Pocono II: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick Peace and Quiet for Pocono HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 27, 2004) - GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick has been running hard for nine of the past 10 race weekends. Unlike most NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regulars, he's a regular...

Kevin Harvick
Peace and Quiet for Pocono

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 27, 2004) - GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick has been running hard for nine of the past 10 race weekends. Unlike most NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regulars, he's a regular participant in companion events put on by the NASCAR Busch Series or Southwest Tour Series. If that wasn't available, there were times when he went out of his way to go racing at a local track nearby.

This weekend's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, however, is a crucial stop for Harvick, who considers this one of his tougher racetracks. In his seven trips at the complicated tri-oval, he's finished in the top-10 only once and has yet to post a top-five finish. To better those efforts, the Bakersfield, Calif., native has decided to take it easy this weekend and focus solely on the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

"Pocono is very important because it is one of the only places left on the schedule where we have consistently struggled," explains the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year. "I had an opportunity to race this Saturday, but have decided to relax and stay focused for Sunday's race. We're vulnerable at ninth in the points and can't take any chances."

What's interesting about Pocono is that Harvick and Team GM Goodwrench were well on their way to posting their second top-10 finish at the 2.5-mile racetrack since July of 2002 when an incident with Matt Kenseth and subsequent penalties by NASCAR dropped the silver and black racing machine back 10 spots to 20th. A solid run with no incidents is exactly what this team needs to gain momentum for next weekend's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway, where they are the defending champions.

Points of Interest...

* Playing with Points...Harvick's run-in with the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup champion in Long Pond, Penn., earlier this year and NASCAR's subsequent penalty cost him 31 points in the NEXTEL Cup Series standings. Getting that amount back at this point in the season would put him ahead of Elliott Sadler in the eighth position.

* Securing the Shifter Knob...One of the biggest problems Harvick had during June's Pocono 500 was that he couldn't get the shifter knob to stay on because of a shaky transmission. It took Team GM Goodwrench three stops to find the right knob that would stay secure, and it turned out to be a huge help towards the end of the race.

* On Top...The no DNF streak continues for Harvick. His 13th place finish in Loudon, N.H., puts his streak at 58 consecutive races, the longest streak of any NEXTEL Cup Series driver in the modern era.

* Saturday Free...For the first time in about two months, Harvick will not be racing on a Saturday before a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event. Instead, he'll take the time to relax and stay focused for one of the more taxing race venues on NASCAR's top circuit.

* The Chase...With seven races to go until the Chase for the Championship, Harvick sits ninth in the standings with 2,353 points. He's five markers ahead of Ryan Newman who sits 10th, and 17 behind Elliot Sadler who sits eighth.

* Off the Truck...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 125 to Pocono for this weekend's 500-mile event. This chassis is new for the 2004 season and has been run only once in the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway. Harvick started 17th and finished 10th in that 400-mile race.

* TV and Radio...Start time for Sunday's Pocono 500 is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 200-lap event on TNT starts at 1:00 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 Pocono...

What's your take on Pocono?

"Pocono's hard to figure out. You have three totally different corners. One and two, you're downshifting going into the corners. Three and four, you have to get through the middle of the corner and make sure that you get as much power down as you can because the straightaway is three-quarters of a mile long. You can gain a lot of speed just by getting off the corner well. You have to be careful downshifting going into turn one that you don't hurt the motor. Shock package is important with all the bumps."

What's the best way to set-up the car?

"There are too many different kinds of corners to have any unique set-up. It's more of finding a happy medium. There are a lot of bumps in turn one that you have to get through. Then, the tunnel turn is flat and fast. The last corner is pretty flat and the exit opens up and the car rolls over a lot. Turn one has a little more banking than the other two corners. The other two are pretty flat. You just hope you find a common ground and make it all work."

How frustrating was the incident with Kenseth in the spring race?

"It was definitely frustrating, but we can't do anything about it now. We presented NASCAR with everything that they needed. They made their decision and that's the way it is. The worst part was the fact that we lost 31 points and that was probably the best we've ever run at Pocono. To be caught up and then penalized in something we didn't really have anything to do with other than the fact that we got hit three times is beyond me."

Where do you see Team GM Goodwrench with seven races to go until the Chase begins?

"Right now we're just missing the consistency. Whether it's adjustments on the car or qualifying or pit stops, we're just not at that point where everything is clicking. I think a lot of it's mental with the new points system. Everybody's getting a little edgy earlier than normal because there's that cut-off point come Richmond and one bad race could make or break it."

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

What can you take from the spring race that will help you this weekend?

"The biggest thing will be staying out of trouble, but that wasn't really Harvick's fault in the first place. Other than that, we had a pretty good car towards the end of the race. We thought we were going to have our first top-10 at Pocono in quiet awhile until he got spun out. That's very promising heading into this weekend's race."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman , Elliott Sadler