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick. The first thing he's going to do once he gets home to Bakersfield, Calif., on Thursday is spend a day testing the Late Model car he will run Saturday night at Mesa Marin Raceway on behalf of its owners, Gary and Marion Collins. If he gets lucky, he'll get to spend some time with family and friends before heading to (Fontana) California Speedway in the evening for the weekend's NASCAR events.

Once in Fontana, it's practice and qualifying for the NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series as usual on Friday. Saturday, he's back in the No. 21 PayDay Chevrolet Monte Carlo for his fifth Busch Series race of the 2003 season. When that's over, he'll fly back to Bakersfield to run the Late Model race in front of the hometown crowd. This will be the second year in a row he participates in the 75-lap shootout, and he's going for two in a row after winning from the back of the pack in 2002.

Sunday will bring the culmination of a long weekend of racing as Harvick participates in his third NASCAR Winston Cup Series event at the two-mile oval. He's won all kinds of races at California, including Winston West and last year's IROC event. With his California conglomerate behind him, he'll look to celebrate his first Winston Cup victory of the 2003 season.

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

What's racing like at California?

"It usually comes down to fuel mileage because there's so much room to race. Last year, the groove really spread out up high in the corners so you could run three-quarters of the way up the racetrack, or at the bottom, or in the middle. It's really hard on the motor. The year before last, we had a car capable of winning and broke a valve spring. Last year, we didn't run all that great, but that was par for the course. We're expecting to go there and run well this time around. I always put a little extra pressure on myself being that it's close to home."

You touched on the motors. How do you make sure it lasts?

"The problem is that you sit at the same rpm for so long and you're on the throttle for so long down the straightaway that it puts a strain on the motor. Sometimes valve springs break, then the thing blows up. The guys at the shop feel pretty confident going in that our motors are going to be okay. Hopefully, we have the right balance on the motor and it'll be a good weekend."

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, it's relatively flat. This is probably one of the most important aero-racetracks that there are, and this will be the first really, really big test of it for our new bodies."

You're running the Busch race on Saturday, any special reason?

"Honestly, I'd like to win a race at California in either Busch or Winston Cup. That's the biggest reason I'm doing it. It's not really a huge rhythm racetrack that will get me ready for Sunday. I mean, every racetrack is some sort of rhythm racetrack, but it's not a Charlotte, or a Bristol, or Darlington, somewhere like that. I like to keep busy when I'm close to home so I don't have a lot of distractions. I like to stay in the racecar and keep moving."

How are your heels?

"They definitely hurt.  My left foot's not bad, but my right foot, I can't
even put tennis shoes on.  I tried to put some gel pads in my shoes after I
noticed the burning in the truck race.  Turns out it was a bad idea, a
really bad idea.  Once they got hot, they kept getting hotter and they never
got cool.  I've been wearing sandals or walking around bare foot most of the
time letting them recover.  It was nice to have some extra time to do that."

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

What's hard about racing at California?

"It's not so much that there is anything hard about the track itself, it's more about what the racetrack can do to a car. The last couple of times we've been out there, we've blown up motors and had our day end early. That puts a little strain on the engine guys who are trying to figure out how to keep that from happening again. The good thing is, our 2003 Monte Carlo body is getting better. We're taking the same car we raced at Texas, so we're cautiously optimistic."

Points of Interest...

* Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 112 west for this weekend's Winston Cup race in Fontana. This chassis, new for the 2003 season, saw it's first action at Texas Motor Speedway on March 30, 2003, where Harvick started eighth and finished 15th.

* After a three-week hiatus, Harvick will be back in the cockpit of the No. 21 PayDay Chevrolet for Saturday's 300. Already with a Busch win at Bristol this season, this will be his third Busch race at the two-mile oval.

* Despite his 16th place finish in Martinsville, Va., Harvick jumped two spots to sixth in the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver points standings with 1,097 points. This is a remarkable turn around from last year, where he was 29th after the first nine events.

* Start time for Sunday's Auto Club 500 is slated for 3:00 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on FOX starts at 2:30 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 2:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick