Harvick Happy Heading to Richmond

Kevin Harvick

“Knowing that we are already locked into the Chase, we’ll be able to race harder, take a few chances and direct our focus on getting that first win of the season.” (Photo: Getty Images)

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Kevin Harvick is looking to carry momentum into the Chase with a solid run in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

The Richard Childress Racing driver is the defending race winner and has two career Sprint Cup victories at the .75-mile Virginia track.  He goes into the final race of the regular season already locked into the Chase field following a fifth-place performance last Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Harvick had a strong car early in the AdvoCare 500 but faded in the latter stages.

“We had a good car in the first half of the race,” Harvick said.  “It wasn’t bad in the second half, but with about 150 laps to go we just got too tight getting into the corner and never could get over that.”

However, Harvick was still pleased with the overall effort and what the return of crew chief Gil Martin has meant to the No. 29 team since he took over for Shane Wilson two weeks ago.

“Things are going in the right direction," Harvick said.  "Thanks to that solid run, we've clinched a spot in the Chase and can head to Richmond with a little less pressure on the team.”

Harvick has always enjoyed racing at RIR and in fact, will be doing double duty this weekend with a start in Friday night’s Nationwide Series event.  He sized up RIR and how to be successful on the challenging short track he says has attributes of a superspeedway.

“It really is a little of both, but I look at it with a short-track mindset,” said Harvick.  “There is more contact at Richmond than you have at a bigger track.  I think sometimes drivers use the short track as an excuse to beat and bang.  But as tight as the racing is there, it’s hard to not have incidental contact.”

Harvick’s confidence is high given his past Richmond success.

“Since I started racing, it seems I’ve been successful on the flatter-type race tracks.  They seem to fit my driving style,” he said.  “On paper, this is one of our best tracks.  Over the past two weeks, our team has stepped up its game and avoided big mistakes.  As long as we stay focused, avoid mistakes and make the right calls, we should have a shot to get the Budweiser Chevrolet back to Victory Lane.”

It doesn’t hurt Harvick’s confidence level to know he's already a member of this year’s Chase field.  With truly nothing to lose, he feels he can go all out to come home across the finish line first in the 400-lap event.

“It takes the pressure off of us as a team,” he said.  “Knowing that we're already locked into the Chase, we’ll be able to race harder, take a few chances and direct our focus on getting that first win of the season.”

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