Young Guns Climb the Mountain

Young guns continue climb up mountain By Brett Borden FOUNTAIN, Colo. (May 17, 1999) Kevin Harvick has five straight top-10 finishes to his credit. For a young circuit like the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, having two rival veterans like...

Young guns continue climb up mountain By Brett Borden

FOUNTAIN, Colo. (May 17, 1999) Kevin Harvick has five straight top-10 finishes to his credit. For a young circuit like the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, having two rival veterans like Ron Hornaday and Jack Sprague on which to build fan interest in your series is a nice luxury to have. But the lifeblood of any series comes from its younger stars. Baseball needs a Ken Griffey Jr. Golf needs a Tiger Woods. And racing needs a Jeff Gordon to come along every few years. Their enthusiasm, as well as their unrefined talent, tantalizes fans with the possibilities of what lies on the horizon of their careers.

Two of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' hottest young stars, Kevin Harvick and Andy Houston, kept the heat on Hornaday and Sprague with 3rd- and 4th-place finishes, respectively, in Sunday's NAPA 300K at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Like fellow youth group member Greg Biffle, who won the Memphis 200 the week before, Harvick and Houston continued to defy their elders and fight for a championship nobody told them they could compete for. Someone forgot to tell them that they couldn't.

Harvick, 23, kept his No. 98 Porter-Cable Power Tools Ford in the hunt all afternoon, just like he had the week before. He now has five straight top-10 finishes, and three top-3s in the last four races.

"The Porter-Cable Power Tools Ford was awesome again this weekend," he said. "What can I say about (crew chief) Roland Wlodyka? The truck unloaded awesome again. The team did an outstanding job this weekend. We had one bad pit stop today. But we rebounded with two great stops."

Houston, 28, also was in the thick of things. His No. 60 CAT Rental Stores was a factor early, struggled in the middle portion of the race, then came back to contend for the win in the closing laps.

"We had ourselves a race today," he said. "We got off there in the middle part of the race. The thing was way loose and we had to pit. I think we had to pit before everybody else. Just like last week, I mean the pit crew bailed us out with awesome pit stops all day. (Crew chief) Rick (Ren) made a good call and we got track position again when it cycled back around.

"Sprague was the only one sitting pretty until that last caution came around. Then it cycled back around. We were right back there at the front and really going for the win. There at the end, we didn't have quite enough for them. You never know what's going to happen, I thought someone might get together and there we'd be ... right there in the catbird seat."

Which sounds like an appropriate spot for the CAT Rental Stores Chevrolet. But not if Harvick has anything to say about it. He has his own agenda, and is getting there not so slowly, but oh so surely.

"We'll take these 2nd- and 3rd-place finishes as long as we can keep collecting points," he said. "We'll keep ourselves in good position. We had the best truck there at the end. If we had three or four more laps, we would have moved up. But you never know what will happen in the end."

And that is the attitude that keeps Harvick and Houston charging full steam ahead, hoping that youth will be served first at the postseason awards banquet.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Andy Houston , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague