BUSCH: Bristol: Kevin Harvick preview

EVENT INFORMATION - Event: NASCAR Busch Series Sharpie Professional 250; Time and Date: 1 p.m. EST, Saturday, March 27; Site: Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn. Live Coverage: Fox (television) at 1 p.m. EST and PRN (radio) at 12:30 p.m. EST;...

EVENT INFORMATION - Event: NASCAR Busch Series Sharpie Professional 250; Time and Date: 1 p.m. EST, Saturday, March 27; Site: Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn. Live Coverage: Fox (television) at 1 p.m. EST and PRN (radio) at 12:30 p.m. EST; Qualifying: 1:30 p.m. EST, Fri. March 26, Live on SPEED (television); Happy Hour: Friday, March 26, following Nextel Cup qualifying.

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS - For the first time in NASCAR Busch Series history, the Owners' Championship and the Drivers' Championship were split. The No. 21 PayDay Chevrolet team won the Owners' Championship in commanding fashion, clinching the title at Rockingham with one race remaining in the season. The team finished 261 points ahead of the No. 5 team of Brian Vickers, who claimed the Drivers' Championship. In 2004, the No. 21 Chevrolet carries the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups colors as the team attempts to defend its title. Harvick will compete in 20 of the 34 Busch Series events this season, and rookie driver Clint Bowyer will drive the No. 21 Reese's Chevy in the 14 other events on the schedule.

TOO TOUGH TO TAME THIS TIME - Harvick's Darlington Busch Series race last Saturday started on a high note, but ended on a sour one. Harvick qualified seventh and had a great run early in the event. But poor track position and an untimely pit stop relegated him to the middle of the pack. Harvick's 22nd-place finish was a disappointing one, considering he finished fifth last fall at Darlington in his Busch Series car and second in his NASCAR Nextel Cup Series car.

A DRIVER FAVORITE-It is no secret that Bristol Motor Speedway one of Harvick's favorite tracks. The high-banked half-mile is similar to the track on which Harvick grew up racing. Harvick has had tremendous success at Bristol and is excited every time the series returns to BMS.

DEFENDING RACE WINNER-The No. 21 Chevrolet took the checkered flag in last year's spring event at Bristol. The No. 21 team has won the last two Bristol spring races (2002 Jeff Green; 2003 Harvick).

BRISTOL EXPERIENCE-Harvick has enjoyed substantial success at Bristol Motor Speedway. In eight Busch Series starts at Bristol, Harvick has claimed three wins, two poles and an average finish of ninth. In six Nextel Cup starts at Bristol, Harvick has collected three top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes, while completing 99.9 percent of the laps he has run there.

PIT CREW IMPROVING-The Reese's team continued its improvement on pit road last week in Darlington. The team has been on top of its game for most of the season, and has consistently completed stops in the 14-second range. The team is working hard at becoming the best on pit road.

BUSY BUSCH SHOP - The RCR Busch Series shop has been busy since the start of the season. After template changes over the winter, the teams were forced to hang new bodies on all their chassis. Once the teams had the speedway cars built for Daytona, the scramble was on to get caught up on the cars for the rest of the season. RCR will field three Busch Series entries in next week's Texas event with two new drivers. Clint Bowyer will make his debut in the No. 21 Reese's Chevrolet, and Bobby Labonte will drive the No. 29 ESGR Chevrolet. They will join Ron Hornaday and the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet on the track. All that preparation makes for busy days around the RCR Busch Series shop.

THE CAR-This week, crew chief Ricky Viers will load chassis No. 028 onto the Reese's transporter. The car is saw action twice in 2003 with Hornaday behind the wheel. It was involved in a wreck at Richmond in the fall and experienced transmission failure at Kansas.

QUICK QUOTES AND NOTES: Crew chief Ricky Viers on keeping the driver focused at Bristol-"Kevin prefers radio silence. We talk a lot before each race and go over strategy and how we want to adjust on the car. That lets him concentrate on the race and his spotter."

On RCR's past success at Bristol-"RCR has always had smart racecar drivers. Smart racecar drivers keep themselves out of trouble and keep their car in one piece so they have something in the end. They know to expect trouble at some point and they know who to try and avoid it as well."

Kevin Harvick on why he likes Bristol so much- "I grew up on a half-mile, high-banked racetrack. I know Bristol is a lot more banked, but it's kind of the same mindset for me driving around the racetrack. It's very fast, high-banked concrete. It's short-track beating and banging, a lot of fun. I seem to have a lot of success every time I go, so I'm always excited to go back."

Congratulations to Reese's crew member and front tire changer Joe Zielinski. He was engaged to Colette Graham before the Darlington race weekend. The couple plans to wed in December.

Harvick's 22nd-place finish Saturday at Darlington was his worst Busch Series finish since November 2002.

Harvick will compete in both Busch Series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this season, giving him "double-duty" for both weekends.

RCR's Busch Series No. 29 team tested this week at Texas Motor Speedway with Bobby Labonte behind the wheel. RCR will enter the No. 29 ESGR Busch Series car in five events this season, with five different Nextel Cup drivers in the driver's seat.

Bowyer will make his Busch Series debut next weekend at Texas. Even though Bowyer has not competed in a race since the ARCA event in Daytona, he has been very busy testing a variety of different cars, including Trucks, Busch and Winston West cars.

-rcr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Kevin Harvick , Jeff Green , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Brian Vickers , Clint Bowyer