This Week's Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet at Pocono Raceway ... Built new for 2010, Harvick raced this chassis at Pocono in June, where he started 22nd and finished fourth. Follow the Leader ... Harvick extended his lead to 184 points over second and...
This Week's Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet at Pocono Raceway ... Built new for 2010, Harvick raced this chassis at Pocono in June, where he started 22nd and finished fourth.
Follow the Leader ... Harvick extended his lead to 184 points over second and 536 points ahead of 13th. For the season, he has two wins, nine top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in the season's first 20 races. At the same time, Harvick has finished 13th or better in 17 of the season's first 20 events.
Remarkable Turnaround ... At this point last season through 20 races, Harvick was 23rd in points and had accumulated 1,939 points. In 2010, the point leader has amassed 2,920 points, an astounding 981 more points than last year.
Race to the Chase ... With just six events remaining before the 2010 NSCS Chase field is set, Harvick enjoys a 536-point lead over 13th. The Bakersfield, Calif., driver leads all competitors with 14 top-10 finishes. Additionally, the 13-time NSCS winner has finished on the lead lap in every event but two, with the lone exceptions being Martinsville and Chicagoland. At the paper-clip shaped facility, Harvick led 57 of the first 58 laps, but suffered a brake failure that forced the team to go behind the wall for repairs. Two weeks ago at Chicagoland, the team battled a fuel pressure issue and finished 34th.
Brickyard 400 Recap ... In last weekend's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the No. 29 team gambled in the late stages by making a two-tire pit stop with 19 laps remaining. Harvick restarted in third, and three laps later he took the lead from Jamie McMurray. On the final restart, Harvick was unable to fend off McMurray, and he crossed the finish line second. RCR teammates Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton finished fourth and sixth, respectively, while Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines held down four of the top six finishing positions.
Lap Leader Everywhere ... In June's running of the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 at Pocono, Harvick ran all but eight laps inside the top 15 and finished fourth. He also led five laps, and has now led at least one lap at every track on the NSCS circuit.
How do you put in perspective the strides that RCR has made in the last year?
"It's pretty hard to put it in perspective because last year, we were, at best, a mid-pack car. This time last year was the turnaround, and when it started. We got some new cars, and last week, we took a top-five car and took a chance for the win. We were able to take that chance because our car was fast enough. Last year, we couldn't event take that chance because we weren't fast enough and we would've just been in the way."
What are your thoughts about Pocono Raceway?
"Pocono has a lot of its own characteristics, to say the least. It's a 2.5-mile triangle-shaped race track that has three pretty tricky turns. Turn one is really bumpy, and the tunnel turn has a pretty big curb and it is pretty easy to make a mistake there. Turn three is one of the flattest turns we deal with on the NASCAR circuit. It definitely has its own unique challenges."
What part of Pocono is the trickiest for you to get accustomed to?
"For me, the trickiest part of Pocono is the tunnel turn. You have to carry so much speed into that turn that there is not much room for error. The tunnel turn is so much harder to get through now than it used to be. A few years ago, there was a flat curb there and you could lean on it a little bit if you needed to. Now, there is a big curb there and, if you hit it, you'll probably be forced up the race track, and the chances of hitting the wall are pretty high."
Some drivers say the tunnel turn at Pocono is one of the most difficult turns in all of NASCAR. Would you agree with that?
"It's a very challenging corner. It's very inviting to drive the car in too far and then you push up in the center of the corner. When you get it right, it's a really, really fun corner to go through because it's really fast and the car is right on the edge getting into the corner, and you're in the gas really early on exit. The car just kind of has that loose swing as you come up off the corner and you're right up against the wall. It's really flat. There's a little bump in the middle of it. It's really fun when your car is right. If it's not right, you lose a ton of time there."
The frontstretch is so long at Pocono. When you're coming out of turn three, can you even see turn one?
"You can kind of see (turn one). It's a long way down there. The turn three exit is the most important corner on the track, just because you have that long front straightaway. If you screw up the exit of turn three, you screw up the place where you can gain the most time. You have to have a lot of horsepower and you have to have your car handling well. You have to get over the bumps right and there's a lot of technique in remembering what you need to do in each corner. A lot of elements come into play at Pocono."
Pocono has been a good track for you. Is there any particular reason for your success there?
"Pocono is a fun track to race on. The last few years, it's come down to strategy and we've been solid. It's a fun track, and it's really rough in turn one on the bottom. A lot of times you run through the middle. Usually, when my car is running good, I can run anywhere I want through turn one. The tunnel turn is a really fast corner that you run right at the bottom. It's got a really big curb that you really don't want to hit at all, because it jumps you up in the air. It's a challenging race track, and it has three totally different turns."