Becoming a Road-Course Guru HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 5, 2003) - GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick is starting to find his knack when it comes to road-course racing. Prime evidence was the first NASCAR Winston Cup Series road-course race of...
Becoming a Road-Course Guru
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 5, 2003) - GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick is starting to find his knack when it comes to road-course racing. Prime evidence was the first NASCAR Winston Cup Series road-course race of the 2003 season at Infineon (Sonoma, Calif.) Raceway in June. Going in with a finish no better than 14th in his first two starts, he left with a career-best start of sixth and career-best finish of third under his belt.
Heading into this weekend's race in Watkins Glen, N.Y., Harvick sees the making of a similar, if not better effort than what the circuit witnessed earlier in the season. He admits that the racetracks are a little different, but it will still be a matter of finding a balance between getting the car to handle and making sure he stays on the racetrack.
"Watkins Glen is a lot faster than Sears Point," said Harvick, winner of last Sunday's Brickyard 400. "The corners are a lot more sweeping and there is a lot more speed involved. Sears Point is very technical, much more a road race. Watkins Glen is one of those places where you have to make your car handle because you carry so much speed through all the corners. It's really easy to make a mistake at Watkins Glen, and if you do, you usually end up in a lot of trouble."
In two Winston Cup starts at The Glen, Harvick has not qualified outside the top-10 and not finished outside the top-15. He's coming off the biggest win of his NASCAR Winston Cup career at Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway, and will try his best to make it a sweep for Richard Childress Racing at road course races in 2003.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on The Glen...
How's the racetrack?
"Out of the two road-courses, this is probably my favorite. The key to Watkins Glen is don't burn up the brakes going into the corners. It's typical road-course mentality - keep it on the track, keep the fenders on it, the transmission under it, and you should have a good day. We've always been really good there in the Winston Cup car, the Busch car, the trucks. Pretty much everything we've really driven there we've been good with it. I guess it just fits my driving style."
Are brakes the most important part of the car?
"Brakes are a huge part of it, along with getting your car to turn and getting up off the corners. The brakes are tortured because you are carrying so much speed down off the straightaways into the corners. Going into Turn 1, it's like a 90-degree corner and you are hauling the mail. Down the back straightaway, you go into the interloop and pretty much have to stop right there."
What's the difference between ovals and road courses?
"There's a lot more to do on road courses. 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. 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."
How cool was winning the pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Saturday?
"It gave us a lot of confidence, that's for sure. I'm not the greatest qualifier in the world, and to get a lap like that and sit on the pole at the Brickyard was pretty cool. The guys were all pumped up, and it gave us great track position heading into the race. I didn't expect to do it at all, so that was probably what was most interesting. It really didn't set in until late Saturday night."
What about following that up with a Brickyard 400 win on Sunday?
"It's really hard to put into words. I know how much it means to me. I know it means a lot to these guys, too. But just growing up, you know, obviously an open-wheel fan, to know what it meant to win the Indy 500 in an Indy car meant a lot to me. But I think for me personally, this is something you put a star beside every year, just for the fact that it's big. It's bigger in all ways. There's nothing that's not bigger about racing at the Brickyard. You know, if we'd have finished third, heck, it would have still been a great weekend. To sit on the pole and come back and win the race is just unbelievable."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on The Glen...
What are your thoughts on the racetrack?
"Watkins Glen is a rhythm racetrack. It has a ton more grip than Sonoma and it's got a lot more right hand turns. You can't make mistakes at Watkins Glen because there's no room for error with all the gravel pits. Track position is everything and it takes discipline and hitting your marks every lap. We're taking the same car we ran at Sonoma so we should be good to go."
Points of Interest...
Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 67 to the Empire State for Sunday's 90-lap event. This car participated in both road course races last season, and is the same one that Harvick piloted to a third place finish in wine country earlier this year.
Harvick's win at Indy last Sunday gave him a big boost when in comes to the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup driver points standings. With 2,623 points, he's now within 31 points of cracking the top-five and only 34 points outside of fourth.
After Saturday's two race practice sessions in Watkins Glen, Harvick will head to Lake Erie (Pa.) Speedway with Michael Waltrip, Dave Blaney, and Greg Biffle to participate in a Race of Champions Late Model event which will consist of two 10-lap shootouts.
Start time for the Sirius at The Glen is slated for 1:30 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on NBC starts at 1:00 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 1:00 p.m. as well. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.