Richmond: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick Reenergized for Richmond HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 11, 2004) - Off-weekends are something new to GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick. For the last few years, the Bakersfield, Calif., native has chosen to find alternative...

Kevin Harvick
Reenergized for Richmond

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 11, 2004) - Off-weekends are something new to GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick. For the last few years, the Bakersfield, Calif., native has chosen to find alternative means of racing when the premier NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit is on vacation.

Take his first year on the circuit in 2001. Juggling full NASCAR Busch and Cup Series schedules, Harvick barely had time to take a breath while jumping back and forth between the two series. The time paid off at the end of the year when he captured both the 2001 Busch Series championship and Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year honors. Then there was last season. When there was a weekend open, he'd go race his truck or late model or Southwest Tour car. The extra time spent racing paid off again and he wound up fifth in the final Cup series point standings, his highest finishing position to date.

This year Harvick is taking a different approach. Instead of trying to find some venue where he can hop in the cockpit of anything with four wheels, he's decided to take it easy. He's still racing a lot, Busch, Trucks, and the International Race of Champions Series to be exact, but he's utilizing his off-weekend's to relax and reenergize himself. It's allows him to sit back and think about what's coming up, refocus and get ready for the next run of events.

On the docket this week for the NEXTEL Cup Series is Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, a racetrack Harvick loves and recently visited for a Goodyear tire test. The 2000 Busch Series champion is currently sixth in the point's standings, the highest he's been after 10 races in four years on the circuit. A win would certainly keep that momentum going.

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

What did you learn at the Goodyear tire test a few weeks ago?

"We learned that the racetrack is going to be extremely fast. The racing surface is super smooth and they did a great job repaving it. The bumps in turn two are gone and it's really grippy. We went there with a basic race set-up that we used in the past and utilized the test to work on what we think the track might be like when we go back this week. We made a ton of long runs over the two-day test and ended up pretty happy when all was said and done. The bottom groove is definitely going to be the preferred line and it's going to take some time to work a second groove in."

How did the tires hold up on the new asphalt?

"We started out the first day with a softer compound and the tires started to blister after the first 25-lap run. Once they switched us to the harder compound, the tires seemed to hold up a lot better and they held up pretty much an entire run. The tires are going to be very similar to what we ran at Bristol (Tenn.) in March."

Did you enjoy the off-weekend? "Not doing anything this past weekend was great. DeLana and I didn't really do much at all. We hung around the house, pressure-washed the garage, cleaned the dogs, and just relaxed. It was one of the more relaxing weekends I've had in a while. I'm really starting to take more time and not do as much on the weekend's we have this year. It gives me a chance to stay focused on all that's going on. We're at such a good spot in the standings right now that I want to make sure I am fresh and ready to go when we go back to racing each and every week."

What is it about Richmond that makes everyone so happy to go there?

"It's Saturday night racing at its best. Also, I think everybody loves racing there because we know we get a Sunday off. It's the style track most everyone grew up on - three-quarter mile, plenty of room to race. The last couple of races have been a little harder because of sealer problems, but they seemed to have fixed that with the new surface."

How do you like racing under lights?

"Well, it's neat for the fans and good for the drivers because it keeps us cool in the cars. I think you get a bigger speed sensation at night, with the brakes glowing and the sparks flying everywhere. Believe it or not, it's actually easier to see from a driver's standpoint when you are racing at night. They've done such a good job with the lights that there are no shadows around the racetrack. It's crystal clear viewing as opposed to racing during the day."

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

How valuable was the Goodyear tire test for you?

"Any time you can go and test and not have it count against you, it's worthwhile. We got to see the new surface before anyone else did and put a bunch of laps down in race trim. The harder compound tires hold up fine. They are a lot like the tires we ran in Bristol. Track position will still be key and the bottom groove will definitely be the preferred line. As far as set-up, the track will change so much in the two days with the surface you'll have to be careful and stay ahead of it."

Points of Interest...

* Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No.110 to the .75-miel oval for this weekend's 300-mile event. This chassis, the same one they tested with at Richmond two weeks ago, has been run one time this season at Texas Motor Speedway where Harvick finished 13th. This chassis was used more than any other last season, running 10 times over the course of the 36-race schedule and posting two top-five and four top-10 finishes.

* To get a head start on back-to-back race weekend's at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., later this month, Harvick and Team GM Goodwrench will spend Tuesday night testing at the 1.5-mile speedway.

* Harvick collected his first NASCAR Busch Series win at Richmond International Raceway last May in the Hardee's 250 running the No. 21 PayDay Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Richard Childress Racing. He didn't lead the most laps, but he led the most important and picked up his 10th NBS victory of his career.

* Start time for Saturday night's Chevy American Revolution 400 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 400-lap event on FX starts at 7:00 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 7:00 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

-rcr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick
Teams Richard Childress Racing