Kevin Harvick, No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet, Race Recap AutoClub 300, California Speedway, Fontana, CA Saturday, April 28, 2001 Kevin Harvick qualified fifth for the NASCAR Busch race at California Speedway in front of the hometown crowd which came...
Kevin Harvick, No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet, Race Recap
AutoClub 300, California Speedway, Fontana, CA
Saturday, April 28, 2001
Kevin Harvick qualified fifth for the NASCAR Busch race at California Speedway in front of the hometown crowd which came down from Bakersfield.
During pre-race practice sessions, Harvick and crew chief Todd Berrier worked to find a setup that would allow the ACDelco Chevrolet to turn through the corners and accelerate down the straight-aways without pushing up the racetrack. The Chevrolets have had less front downforce than the other manufacturers at California making it difficult to keep the nose of the car planted. They tried to combat it as much as possible.
As the race got underway, it appeared as though their preparations had paid off for the better as Harvick was able to drive up to second by lap two. Shortly thereafter, however, Harvick noticed the car began to loosen up while he was running in traffic. He slipped to seventh by lap 38.
Harvick pitted for fuel and tires for the first time on lap 47 and came out sixth. He checked in, shortly thereafter, sixth in the running order at the halfway point of the race on lap 75. Not long after that point, the car began to free up a bit more than Harvick wanted. Fortunately, however, as the laps piled up on the ACDelco Chevrolet, the handling improved and he began to turn lap times as fast as the leaders by lap 113 while running the low groove.
The race leaders began to pit under green beginning on lap 128 for fuel as Harvick ran in eighth. Harvick stayed out on the racetrack longer than most as he assumed the first position by lap 136 and hoped for a caution. Berrier, however, could wait no longer and called Harvick to the pits on lap 140 for a splash of fuel only with just 10 laps to go. A quick stop was critical because track position is so critical at California that any wasted time in the pits can be costly.
Fueler Larry Hartle helped Harvick get in and out of his stall in just over three seconds and he resumed racing in fifth. Harvick held his position against a hard charging Greg Biffle who pitted for tires early in the cycle of pit stops which cost him. Harvick finished fifth to score his fourth top-five of the season. Hank Parker Jr. won the race by gambling on fuel mileage and staying out during the entire green flag run. Harvick's points rivals, Jeff Green, Biffle and Jason Keller, finished third, sixth and 15th, respectively. Biffle maintains the series points lead, but Harvick trails by just three points.
"The ACDelco team did a great job all day. We never did have the car perfect, but it got better as the runs went on and we were fortunate that there weren't many cautions. It was tough for us to run with the Fords. But Todd and the guys had great strategy today and that's what got us the top-five. California is a really tough track to pass on and track position is really important. Todd and Richard stressed that at the beginning of the race and we tried to keep ourselves within striking distance of the lead. Pitting when we did, late in the run, helped us get back out quickly and get in the top-five. We watched the two leaders come in and change four tires and we knew we didn't want to do that because we'd surrender too much track position."