Inascar Test Out West:/I Day Four

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FONTANA, Calif. – A quiet off-season and a firm resolve have Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench, anticipating the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.

A NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series stalwart, Harvick intends to improve his 2004 finish – 14th in the final point standings – plus build momentum for the 2005 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. And after last year's uncharacteristic results, he's definitely ready for the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 20.

"I'm really excited about Daytona," Harvick said Thursday during the lunch break in NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing at California Speedway. "We've always done well there. We're looking forward to everything that's going to go on down there. We're ready to go."

Thursday marked the final day of NASCAR Preseason Thunder, the annual preseason test sessions that began Jan. 11 at Daytona. Both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the NASCAR Busch Series have spent the week engaged in the West Coast portion; on Monday and Tuesday, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series tested at Las Vegas while the NASCAR Busch Series tested at California Speedway. The series switched tracks for Wednesday's and Thursday's sessions, and Harvick, a Bakersfield, Calif., native, has enjoyed the time on California Speedway's 2-mile tri-oval despite powerful northeast winds.

"We've never tested here and really only ran good here one time," Harvick said. "It was big for us to come out here and do the couple of days whether the wind was blowing or not."

Harvick intends to get a lot accomplished in 2005. Aside from his rejuvenation in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, he owns Kevin Harvick Inc., which fields a team in both the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He's paring his own driving schedule in those two series, perhaps driving only two races in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and a definite 20 NASCAR Busch Series events for Richard Childress Racing's team.

Otherwise, Harvick is channeled into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, where he has two new RCR teammates – Jeff Burton and Dave Blaney.

"It's important to have good team camaraderie and have everyone – as far as drivers – get along," Harvick said. "We've got to come to a general conclusion that a win for one is a win for the other. There's not a big ego battle. There's not a struggle with the three of us. We want to go out and make the best of our situation."

That includes former RCR teammate Robby Gordon (No. 7 Jim Beam Chevrolet), who has struck out on his own this season as an owner-driver. Gordon and Harvick were thought to be ill-suited teammates at times, but Harvick says no, they're kindred spirits.

"A lot of people have made a big deal about Robby Gordon and myself, but it was like a lot of other things," Harvick said. "It got blown way out of proportion. Robby and I actually get along fairly well and didn't really have any problems. He raced hard and I raced hard."

One thing Harvick hadn't done as of Thursday afternoon was race two and half hours northwest of California Speedway to his hometown of Bakersfield – something he just might hear about later.

"It's nice to see everybody when they come out to the race," Harvick said. "I actually haven't been home, so I'm probably going to be in trouble with my sister."

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