Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo, is spending the entire week in familiar territory: the West Coast. The 1998 Winston West Champion from Bakersfield, Calif., a small town north of Los Angeles,...
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo, is spending the entire week in familiar territory: the West Coast. The 1998 Winston West Champion from Bakersfield, Calif., a small town north of Los Angeles, started the week testing in Sonoma, Calif., and will finish it racing at California Speedway (Fontana, Calif.)- the track he considers "home turf."
While skillfully handling the circumstances and pressures of his first NASCAR Winston Cup season, there remains one thing that generates nervousness in Kevin Harvick: racing for family and friends. Bring on the crazy schedule of races for this driver, he can handle that. He just wants to perform well for his family.
How does it feel to be heading back home? KH: "Going back to California is really going to be different this time around. So much has changed since the last time I was there. I'm married now, I've won Busch Series races, I'm driving in Winston Cup, and I've even won my first Winston Cup race. I never expected things to move so fast this year. It'll be kinda surreal.
"I'm looking forward to racing back in California. The West Coast is home, and it'll be nice to be back for a little bit. Fontana itself isn't exactly 'home,' but I guess it's as close as you can get. I definitely consider it home-turf."
Your family and friends from California don't get to see you race all that much. How will having them there affect you this weekend? KH: "Yeah, they don't get to see me too much. All of my family and friends come down from Bakersfield and I always build it up and put unnecessary pressure on myself. I've always run well there, so I'm hoping to finish well. In the Busch car, we've really worked hard on our flat track program. That work is only going to help me with the Cup car since they're so similar now.
"Overall, I don't think it will affect me pressure-wise as much as last year. Last year was so new, racing with Richard Childress, having the ACDelco ride, all of that stuff. I'm learning to get rid of those pressures because they're pointless and they don't get me very far."
How would you rate your fans in California and your experiences racing there? KH: "The people back home have been great through my whole career. They've really shown support for me and [Ron] Hornaday and the other guys from the area. They've been there through thick and thin.
"Bakersfield is a large, probably the biggest, center of racing out West. You've got a bunch of Featherlite Southwest Tour and Winston West Series guys headquartered right there. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else if I were still racing in California. Because of that, it was just an awesome place to grow up and a great place to learn from other people. There were so many different [racing] series running out there. It really gave me a good base to move from."
And the best part of going back to California...
KH: "[The best part of going to California] is going to be the wide variety of Mexican food. I love it. You've got Mexican fast food, Mexican sit-down places, and really nice Mexican places. I can't get enough of it when we go out there. It's home cooking for me."