KEVIN HARVICK One Championship Down, One to Go HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 17, 2006) -- GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick is halfway to becoming the first driver to win two titles in the same season after clinching his second career NASCAR Busch...
One Championship Down, One to Go
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 17, 2006) -- GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick is halfway to becoming the first driver to win two titles in the same season after clinching his second career NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) title Friday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS). Harvick turns his full attention to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (NNCS) title as the sixth race in the 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup returns to NASCAR's short-track roots at the vulnerable .526-mile Martinsville Speedway.
"Any time during the season, it's always nice if you can get something out of the way early," said Harvick. "In our situation, when we're running for both, it's nice to get that Busch championship locked up. We're excited about it, proud of what we've done this year, and hopefully we can do what we need to do on the Cup side in the next five weeks. It's been a pretty full plate to achieve everything we've set out to do in the Busch car, and it's pretty gratifying that we set a plan, stuck to it and it all worked out. Obviously, to try to get the NEXTEL Cup championship is our main focus. That's what we all really, really want."
Harvick heads to Martinsville Speedway for Sunday's running of the Subway 500 third in the NNCS standings, trailing leader and Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton by 89 points. The Bakersfield, Calif., native gained one position in the standings following his 18th-place finish at LMS last week. To catch Burton, Harvick must improve upon a Martinsville resume that includes just three top-10 finishes in 10 career starts there.
"I think Martinsville is one of the places where you have got to qualify well and need to run up in the front to have a good day and not get tore up," says Harvick. "It's a typical short track race. You can run good all day long and then have something go wrong at the end. If we can stay out of trouble, I think we have as good a chance as anyone to win."
Sunday's event marks the beginning of the second half of the Chase, with five events remaining before the 2006 champion is crowned. Eight of the 10 Chase competitors switched positions following last Saturday's event at LMS. Only 106 points separate the top-five Chase drivers, and a total of 216 points separates first place from 10th place. Five drivers, including Harvick, jumped one spot in the standings following Saturday's race. Jeff Gordon took the biggest hit, falling three spots from seventh to 10th in the standings after a 24th-place finish.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick about the Chase...
The year you are having seems to mirror that of your 2001 season. Has the success been similar?
"I have never had a season like this. The whole year on both sides has been pretty incredible. You just want to finish the year as strong as you start it. It has been a lot of fun to have everything going so good. Coming to the track every week knowing you have a shot is a great feeling. Even when things have been off, it seems like we have been able to make adjustments on our cars during the race and make them better. It has been great and everyone is really enjoying it."
Now that you have the Busch Series championship wrapped up, what are your Busch plans for 2007?
"We are going to probably run somewhere between 24 and 25 races next year. Probably some will be with KHI (Kevin Harvick, Inc.), but split it up between the two organizations. We haven't quite gotten to where we need to be at KHI."
Now that you have made the Chase, do you feel there needs to be any changes?
"It doesn't really matter to me. As long as everybody knows the rules at the beginning, I think the Chase has added a lot of excitement to the end of the year. We wouldn't have necessarily been talking about the points going into and out of this race if we didn't have the Chase. I think it has added a lot of excitement in the first 26 races leading up to the Chase, and then the last 10 races of the year."
How do you approach the Chase each week, and how exciting is it to be in the hunt every week?
"Well, you never really know what to expect. You just race week to week. Obviously the guys who were leading the points and up in the points hadn't had any trouble like the rest of us have. But I think everybody has pretty much had problems now, so we're kind of back to square one. It is very exciting to be in the hunt every week. That is all we wanted to do. It is a great turn around for our company to have two cars racing for the championship."
Points of Interest...
Track Stat...In 10 Cup Series starts at Martinsville Speedway, Harvick has three top-10 finishes. He finished seventh in April, tying his best Martinsville finish since 2003. A year ago he started 29th and finished 15th in this race. Harvick has led in four of his 10 events at Martinsville for a total of 147 laps.
Avg. Start/Avg. Finish...Harvick's average starting position at Martinsville is 18.1, with his best start of fifth coming in 2003, 2004, and 2005. His average finishing position is 19.1, which is ninth among Chase drivers. His best finish of seventh came in 2003 and earlier this year in April.
Chase for the NEXTEL Cup...Harvick finished 18th at LMS to climb one spot in the standings to third. He has ranked among the top 10 in the last 25 events, since Texas in April. Harvick was ranked 12th in the standings at this point in 2005. He has 12 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes in 2006.
#29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge...Three events remain in the Expertise Challenge, in which a total of 29 lucky fans will receive an all-new 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche if Harvick wins 2 of 12 selected NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races. With one win in the record books, Harvick only needs one more to complete the Expertise Challenge. GM Goodwrench also will establish a $200,000 scholarship fund to encourage young men and women to pursue careers as automotive technicians following the two victories. Fans can join the challenge by visiting a Chevrolet dealership or a Chevy display at select NASCAR events to get a ticket with an official promotion code. They can also visit goodwrench.com/expert to get a promotion code and complete the registration process. The next Expertise Challenge race will be at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5th.
We Have A Winner...As part of the #29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge promotion, Chris Heikkuri of Holly, Mich. received an all-new 2007 Chevy Avalanche thanks to Harvick's victory in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 on Sept. 9th. Heikkuri was on hand on Friday, Sept. 29th at Al Serra Chevrolet in Grand Blanc, Mich., to accept the keys to his new 2007 Chevy Avalanche.