New Goals for New Hampshire HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 15, 2004) - In seasons past, there has only been one true goal that NASCAR Cup Series teams set their eyes on when seasons began at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway -...
New Goals for New Hampshire
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 15, 2004) - In seasons past, there has only been one true goal that NASCAR Cup Series teams set their eyes on when seasons began at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway - winning the championship. It went above winning races, grabbing pole positions, or leading laps, it was the ultimate reward for hard work and dedication to a very long and strenuous racing season.
Starting this year, however, NASCAR changed things up a bit. They installed a new points system that gave teams 26 races to make the Chase for the Nextel Cup. If you weren't in the top-10 at the end of that stretch, your chances of becoming a champion were over. Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team are one of those teams that have found themselves on the outside looking in. They did all they could to be in the top-10 after the final race last weekend in Richmond, Va., but came up short.
Instead of giving up, Team GM Goodwrench has constructed new goals to help them push their limits through the end of the 2004 season. They're focused on winning races and vying for that final spot at the NEXTEL Cup Series banquet in New York come December. "The way the new point's system works there's still a chance to go to the banquet if we can secure that 11th spot," explains Harvick. "I know that pays pretty good so I imagine you'll have a whole other group of drivers going after it. It's probably going to create some coverage around it as well."
Their first chance to gain some ground will be this Sunday's Sylvania 300 at (Loudon) New Hampshire International Speedway. Harvick's completed all but five laps in seven visits to the one-mile oval and finished in the top-15 five times. Now that the pressure of the chase is gone, he can focus on making his new goals a reality.
Points of Interest...
* Milwaukee Testing...In order to get a jump on the competition this weekend in Loudon, N.H., crew chief Todd Berrier took the GM Goodwrench crew back to The Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile three weeks ago to work on different front and rear-end suspension combinations that would help Harvick roll better in race trim at Loudon's flat, one-mile oval.
* The Last Loudon...The spring race in Loudon was not one Team GM Goodwrench likes to look back on. After starting 19th, Harvick ran in the top-10 early until consecutive pit stop problems dropped him back in the middle of the pack and heavy traffic prevented him from gaining ground before the checkered flag flew. He finished 13th.
* From the Owner's Seat...For the second week in a row Harvick will get the chance to see his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team race in action during the companion event on Saturday afternoon in Loudon. Driver Matt Crafton is currently fourth in the point's standings with more top-10 finishes (13) than any other driver on the circuit.
* The New Chase...Now that Harvick has been eliminated from the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, there's a new chase he's become a part of. The battle for 11th in the NEXTEL Cup Series standings is on and Harvick is currently in the 14th position, 42 points outside of Jamie McMurray who sits in 11th and 29 ahead of Dale Jarrett who is 15th.
* Off the Truck...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 111 to the Magic Mile for this weekend's 300-mile event. This chassis, the same one they took to Loudon in the spring, has been run five times this season and posted one top-five, two top-10 and five top-20 finishes.
* TV and Radio...Start time for Sunday's Sylvania 300 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 300-lap event on TNT starts at 12:30 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 12:30 p.m. as well. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Loudon...
What are your thoughts on not making the Chase?
"It's disappointing to not be in the hunt for the championship, but we did all we could and fell a little short. To be honest, we've had some things not go our way this year and some miscues here and there. You can't make those kind of mistakes, be inconsistent at times, and expect to be in it. We'll be all right. The sun will rise tomorrow and we'll still go on racing. We've got a chance to win races still and go for that final spot at the banquet. This team hasn't given up before and we're not going to start now."
How do you look at the rest of the season?
"That's really simple. Our priorities have just changed a little bit. We've always wanted to go out and win races and that will continue to be what we try to do at the track. It serves no purpose for us to give up and look to next season already because we've still got 10 races to go. We want to be in the Bud Shootout. We want to win races. Obviously, our overall goal has changed, but there's still a lot we can accomplish before the season ends."
How are your chances in Loudon on Sunday?
"I think they're pretty good, especially now that I don't have the point's situation hanging over my head and we can concentrate on winning races. My biggest concern will be trying not to wreck with all the side by side racing. You just try to hold your line and hope that the guy underneath you doesn't make a mistake."
What's unique about the racetrack?
"It's just one of those places where you have to get through the center of the corner and get up off the corner wide open. That makes it really hard to get through the center of the corner, turn good like you need to, and get up off the corner under full power without getting loose. Passing is harder there than at most places because it's so hard to make your car work getting up off the corner. That makes track position probably the most important thing."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Loudon...
What's the mindset for Loudon this weekend?
"It's really not that different than it's been in the past. We're still going to go out and try and win as many races as we can. We had a good one-day test at Milwaukee a few weeks ago to help us get ready for this race. The most important thing is getting the car to turn through the corners. It's hard to pass, and there's a lot of single-file racing."