Experience Helps Harvick

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Like any event in any sport, it's hard to know how to win before you really get the chance to experience it. A perfect example is the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. A unique format with breaks and sprints, if you haven't been in that kind of situation, it's hard to know exactly where to be when it comes down to the finish. In fact, in the 25 shootouts that have been run since 1979, only four drivers have won in their first attempt.

Last year's Shootout was the first for Kevin Harvick and a majority of his No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team. With a new Chevrolet Monte Carlo body style, smaller field, mandatory caution, and five-minute break, no one was sure what exactly to expect. Even though they churned out two great pit stops and were a contender up until the end, they didn't get themselves in the perfect position to be the one to take the checkered flag.

As it turns out, that was the worst performance of the season for Team GM Goodwrench in a race at Daytona, notching a fourth place finish in the rain-shortened Daytona 500 that next weekend and a ninth place finish in the Pepsi 400 in July. Proof that they learned a lot in 2003 about how their silver and black racing machine handles on the superspeedways. That learning curve experience makes them one to reckon with come Saturday night.

"It was some wild racing," Harvick recalled. "With the new Chevrolet body style, I could pretty much do anything I wanted to on the track. I probably could've had a better run, though. I just didn't capitalize on some opportunities I had because I wasn't exactly sure how the car was going to react. The car was great, and I had the team to thank for that."

Harvick earned his way into this year's Shootout with a pole in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis last year.

"That was pretty special," he said. "I'm not the greatest qualifier in the world, and to get a lap like that and sit on the pole at the Brickyard was pretty cool. For myself and the guys to do that was a total team effort."


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