No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet
Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway
Budweiser Racing Team Notes of Interest
• Following their sixth-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet team will travel to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., for Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
• The Bakersfield, Calif., native grew up just over 150 miles from where Auto Club Speedway is located, and after 17 starts at the two-mile track without a trip to Victory Lane, Harvick is looking to score the win in Sunday’s race in front of his hometown crowd.
• Harvick will race chassis No. 299 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend. He drove this Chevrolet to a second-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2010.
• In 17 starts at the Fontana, Calif., speedway, Harvick has earned two top-fives and seven top-10 finishes. In addition, he’s completed 98.3 percent (4,134 of 4,205) total laps and has led a total of 59 laps at Auto Club Speedway. Harvick has an average starting position of 18.4 and an average finishing position of 17.1 at the track.
• In last year’s spring race at Auto Club Speedway, Harvick and RCR’s No. 29 team made a late-race charge for the win and closed to within 0.311 seconds of the leader with less than five laps to go. In the closing laps, Harvick brushed the wall, knocking the right-front fender in, and took the checkered flag in second place. The finish was a career-best for him at the two-mile track.
• Harvick started the 2011 season off ranked 37th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings after a rare engine failure in the Daytona 500. In the races since, the Bakersfield, Calif., driver has jumped up 22 spots to 15th in the driver point standings thanks to earning a fourth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway, rallying back from a late-race accident to score a sixth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway and collecting three bonus points for leading laps. Harvick currently sits just 13 points outside of the top 10 entering the fifth race of the season.
• Harvick will be available to members of the media at the No. 29 team hauler in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage on Friday, March 25, at 10:45 a.m.
• As the NCAA tournament enters the fourth (Sweet 16) and fifth (Elite Eight) rounds of competition this week, Harvick is pulling for Duke University to close in on winning the school’s fifth NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. In doing so, he’s rooting against wife DeLana’s beloved University of North Carolina Tar Heels, who are going for their sixth championship.
• In addition to his driving duties with the No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet team, Harvick, a two-time champion in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, will drive Kevin Harvick Incorporated’s No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet in Saturday’s 300-mile race. The race will air live on ESPN beginning at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The race will also be broadcast live on MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.
• For the online version of the Budweiser Racing media guide, please visit http://www.budracingmedia.com.
• Become a fan of Budweiser on Facebook. Exclusive information, photos and video footage of Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team can be found on the Budweiser Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/Budweiser.
• Follow along each weekend with Harvick and the team on Twitter. Check out @KevinHarvick for behind-the-scenes information straight from the driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet. Get live updates from the track each weekend from @Black29Car, the PR team for Harvick. Also, follow @RCRracing and @RCR29KHarvick for additional information about the Richard Childress Racing organization.
Kevin Harvick discusses racing at Auto Club Speedway, last year’s race there, the new point system and his pick to win the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship:
You almost won at Auto Club Speedway last year. A lot of people thought you had it.
“Yeah, I got a little overanxious. I think a lot of that comes from the year before and not being competitive week-in and week-out and just getting in a hurry there at the end of the race. I should have just let the last few laps play out and tried to take control over the last couple of laps instead of trying to force the issue there at the end.”
Did that experience help you win races throughout the season?
“Yeah, I think that was definitely the best lesson I learned last year, and luckily it happened early. I got back in that mind frame of running up front, being competitive and putting myself in contention to win races.”
Do you think how well you and Jeff (Burton) ran there last year was a signal that RCR turned a corner and is competitive on the big tracks?
“Yeah, you have to be competitive on the mile-and-a-half race tracks to be in contention. I think, as you look at the bulk of the schedule, if you’re not competitive on those types of tracks, you’re in trouble.”
Did you guys know you were that good when you went to California last year, or were you pleasantly surprised you were that good?
“We had a good idea by the way we ended the year before that we were going to run pretty decent. I don’t think anyone could have expected it to start off as good as it did last year. Hopefully we can continue that through this season.”
What do you like about Auto Club Speedway?
“As its aged over the years, the grooves have become really wide and the setup for the cars is becoming really important there. For the drivers, it’s become a lot of fun to race on.”
Has the new points system changed the way you race? Do you like the changes to the points system?
“There’s a lot of talk about the points system, but honestly, it doesn’t affect what we do. We go out and race as hard as we can each week and get the best result we can. We wouldn’t race any different no matter how it was structured.
“I think it’s much simpler to follow when you know each position is one point. The intent of the point system was to make it simpler. I think it’s done fine and exactly what they intended it to.”
Have you been watching any of the NCAA March Madness games? If so, who have you picked to win?
“My brackets aren’t looking great, but I don’t think anyone’s is with all the upsets. I think Duke is going to win it all.
“I haven’t had a chance to watch many games, but we’ve watched a lot of the North Carolina games. It’s fun to watch. (DeLana) likes to give me grief over a lot of things. She likes to root against the (New York) Yankees and the teams that I root for, so it’s a lot more fun to watch the games if I can give her grief about her (Tar) Heels.”