HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 15, 2003) - Who knows why, but GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick really turns it on during the dog days of summer. In his first two seasons of Winston Cup racing, he compiled one pole, two wins, six top-5 and 13 top-10...
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 15, 2003) - Who knows why, but GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick really turns it on during the dog days of summer. In his first two seasons of Winston Cup racing, he compiled one pole, two wins, six top-5 and 13 top-10 finishes in 26 starts during the months of June, July, and August.
"That's been a pretty normal train for us," notes the Bakersfield, Calif., native. "The summer months are really strong for some reason. I don't know what that's attributed to. I don't know if we're just getting into the flow of things or if it's just the racetracks we're going to. It's a really good part of the schedule for us I guess."
Perfect examples of this are the races at (Loudon) New Hampshire International Speedway. In two NASCAR Winston Cup Series starts at the one-mile oval in July, the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year finished in the top-10 twice, with a career-best eighth place finish his first time around. When the Winston Cup Series returned in the fall, things didn't go so well. A 26th and 33rd place finish, respectively, in 2001 and 2002 presented a challenge to figure out what's missing from consecutive top-10 runs.
This year Harvick and Team GM Goodwrench are determined to see things change. A test at The Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile two weeks ago helped to garner some much needed information on Loudon, one of the toughest tracks on the NASCAR circuit.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Loudon...
What are your thoughts on New Hampshire?
"This is one of those places where I wish they would just leave it alone and not mess with it. Last year they changed it up and made it really difficult to adjust. The groove moved up and you had to drive in on the bottom, slide up to the top, then drive off on the bottom again. They've redone it again so we don't know what to expect when we go up there, but I'm a big fan of flat tracks. It brings diversity into our schedule. From the flat tracks to the road courses to the superspeedways, you always have to be able to adjust."
Is handling more important at flat tracks like this?
"I don't know. 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."
Why test Milwaukee?
"Right now we're just trying to test places where they don't count against us. Milwaukee is set-up like Loudon as far as track layout, so hopefully it carries over. There was a lot of stuff that we wanted to try, and Milwaukee made the most sense since we don't have any more tests and I was already up there running the truck race."
What are your thoughts on the soft-walls they will install there in the fall?
"I think it's a great idea, especially since they took so long to make sure it was right and researched. Anything we can do to keep everybody safe when they hit the wall is going to be better. I've got to commend NASCAR for everything that they've done just in the driver's cockpit. It's good to see them making us all pay attention to what we need to do to make us safe."
What's missing from your season thus far?
"Consistency. At the beginning of the year we really struggled with our (new) bodies and we've got all that turned around now. We need to lead laps and run in the top-10 and hopefully finish in the top-five and have a chance to win the race. Right now, everybody is so positive and the cars are running good. That does more for everybody and for myself than anything else. You're always going to have a weakness at certain racetracks or certain points in the races. But it's how you overcome those things that make you succeed."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Loudon...
What's the key to being competitive at Loudon?
"Probably getting the car to turn. Loudon is like any other flat track we go to. 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. Unfortunately, we don't know much about what they've done since they repaved it again in the corners. They didn't change the banking, so it'll be close to what it's always been. The Milwaukee test should help because it's a good place for flat track stuff."
Points of Interest...
Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 111 up to Loudon for Sunday's New England 300 Winston Cup Series event. This chassis, new for 2003, ran at Richmond International Raceway (finished sixth) and Dover International Speedway (27th) earlier this season.
This No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew is the same one that helped Robby Gordon to his first Winston Cup Series victory at New Hampshire's one-mile oval in November of 2001.
After a six-week hiatus, Harvick will be back in the No. 21 PayDay Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series New England 200 in Loudon.
Start time for the New England 300 is slated for 2:00 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on TNT starts at 1:30 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 1:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.