Watkins Glen: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick Watkins Glen a Welcome Stop for Harvick HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 10, 2004) - Everyone knows that there are racetracks along the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit that drivers just love to visit. Whether it's because ...

Kevin Harvick
Watkins Glen a Welcome Stop for Harvick

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 10, 2004) - Everyone knows that there are racetracks along the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit that drivers just love to visit. Whether it's because they've won at the venue in the past, excelled there over a certain number of years, or it brings back memories of younger years, these are the times when you see these drivers really stand out and make the most of their trip.

GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick would definitely name Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International as one of his favorite stops on the 36-race schedule. Not only does it evoke memories of his go-kart days growing up in Bakersfield, Calif., but it's because he's always been competitive there no matter what he's driving. In eight starts dating back to his first full NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season in 1997, Harvick has posted three top-five, five top-10, and six top-15 finishes. He has started inside the top-11 in every race at the 2.45-mile oval since 1998, but never inside the top-five.

"I really like visiting Watkins Glen," says the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. "Out of the two road-courses, this is probably my favorite. The key to getting around it is don't burn up the brakes going into the corners so that was one of the big things we worked on at our test at VIR (Virginia International Raceway) last week. 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."

Fresh off the test at VIR, Harvick is set to make the most of the last road-course race of the 2004 season. Sitting ninth in the driver points standings with only five races to go until the Chase for the Championship begins, the 2000 NASCAR Busch Series champion looks to make his ninth appearance at The Glen his best yet.

Points of Interest...

* Good at The Glen...Harvick has been solid at The Glen since finishing seventh in his third Truck race in 1999, posting two top-three finishes in as many NASCAR Busch Series starts and one top-five and two top-10 finishes on NASCAR's elite level.

* VIR Testing...In preparation for Sunday's road-course race, Harvick and Team GM Goodwrench took time last Tuesday to test at Virginia International Raceway. Their main objective was to test different brake calipers that will help the 28-year old Harvick maneuver through the 14-corners at Watkins Glen a little smoother.

* Logging Laps...Watkins Glen is one of four tracks on the NASCAR circuit in which Harvick has finished on the lead lap every time he's raced there. The other three are Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, Infineon (Sonoma, Calif.) Raceway and Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway.

* New Guy...The No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team has a new team manager. Mike Dillon, general manager of competition at Richard Childress Racing (RCR), announced last week that Scott Miller will be taking over the responsibilities once held by Gil Martin, who has been put in charge of special programs for RCR.

* The Chase...With five races to go until the Chase for the Championship, Harvick sits ninth in the standings with 2,562 points. He's 20 markers ahead of Ryan Newman who sits 10th, and 22 behind Bobby Labonte who sits eighth.

* Off the Truck...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 67 to the Empire State for this weekend's 220.5-mile event. This chassis has been their go-to car when it comes to road-course racing, competing in five events over the last two and a half years and finishing in the top-five twice and top-15 all five times.

* TV and Radio...Start time for Sunday's Sirius at The Glen is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 90-lap event on TNT starts at 1:30 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 1:00 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Watkins Glen...

How was the test at VIR?

"We were really happy with how things went at VIR. Really the only thing we worked on was playing around with the brakes to try and get me to stop better getting into the corners. We'd put a set on, I'd go out and run some laps and tell them what I thought. Then, we'd slap another set on and do it again. I think we picked up some good information that will help me this weekend. I've always been really good at Watkins Glen with pretty much everything we've driven there. 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 straight-aways into the corners. Going into Turn 1, it's like a 90-degree corner and you are hauling the mail. Down the back straight-away, 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 big a role will the team play during this weekend's race?

"I've always said you're only as good as the people that are around you. This weekend at Watkins Glen what we do on pit road is going to be big because it's so hard to come by track position there. Over the past few weeks we've been hit and miss on pit road. In Loudon (N.H.) we had a great race car and made some mistakes in the pits. We had a car that was capable of winning and finished 13th. If you don't put the whole day together you can't win a race. It's everything on pit road. You have to have a good car on the track, but if you're not comfortable you don't have a chance to win the race."

No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Watkins Glen...

What's your take on Watkins Glen?

"Watkins Glen is a rhythm racetrack. 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. Our test in Virginia last week was very helpful because it gave us a chance to work on some brake variations that we normally wouldn't be able to do on a race weekend. It also allowed Harvick to get a little early road-course practice."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman