HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina -- For the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year, racing at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway is a time warp. For Kevin Harvick, it is a kick back to the old school days of Saturday night racing in the local track feature... under lights, with a packed field, and a bunch of cars with remnants of what used to be fenders.
Already on a disco ball's roll, Harvick now stands as the guy with the momentum in the Winston Cup Series. A better bet than the Pittsburgh Steelers were to win their fourth Super Bowl in 1979, Harvick historically has his best runs at Bristol and will once again go for his first Winston Cup win at the venue.
This weekend, Harvick has the opportunity to race both the NASCAR Busch and Winston Cup Series races. In the Friday night event, Richard Childress Racing will field a No. 29 Sylvania Chevrolet Monte Carlo. And for Saturday, Harvick will run his standard No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo, talks about Bristol, old school style:
Bristol lovin', had me a blast
"Bristol. I love it. Period. I grew up racing high banked half miles at home in Calif. racing late models. We all grew up racing Saturday night features. I always talk about that when we get to run races under the lights. It's probably getting old that I say that, but it really does take you back. It gets you pumped and makes you remember the old times when it was just about racing.
"A lap around Bristol is intense. Your head's pinned to the right side, you're rubbing up against other cars constantly. If it weren't for cautions I don't now that anyone would survive it. But, we'll never know what that's like because I doubt there will ever be such a thing as a 'Caution Free Bristol.' That'd be impossible. You can win that race in a lot of ways. But if you come away with fenders, you probably weren't the guy who won. Either that or you weren't racing. You can't come away with fenders there. It's just impossible."
"Bristol is a 50/50 gamble. You may finish, you may not. You smash everything on your car in - you win. You smash everything on your car in - you lose. It's one of the few places that the way a person's car looks at the end has no relation to how they finished. Really, what it comes down to is the guy who finishes the most laps, wins. True, that's every race, but it takes on a whole new meaning at Bristol.
"You can do anything there. Coming from two laps down and doing something out-of-the-ordinary is pretty cool like we did in the Busch car in August last year (coming to win from two laps down). That's Bristol. Nothing is over there until the checkered flag drops."
Working hard for the money
"It's a harder race than to get through than most. There's so much banking and you never really have time to breathe, except under cautions. And under the cautions, your body ends up hanging to the left because you contort yourself so much hanging to the right and pulling the car to the right. There's just always something leaning on you. And, it's a short track so it's a little hotter than say a 1.5-mile."
"A lot of everything at Bristol has to do with luck. There are so many things that can happen. Being in the right place at the right time is the best kind of luck you can get. At any given moment someone can wreck you or you can get caught up in a bunch of stuff you had nothing to do with. Out of nowhere three, four, 10 cars can pile up and you get caught in the middle of them. Half the time, it isn't your fault - it probably isn't their fault, but that's where you'll find yourself."
"You feel like you're on display at Bristol. The fans are right on top of you the way they have built the grandstands. When you're in a racecar at a place like Bristol - where it's so loud just from the cars - it's hard to even hear your team on the radio. But you can see and hear the fans. It really pushes the pit crews too and I owe part of my success at Bristol to the crowd for taking it to the next level."
-The No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service team will pit Harvick for both the NASCAR Busch and Cup Series events.
-Kevin Harvick once again leads the NASCAR Winston Cup field in the last six races.