Kansas: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick Team GM Goodwrench Set to Tear into Kansas HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 5, 2004) - Just like a tornado ripping through the Kansas prairie lands on a windy summer day, Kevin Harvick and his No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team are ...

Kevin Harvick
Team GM Goodwrench Set to Tear into Kansas

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 5, 2004) - Just like a tornado ripping through the Kansas prairie lands on a windy summer day, Kevin Harvick and his No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team are tearing away at the lead Jamie McMurray has on the 11th position in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver points standings. A runner-up finish last Sunday in Talladega, Ala., has the team ripe and ready to go for more as the circuit hits (Kansas City) Kansas Speedway this weekend for the Banquet 400 presented by ConAgra Foods.

"We're gaining on him (Jamie McMurray) and last weekend's finish in Talladega definitely helped," says Harvick. "We've been struggling to get a top-five and get back up, so to have a chance to win that race is what we needed to do. That's really the one thing that will help us reach our big goal which is to do everything we can to be in that 11th spot when the season ends in Miami (Fla.). We had our best run last year at Kansas and finished sixth, so hopefully we can duplicate what we did last Sunday and have another chance at a win."

Last year's sixth place finish in the Banquet 400 was Harvick's best effort in three tries at the 1.5-mile oval. Before that he had terrible luck, leading the race in 2002 until he got caught in the pits under yellow, went down a lap and finished 11th. The year before, he was running up front when the silver and black racing machine got a flat tire and he had to pit early. That put the Bakersfield, Calif., native on the tail end of the lead lap and he wound up 16th.

It's been three races since the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup began in Loudon, N.H. In that short amount of time, the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year has moved from 14th to 12th in the points and trimmed a 42-point lead down to 36 markers. If Harvick can stay ahead of McMurray by five spots in the next few races, he could easily pass him in Martinsville, Va. Everyone on Team GM Goodwrench is clicking their heels.

Points of Interest...

* Runner-up Run...Last Sunday's second place finish in the EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was Harvick's highest finish of the season to date, beating his previous third place effort by one spot, which he achieved at the 2.66-mile tri-oval back in April.

* 1.5's this Year...The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series has run five races at the intermediate racetracks so far this season with Harvick posting one top-10 and two top-15 finishes. His average starting position is 17.2 and his average finishing position is 19.8.

* Did You Know...Harvick won two races on a racetrack almost identical to Kansas Speedway in 2001 and 2002? He did it at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway, a mile-and-a-half racetrack set-up almost identically in look and feel.

* The New Chase...Now that Harvick has been eliminated from the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, there's a new chase on his horizon. The battle for 11th in the NEXTEL Cup Series standings is on and Harvick is currently in the 12th position, 36 points outside of Jamie McMurray who sits in 11th and 42 ahead of Dale Jarrett who is 13th.

* Off the Truck...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 107 to Kansas City for this weekend's 400-mile event. This chassis, used three times in a row at the beginning of the season, was last run at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway where Harvick brought home an eighth place finish after starting 23rd.

* TV and Radio...Start time for Sunday's Banquet 400 is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 267-lap event on NBC starts at 1:30 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.

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

What do you think of the racetrack? "Kansas is really starting to come into its own. It's very similar to Chicago, just not quite as fast. It's kind of a mix between Chicago and Las Vegas. We seem to run well on any kind of mile-and-a-half racetrack. The fastest groove is still right on the bottom, with the possibility of two grooves coming in during the race. You fight a lot of front-end push up off the corners throughout the entire weekend. This place is definitely a track position and fuel mileage racetrack."

How was your last run at Kansas?

"We were pretty much gung-ho the whole day trying to go for all we could because of where we sat in the points and the ground we needed to make up. The GM Goodwrench Chevrolet came to life towards the end and we probably would've finished a lot better if we could have gotten a long green flag run instead of all those yellow flags. The groove is still right on the bottom and I don't foresee that changing anytime soon. I hope it widens out this year a little bit like it did last year, which really made it a lot more fun to race on than it was in the past."

What does last Sunday's runner-up finish do for this team and RCR?

"It gives us confidence going into the last seven races, that's for sure. But it also doesn't need to send false signals that everything is okay, because everything is not okay. We've struggled. Our downforce stuff is off. Our engines are off. And we've got to make sure we get it better. If we don't, we're going to keep getting beat. Instead of following, we've got to be trying to be the leaders and get some kind of an advantage. If we don't do that, we're still going to be battling for 10th on the downforce tracks. We have a good program for racing and we have a really good race team. It's just not coming together like it has in the past."

How do you feel about the cookie-cutter racetracks?

"I guess if you're going to lump mile-and-a-half race tracks together, you're talking about Las Vegas, Kansas, Chicago, and places like that. I can tell you from experience that they may look the same, but they don't really drive the same. We've had a lot of success on the mile-and-a-half tracks. They are extremely nice. A lot of them have their similarities - don't get me wrong - but they all have their own little characteristics."

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

Your thoughts on Kansas?

"Kansas is a lot like Chicago. Actually, they're so close that we are taking a similar set-up we ran at Chicago in July with us that helped Harvick finish 10th. Kevin finally got some good luck last year at Kansas when he finished sixth in that race after coming on strong towards the end. We're taking the same car we finished eighth with in Darlington (S.C.) earlier this season, so mentally that should give us an advantage."

-rcr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Kevin Harvick , Jamie McMurray