All About Respect: NASCAR Veterans Say Young Drivers Need to Respect and Learn from Elder Statesmen HAMPTON, Ga. (Feb. 18, 2008) -- For DeLana Harvick, few moments in life can match the excitement of watching husband Kevin Harvick wheel the No.
All About Respect: NASCAR Veterans Say Young Drivers Need to Respect and Learn from Elder Statesmen
HAMPTON, Ga. (Feb. 18, 2008) -- For DeLana Harvick, few moments in life can match the excitement of watching husband Kevin Harvick wheel the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet into victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series.
But when it comes to getting her actual racing fix each weekend, the owner of Kevin Harvick Inc. can hardly wait to climb atop the pit box prior to the start of events in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
"I think the truck series has some of the best racing that you will see," said DeLana Harvick, the owner of Kevin Harvick Inc., which fields entries in the truck series for Ron Hornaday Jr. and Jack Sprague.
The popularity of the series can be traced to a unique blend of drivers, which includes a contingent of seasoned veterans and talented newcomers.
Travis Kvapil, who piloted the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford truck last season, will campaign the No. 28 Ford for Yates Racing in the Sprint Cup Series in 2008.
He said it's common for first-year drivers to be in awe of competitors such as Hornaday, Sprague and Mike Skinner, legends of the Craftsman Truck Series.
"I know when I was a rookie in the truck series I was pretty intimidated by the Skinners, Hornadays, Spragues and those types of drivers," said Kvapil, the 2003 truck champion. "You watched them on TV and saw them beating and banging on one another and really not having nice things to say about each other after the race."
But Kvapil, the 2001 Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the truck series, said it didn't take long for him to feel accepted by the giants of the sport who took him under their wings.
"I really didn't know what to expect," Kvapil said. "But really these are great competitors and some of the nicest guys you'll meet off the track.
"It's very important for some of the young guys, the rookies especially, to go up to these veteran drivers and pick their brain."
Longtime fan favorite Rick Crawford, a five-time race winner, said he wasn't afraid to approach the experienced drivers when he was the new kid on the block.
"When I came into the truck series as a rookie in 1997, I used the veteran drivers to get information from and ask for advice and tried not to mess them up," Crawford said. "I think the gaining of respect from rookies to veterans is a necessity in any form of racing.
"Those guys earned it back in '97. I gave it to them. I think we've earned it now. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series racing is fun. And that's probably one of the things that makes it special -- the younger guys coming through and the veterans who haven't got enough of it."
Following a rules change by NASCAR, Skinner, last season's winner of the American Commercial Lines 200, was among the contingent of drivers able to run wide open, around the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway quad-oval during a two-day test last month.
The 1995 truck series champion predicts the new engine spacer rule will keep the field bunched tightly and could produce the most exciting racing the Truck Series has ever seen at AMS. But he hopes the rookies won't be over their heads at AMS, where the winner will spend practically the entire evening standing on the throttle.
"NASCAR has decided to tighten up the competition with the approved spacer," Skinner said. "And that's going to bring those younger guys closer to the veterans.
"The way it's been, you get the veterans who are capable of running out there and we go and have our own race and we just have to miss the guys that are up and coming. And we were all there one time.
"I don't fault them at any point in time. And they're going to make mistakes and they're going to create crashes just like I've done most of my career and will probably do again."
Arguably NASCAR's most competitive form of racing, the Craftsman Truck Series rolls into Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday night March 7 for the American Commercial Lines 200.
Tickets to the American Commercial Lines 200, as well as the Kobalt Tools 500, can be obtained by visiting www.atlantamotorspeedway.com, or by calling the ticket office at 877-9-AMS-TIX, (877-926-7849) or 770-946-4211.