Imagine, if you will, taking the largest step forward you could fathom in your career. Now, add in the small detail that all of your peers' eyes are on you. Factor in the element that you were not planning on taking that full step for another ...
Imagine, if you will, taking the largest step forward you could fathom in your career. Now, add in the small detail that all of your peers' eyes are on you. Factor in the element that you were not planning on taking that full step for another year. Multiply that by being given only a few days notice of your impending promotion. What does that equal? Pandemonium? Trepidation? Panic?
For some, but not if you're Kevin Harvick.
Completing his first NASCAR Winston Cup race in Sunday's Dura Lube 400 (Rockingham, N.C.) may not have been an easy task for other rookies, but Harvick made it look like he had been Winston Cup racing since day one. Starting 36th in the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet and rising consistently up the ranks, Harvick ended up 14th, going one lap down during the event's final moments.
The Las Vegas 400 (Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nev.) marks Harvick's second NASCAR Winston Cup start. The speedway has been a favorite spot for Harvick having won there in the NASCAR Winston West Series in 1998.
Some people have noted that "a lack of seat time" may be detrimental to your Winston Cup effort this season. Care to respond?
"I've had a lot more seat time than most realize. I think people look at last year's Busch season as the time when I really came onto the NASCAR scene. With that, they probably think I haven't had a lot of seat time in a car with real horsepower. But that's not the case. I won the Winston West Championship in 1998. Those cars are the same as Winston Cup cars. I've made 70 Craftsman Series starts; I've made over 35 Winston West starts. Plus, I tested for the No. 3 quite a bit last season. On top of that, the engine change in the Busch series has given those cars a ton more horsepower. So the switch from Busch to Cup isn't that large."
What do you like so much about Las Vegas?
"Besides the fact that I've won there? The track used to have a lot of grip, which lets you take more chances during the race and qualifying. You can go into a turn and push it really hard with less of a chance of slipping up the wall. Since it's getting older, it's losing that. Tracks lose grip when they get older. But overall, it's a nice smooth ride. There's nothing in my opinion that sticks out as a difficult turn or banking, it's all about keeping your rhythm."
What happened in the Busch race in 2000?
"You had to bring that up? I expected to do well at Vegas because I've raced there a lot. We had a good car there last year. I missed pit road. It won't happen again."
Last weekend in Rockingham you raced against guys you've grown up watching on television like Rusty Wallace and Ricky Rudd. Was that surreal?
"To tell you the truth, it hasn't sunk in. I don't go around the track looking out my window net and get awe-stricken. It does feel natural though, which may be the strange thing about it. I'm sure pretty soon I'll be watching the race video and I'll see me... in my car... racing against drivers like Mark Martin and Terry Labonte... and then it'll hit me. It is a dream-come-true to be doing this (racing in Winston Cup).
"It's a sink or swim situation. I plan on swimming. Taking it all in stride is the key."
Notes: * Kevin Harvick marries DeLana Linville on 2-28-01 in Las Vegas, Nev.
* Harvick will also compete in Saturday's Busch race in the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet.
* Harvick won one of two Winston West events at Las Vegas in 1998. He took second in the other event.
* Harvick finished 13th in the 2000 Busch Series event.