Double Dippin' Garvey Moonlighting in Nextel Cup Longs, SC--It's good to be Mike Garvey right now. Not only has the veteran short-track driver made a seamless transition from the American Speed Association to the Hooters Pro Cup Series, but...
Garvey Moonlighting in Nextel Cup
Longs, SC--It's good to be Mike Garvey right now.
Not only has the veteran short-track driver made a seamless transition from the American Speed Association to the Hooters Pro Cup Series, but he's also moonlighting as a Nextel Cup driver on his off weekends.
Garvey, driver of the No. 17 Jani-King Ford in Pro Cup, made his Nextel Cup debut in the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 20. Last week, Garvey made his second start of the Nextel Cup season in the Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Some may scoff at his finishes of 41st and 43rd and even label him a "field-filler." But a deeper look debunks the "grocery racer" tag and shows that Garvey's Nextel effort is a calculated shot at the big time.
"It's everyone's goal to race with the best of the best," said Garvey. "Unfortunately, there are not too many people looking for a 42-year-old driver in [Nextel] Cup. But my friend [Barry Heafele] had a car, and he felt like if we did this thing right, we could make it work. Our stuff is a little dated, and it's hard to compete against the guys with $20 million, but we get our satisfaction out of making the race."
In his first two attempts to make races, Garvey has had that satisfaction. And he's out-qualified some heavy hitters while getting it.
Though he started 43rd at Atlanta, due to NASCAR's new qualifying procedures, Garvey clipped off the 34th-quickest time in qualifying at the ultra-fast tri-oval. Garvey also turned in the 34th-quickest time in qualifying at Martinsville. But just making fields isn't Garvey's ultimate goal. He's a racer, and racers race to win.
"It's tough not to be able to race for the win, but we understand that going in," said Garvey. "I used to wonder how somebody could keep showing up and not have a chance to win, but I've learned to understand that now. If we can finish in the top-25, that's a win for us."
Garvey looked to be en route to his top-25 goal at Martinsville. In the first 10 laps, Garvey raced his way inside the top-30 before the oil temperature spiked. With only one motor, Garvey was forced to park his machine before terminally damaging the powerplant. But his competitive start to the Advance Auto Parts 500 gave Garvey reason to smile.
"We went from 34th to 23rd before the oil temperature shot to the moon," said Garvey. "The guys we passed went on to finish in the top 10. Hopefully, we can run enough of races or find some sponsorship money to update our stuff. With just a little help, we could be competitive."
While Garvey has plans for 10 more Nextel Cup races in '05, his focus will stay on his main goal: winning the 2005 Hooters Pro Cup Championship.
"When we show up at the track in Pro Cup, it's a totally different mindset for us. We expect to run in the top three and have a chance to win," said Garvey, who has one Pro Cup win in '05 and sits three points behind Shane Huffman in Southern Division points. "We're showing up trying to win, and that's what keeps your juices flowing as a racer."
Will the duel racing schedule tax his Pro Cup goals?
Garvey believes it will only help.
"I was really surprised to see how much translates between the Pro Cup cars and the Nextel cars," said Garvey "The ASA cars were a totally different car. The Pro Cup and Nextel cars are pretty similar. I really don't have that much experience in big cars lately, so the more seat time I get, the better.
"I'm having fun and racing for wins in Pro Cup, and I'm making Nextel Cup races. Yeah, it's good to be Mike Garvey."
Yes, it is.