BUSCH: Daytona: Kevin Harvick preview

Harvick to make Valentine's Day "One Sweet Race". DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 9) -- The No. 21 Reese's Racing team, the defending Busch Series Owners' Champions, is poised to defend its title with a new crew and a new look. Anchored by star ...

Harvick to make Valentine's Day "One Sweet Race".

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 9) -- The No. 21 Reese's Racing team, the defending Busch Series Owners' Champions, is poised to defend its title with a new crew and a new look. Anchored by star driver Kevin Harvick, the team has its sights set on a win at Daytona International Speedway in the Feb. 14 Hershey's Kisses 300. The No. 21 Chevrolet will carry a special Hershey's Kisses paint scheme during that race.

Harvick nearly won the Busch Series season opener one year ago, but a pit road mishap kept him from victory lane. A good test session and the strength of the Richard Childress Racing superspeedway program have left Harvick and the team with high expectations.

During the off-season, RCR's Busch Series teams exchanged crews. The members of the 2003 No. 2 AC Delco team are now part of the No. 21 Reese's team, and the 2003 No. 21 PayDay team is the No. 2 AC Delco team. Rick Viers is crew chief of the No. 21 team, and Butch Hylton is the No. 2 team's leader.

Harvick, who has one of the busiest Speedweeks of any other driver, will climb behind the wheel of the Hershey's Kisses Chevrolet Feb. 12. It will not be his first time on the track this week. Harvick's Speedweeks started with the Feb. 7 Bud Shootout, followed by Daytona 500 qualifying and IROC practice. He will spend considerable time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series garage area, as he owns the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet driven by Matt Crafton.

The Valentine's Day holiday will start Feb. 13 for fans of Hershey's Kisses. Three Hershey "Kissmobiles" will drag race on the Daytona International Speedway frontstretch before the Craftsman Truck Series race. The Kissmobile race kicks off the Hershey's Kisses 300 weekend.

Two race fans will have a dream Valentine's Day at Daytona. Gene Konzen and Teri Lewis of Indianapolis will be married on the track's start-finish line before the Hershey's Kisses 300. Konzen and Lewis won the "Tie the Knot at the Hershey's Kisses 300" promotion. After a champagne toast in victory lane, the Busch Series drivers will be introduced and the green flag will wave for the Hershey's Kisses 300. All the action combined will make it one sweet race for fans at Daytona International Speedway.

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.

"ONE SWEET RACE" -- Hershey's Kisses is the title sponsor of the Hershey's Kisses 300. This marks the second consecutive year that a Hershey Foods brand has served as title sponsor of the season-opening Busch Series event. Adding to the race's excitement are several promotions, including a "Kissmobile" race, a special paint scheme for the No. 21 and a pre-race wedding.

THE "KISSMOBILE" RACE--Three Hershey Foods Corp. "Kissmobiles" will compete in a special Kissmobile race Feb. 13 on the Daytona International Speedway frontstretch. The Kissmobiles are specially-equipped trucks designed to look like three giant Hershey's Kisses. The race will precede the Craftsman Truck Series race.

SPECIAL EDITION HERSHEY'S KISS --Harvick's No. 21 Chevrolet will sport a special paint scheme for the Hershey's Kisses 300. Harvick's car will bear a silver-and-red Hershey's Kisses design to coincide with Valentine's Day and the race entitlement.

SPECIAL WEDDING CEREMONY--Before the start of the Hershey's Kisses 300, Gene Konzen and Teri Lewis, of Indianapolis, Ind., will be married on the drivers' introduction stage. They are the winners of the "Tie the Knot at the Hershey's Kisses 300" wedding promotion. The event is coined the "Ultimate Race Fan Wedding," and is just one more way that Hershey Foods is making Valentine's Day a little bit sweeter.

NEW CREW -- During the off-season, RCR's Busch Series operations "swapped" crews. The championship-winning No. 21 team, led by crew chief Butch Hylton, will now service the No. 2 AC Delco Chevrolet and driver Ron Hornaday. The No. 2 team and crew chief Rick Viers has become the No. 21 Reese's team. Viers helped Hornaday to a third-place finish in the 2003 drivers' standings.

RCR's fifth year in the Busch series -- RCR enters its fifth year of full-time Busch Series competition in 2004. RCR's Busch Series operation was founded in 2000 with Harvick and Mike Dillon driving the no. 2 and no. 21, respectively. Since its inception, the Busch Series program has garnered two championships (Harvick, 2001; no. 21 team, 2003) a rookie-of-the-year title (Harvick, 2000), 20 poles, 16 wins and more than 270 starts with 12 different drivers. Much of the program's success is attributable to long-time RCR employee and veteran leader Will Lind, who manages the program.


Crew chief Ricky Viers on preparing for Daytona--"The guys have worked extremely hard during the off-season. We brought some good cars to Daytona for the test and we're satisfied with the test. We've continued to look for speed and put a good car together for Kevin. It's our sponsor's race, and we want to do well."

On the crew swap--"I think the switch won't be as dramatic as one might think. Every week at the shop both crews work on both cars. We don't separate until we get to the track. We're still that same team as last year, which helps since we all know each other, and we've already gelled as a team. I'm excited to work with Kevin and Clint, and I'm looking forward to getting the season underway."

* Saturday's Hershey's Kisses 300 will mark Harvick's 85th career Busch Series start.

* Harvick will add "team owner" to his duties in 2004, as Matt Crafton will drive Harvick's No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado in the Craftsman Truck Series.

* Hershey Foods became champions in its first season as a primary sponsor with its PayDay brand. Hershey Foods will attempt a second championship in 2004 with its Reese's brand.

* Reese's Racing driver Clint Bowyer finished eighth in the Feb. 7 ARCA race at Daytona. The race helped Bowyer earn clearance to compete at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in April.


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Drivers Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Matt Crafton , Brian Vickers , Clint Bowyer
Teams Richard Childress Racing