Sears Point: Kevin Harvick preview

The road "Survival" course HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 17, 2003) - Road Courses are renowned for tearing up racecars. When you put 43 cars on a one-lane road going upwards of 100 miles per hour at times, people tend to bump and get into each ...

The road "Survival" course

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 17, 2003) - Road Courses are renowned for tearing up racecars. When you put 43 cars on a one-lane road going upwards of 100 miles per hour at times, people tend to bump and get into each other, causing all kinds of trouble. GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick has some advice on avoiding that as he gets ready for the first NASCAR Winston Cup Series road course race of the season at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

"Sonoma is one of those places where track position is more important than anywhere we go," says the Bakersfield, Calif., native. "Basically, how it works is you work the race from backwards forward on how many laps you can run. As soon as you can pit, you come in and pit, take your tires and stay out on the racetrack ahead of the rest of the field."

Harvick finished 14th in two Winston Cup races at the 2.52-mile road course. Last year, he started 24th and dealt with a tight condition that kept him outside the top-10 throughout the 110-lap race. Harvick and Team GM Goodwrench know they need to improve on that to get the silver and black racing machine back in the top-10 in points.

In order to help his cause, the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year will run the Featherlite Southwest Tour Series race on Saturday in the No. 29 Kevin Harvick Inc. Snap-on Chevrolet Monte Carlo. This will be the second year in a row he'll participate in this race, finishing 35th in 2002 due to an ignition box problem halfway through the 64-lap event.

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

Talk about Sonoma:

"The biggest thing there is not tearing your car up. 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."

Do you like road-course racing?

"I enjoy it. We've always been pretty fortunate to have decent finishes. We've always run really good at Watkins Glen. I think we finished 14th the last two years at Sonoma. I won a Winston West race there in 1998. So, we have had decent success there, but I'd like to think we can do better."

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."

Why run the Featherlite Southwest Tour Series race on Saturday?

"The main thing is to help Snap-on, our sponsor for the race. This will be the second year in a row we do something for their region out there. They've always been good to us. At the same time, it will help me out because road racing is a lot about rhythm. Even though it's not in the same horsepower car or the same tire, it's still just picking things up on the track that you can use as reference points to turn into the corners or off the corners. You'd be amazed what little things you can pick up just by making some extra laps around that track."

Is it nice to head home to California?

"Always. We've got some of my family coming out. My cousin is just starting to get into racing. Him, his dad, and his mom are coming up, so that's cool. I don't get to see them very much. It's kind of cool that I've got somebody else in my family that's driving. He's racing Late Models at Mesa Marin (Calif.) Raceway down where I got my start. I raced him when we were at California in April and unfortunately he broke too early for us to get to really race each other."

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

What are your thoughts on road courses?

"The most important part of road course racing is track position. You want to pit the least amount of times as possible and get out of the pit sequence so you can run out on open road. Sonoma is very demanding on the car. You have to be mindful of the transmission, suspension, and brakes because they tend to burn up fast. The set-up of the car is totally different from the rest of the places we go. There's no off-set with the tires and the car is balanced on both sides so you can get through all the left and right hand turns."

Points of Interest...

Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 67 to Sonoma, Calif., for Sunday's SaveMart 350. This car participated in both road course races last season, and is the same one that had an in-car camera catch fire in the cockpit while Robby Gordon was driving at Watkins Glen International on August 12, 2001.

Harvick posted his fifth win en route to the 1998 NASCAR Winston West Series championship at Infineon Raceway . Starting from the third position, he led only the last lap and won by .154-seconds.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Robby Gordon