Phoenix: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick Feeling Good about Phoenix HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (November 3, 2004) - The month of October was a roller coaster ride for GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick, and boy is he glad it's over. The 28-year old started it on a high...

Kevin Harvick
Feeling Good about Phoenix

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (November 3, 2004) - The month of October was a roller coaster ride for GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick, and boy is he glad it's over. The 28-year old started it on a high note with his best finish of 2004 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, but it almost all went downhill from there with three motor problems in four races all leading to DNFs and a lone highlight when he finished eighth at the newly repaved Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Needless to say, he's ready to move on to November and the last three races of the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.

First up is the Checker Auto Parts 500k at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway. One of the more unique racetracks on the circuit with its triangular shape, it's a favorite of the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year with good reason. He's won the last two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events at the one-mile oval and finished second in two of the last four NASCAR Busch Series races.

"I've had a lot of success at Phoenix, just not much on the Cup side" states Harvick. "I'm actually really looking forward to going back there because I know from our test a few weeks ago that we're going to have a car capable of winning the race. It's the same one we finished eighth with in Martinsville a few weeks ago. It's brand new and we were able to run well right out of the box, something we haven't been able to do as much this season. I'm feeling pretty good about it."

Something else Harvick hopes he'll finally get to do this season is visit Victory Lane. It's been 48 races since Harvick won the 2003 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway, the longest drought in the young driver's four-year NEXTEL Cup Series career. But there are still three races left and he knows as well as anyone the rides not over yet.

Points of Interest...

* Testing 1, 2, 3...The No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team spent two days testing at Phoenix International Raceway prior to the Subway 500 in Martinsville. They primarily worked on race set-up at the reconfigured racetrack to help Harvick get around it better, especially since his track time was cut short last year due to an on-track incident in the middle stages of the Checker Auto Parts 500 that knocked him out of contention.

* West Coast Winner...The Bakersfield, Calif., native had a lot of success racing on the West Coast in his early years, collecting the 1995 Featherlite Southwest Tour Series Rookie-of-the-Year honors and 1998 Winston West Series championship along the way.

* Did You Know...Harvick set the NASCAR Busch Series pole position at Phoenix International Raceway during qualifying for last year's Bashas' 200. It was his 15th pole of his Busch Series career and eighth of the 2003 season.

* The New Chase...Now that Harvick has been eliminated from the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, there's another chase on his horizon. The battle for 11th in the NEXTEL Cup Series standings is on with Harvick currently in the 14th position, 328 points outside of Jamie McMurray who sits in 11th and three ahead of Bobby Labonte who is 15th.

* Off the Truck...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 120 to the Valley of the Sun for this weekend's 312-lap event. This chassis is brand new for the 2004 season and saw on-track action for the first time at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway two Sundays ago where Harvick started 19th and finished eighth.

* TV and Radio...Start time for Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500k is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 312-mile event on NBC starts at 3:00 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 2:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

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

What's the track like? "I have a lot of laps around Phoenix. It's a unique racetrack with turns one and two really tight, three and four really sweeping. You have to get your car to work in one end as well as the other so you can go through both ends reasonably well. It's kind of a compromise in the handling package, but a lot of fun for me to race on because I've raced there so much and had so much success."

How comfortable are you after your test in Phoenix two weeks ago?

"I feel like we had a pretty good test. We went there with a similar set-up that we ran last year at Phoenix to see how much the racetrack had changed. It doesn't seem like we had to do much to get the car back to the speeds we hit last time, but I thought it would have been a little bit faster. We really won't know how we stand until this weekend, but we have a pretty good idea of where to start."

Do you like the different layout?

"It definitely helps with the racing. Moving back the wall off the exit of turn two pretty much enclosed the racetrack. That created a lot more room and allowed for more side by side racing. They also put in a tunnel off of turn four so there's some newer asphalt down and it's added more grip coming to the line. I can tell you right now it's faster, for sure, probably by a couple of tenths and could be more this time around."

Why not try to make it three in a row and run the truck race?

"I really enjoy racing in the truck series, but have enough going on in the Busch and Cup garages. Hopefully Matt (Crafton) can have as much luck as I've had at Phoenix and bring home a victory for KHI before we part ways at the end of the season."

What's it like to go in a proven winner at a racetrack?

"Like I always say it's good to know you're going to a place where you've won a race before. It brings back good memories, and you feel like you have a little bit more of an advantage than everyone else when you return. But the Truck Series is a lot different than the Cup side and we could really use a win for this team before the season ends."

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

What do you think of the racetrack?

"The racetrack is almost set-up like a short-track, but the corners are more sweeping and you don't use as much brake. Since they fixed the wall on the backstretch, there's a lot more of an opportunity to pass now. Cars aren't as confined to stay in line because there's no threat of hitting the wall. We've been running well on the short tracks lately and I'd like to continue that trend. Phoenix is a lot of fun once you get there, but the travel part sucks."

-rcr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Kevin Harvick , Jamie McMurray