Harvick Happy With Kentucky
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on July 8, 2011 | 11:02 A.M. EST
Harvick says NASCAR made a good move in scheduling the Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
SPARTA, Ky. – Count Kevin Harvick among those drivers excited about Saturday night’s first-ever Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway.
Harvick thinks bringing NASCAR’s top division to the 1.5-mile track was a wise move by the sanctioning body and brings a new-found energy to the sport.
“This is what our sport needs: new events, not necessarily new facilities, but a new facility for us to race on,” Harvick said. “Kentucky Speedway has been a great track over the years. I was fortunate enough to come here in 2001 and win the inaugural Nationwide race, so it's a place we have all been to and made a bunch of laps testing.
“A lot of us have run the Nationwide races here. It's a fun racetrack. The enthusiasm from the fans, the people and the sponsors is great. I’m excited about it.”
Part of Harvick’s enthusiasm might stem from the fact the Richard Childress Racing driver has a stellar record when it comes to first-time events. He went to Victory Lane in Kentucky’s first Nationwide Series race in 2001 and also won a pair of Cup races in the opening two years races were held at Chicagoland Speedway.
Harvick would like to add to that performance record by putting his name in the record book as the victor of the inaugural Quaker State 400 in Kentucky.
“I think everybody wants to win the first one,” he said. “You can’t ever do that twice. Every year you go back, you're always going to have another chance. But yes, there is really no bigger event than the first event you are going to have at a particular racetrack.
“So it's just a little added bonus that you can put next to that particular race and say you won the first one. We’ve been fortunate enough to win a couple of them and it's always fun.”
Driving around Kentucky Speedway might not be classified as "fun" for some - with the track’s numerous bumps causing a bit of a challenge in Thursday’s open practice session. But Harvick doesn’t mind the nuances of the speedway he believes differentiate it from other tracks similar in size and layout.
“A lot of bumps, that’s not a bad thing,” Harvick said. “Character is good in a racetrack. It’s been ground in a lot of places. The corners are shaped differently. There's really no comparison to a Chicago or a Kansas, or anything like that just because of the shapes of the corners. It’s definitely got its own characteristics.”
One of the charms of coming to a new track is the unknown factor. While Thursday’s test session was beneficial for teams and drivers to figure out what might work in both Friday’s qualifying session and Saturday night’s race, it won’t answer every question, according to Harvick.
“It’s obviously a very temperature-sensitive track and you have to keep that in the back of your mind while you're testing in the middle of the afternoon here,” Harvick said. “There are still a lot of things you won’t be able to figure out until the race is over.”