Bakersfield's Harvick ready for road course racing at Infineon HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 20, 2006) -- Bakersfield, Calif., native Kevin Harvick returns to his home state this week for Sunday's running of the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon...
Bakersfield's Harvick ready for road course racing at Infineon
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 20, 2006) -- Bakersfield, Calif., native Kevin Harvick returns to his home state this week for Sunday's running of the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, north of San Francisco, Calif. It marks the first of two road course events on the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule. But, it will not be the first time in 2006 that Harvick has turned both left and right on a road course. Harvick was one of nine Cup Series drivers to race in the NASCAR Busch Series event in Mexico City, Mexico on March, 5, 2006. The No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet driver wheeled his No. 21 RCR Monte Carlo to a third place finish at the 2.518-mile Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course.
"I really enjoy road course racing. I grew up in Bakersfield, Calif., racing go karts on road courses so I enjoy doing it a couple times a year," said Harvick. "Infineon is such an incredible road course. It has really good elevation changes and a nice combination of a tight course and high speed sections. It is one of the most challenging tracks I've raced on. We had engine failure there last year. We usually run well at Infineon, we just have to make sure we keep it running the whole race and we should be fine. I feel like we are a top-10 road race team."
Harvick has one top-five and one top-10 finish in five Cup Series starts at the 1.99-mile road course coming from a third place finish in 2003. Harvick finished 37th last year after engine failure doomed his chances. Although Harvick hasn't won a Cup Series race at Infineon Raceway yet, he has been a previous winner. Harvick's first victory at Infineon came in 1998 on his way to his only NASCAR Winston West Series championship. Starting from the third position, he only led the last lap and won by .154-seconds. His last victory at Infineon came three years ago in the NASCAR Southwest Series race the Saturday prior to the Save Mart 350. Starting from the fourth position, the 1995 Southwest Series Rookie-of-the-Year took the lead on the first lap and cruised to a 3.938-second win over road course racing standout Boris Said.
"The biggest thing there is not tearing your car up," added Harvick. "You have to take care of your transmission, take care of the rear-end gear, and don't wheel hop it. The main thing is to finish. It's hard to keep from getting your car torn up because the racetrack has turns and hills and it's hard to pass. It's hard to keep the fenders on your racecar. It's like going to a short track race. They usually tear as much up at Sonoma as they do at Bristol (Motor Speedway) or anywhere else. It's hard to run by yourself, let alone with 43 cars on it."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Infineon Raceway...
How's the mindset different between ovals and road courses?
"There's a lot more to do. You have to shift, stop, shift, gas it and slide. The hardest handling characteristic is to get your car to get forward bite up off the corner because you are coming off a low gear and there are a lot of hills and off-camber corners. You have to try and hook your car up the best you can. You have to concentrate on getting the car into gear; just taking care of your stuff is the main thing. It's kind of like trying to find a balance between taking care of your stuff and driving the heck out of it. It's definitely different from our weekly routine."
Are you glad this is your last double duty weekend taking place in two different states for a few weeks?
"It's really not that bad with the way the schedules are laid out. As long as we get qualifying in and everything in Sonoma we should be fine. The only thing you can't control is the weather and that would be tough for Milwaukee. That would be the hardest race where we'd have to start from scratch in and kind of depend on what we have done in the past. Hopefully Randy Lajoie can get the car set-up as close as I like it. We just have to make the best out of Milwaukee this weekend and hopefully get a top-10 and go on from there."