A CONVERSATION WITH TWO-TIME TROPICANA 400 WINNER, KEVIN HARVICK, AS HE GOES FOR HISTORY THIS WEEKEND

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On July 13, Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet, will be gunning for his name to be written in the record books by winning his third Tropicana 400 in a row. No driver in recent NASCAR Winston Cup Series history has ever won the first three races at any track. Only three other drivers have won the first two events at a track: Tony Stewart won at Homestead Miami Speedway in 1999 & '00, Jeff Gordon won at Kansas Speedway in 2001 & '02, and AJ Foyt won at Ontario in 1971 & '72.

Note: The following is taken from a conversation Kevin Harvick and his crew chief Todd Berrier had with the media in a recent teleconference about Chicagoland Speedway, the 2003 season and his quest for an historical third Tropicana 400 win in a row.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY?
"From the first time we unloaded, it's just been one of those places that fits my driving style. The first year that the track opened, Jeff Green and Todd (Berrier) went up there and had a really good test. Luckily everything transferred over into everything that I like in a race car. We went back this year and tried all the stuff that we've had for the last two years and it was still relatively good. By the end of the test, everything on the car was completely different than it had been the last two years. We'll probably attribute most of that to the new body styles of the Chevrolets and hopefully we can go back and at least get a solid top five out of the weekend and hopefully have a chance to defend out last two wins."

CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT YOU MEAN WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY FITTING YOUR DRIVING STYLE?
"I wish I could explain it so I could transfer it somewhere else. It's just one of those places where you scoot the front tires. The front end pushes a lot up off the corner and the tires are really hard and you're carrying a lot of speed up off the corners there. It's also one of those places where you just barely let off the gas getting into the corner and you're pretty much on the gas pedal from a quarter of the way through the corner all the way through the exit of the corner. So, your car's got to handle good to keep it from pushing the front end up off the corner. I wish I knew why it's just one of those tracks that fits my style. I can't really explain it. But I know the characteristics of the race car are one reason that I've had success there."

TALK ABOUT YOUR STRONG STRING OF FINISHES FOLLOWING THE SONOMA STOP ON THE TOUR FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS
"That's been a pretty normal train for us for some reason. The summer months for us are really strong for some reason. I don't know what that's attributed to. I don't know if we're just getting into the flow of things or if it's just the race tracks we're going to. It's a really good part of the schedule for us. Sonoma was great for us this year and I thought we had a chance to win our first race of the year last week (at Daytona), but obviously the circumstances played a different card. But that's what we have to do. We have to run in the top five and we've done that in the last couple of weeks. We've done a lot of testing over the past three weeks and I've been in the race car pretty much every single day with maybe one day a week off. That's the plan. Hopefully the results will keep showing up like they are."

TALK TO US ABOUT BEING ONE OF ONLY FOUR DRIVERS TO HAVE EVER WON THE FIRST TWO RACES AT A TRACK
"We're just fortunate to be in Winston Cup racing. To come from Bakersfield and racing Go-Karts and Late Models to have a pretty successful start to my Winston Cup career and then to be lumped in that one small category with all those guys names (Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, and AJ Foyt) is pretty neat for me. Hopefully we can carry it over from two wins to three. I don't know who is in that category, but that would be pretty neat too. All I've heard from people in Chicago is tha

t it's a three-peat town. So I'm going with that."

WHAT IS YOUR LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE GOING INTO THIS WEEKEND?
"We pretty much go into the weekend thinking we'll have a great qualifying effort and that we'll have a chance of winning the race. That's just the mindset you have going to a place where you've had so much success. It's the same mindset we had going into Daytona. We expected to have a chance to sit on the pole and have a chance to win the race. There are a lot of circumstances that can come into play. Last year we had a fast car and the circumstances worked in our favor. When we get there, we expect to unload off the trailer and set a good lap right off the bat. That's a good feeling going into a weekend that you expect to go out and have success."

DO YOU CIRCLE CHICAGO ON THE CALENDAR?
"Oh, yeah. You put a big red circle around it - especially after you've won there the last two years. And then obviously you circle all four speedway races for the people at RCR and the road courses and short tracks and you put two circles around Bristol because we've had a lot of success there. There are a lot of race tracks on the schedule where we've had a lot of success and expect to have more success. There are also a few on there that sometimes I wish they'd just fill them up with water. But that's what makes our schedule so unique. If there wasn't a race track that I didn't like on the schedule, I'd probably be lying to you."

AT THE HALFWAY POINT IN THE SEASON, DO YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF AS POSSIBLY WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP IF THINGS COME TOGETHER QUICKLY?
"Last year, I think we out-scored everybody during the summer months by about 200 points. Matt Kenseth (leader) is pretty far out there at this point. But I think the Roush teams have been in this position before of winning championship but then pretty much blown it. I don't want to wish any bad luck on anybody, but if we can make up some point here in the next few weeks our ultimate goal is to win a Winston Cup championship. But when you're going week to week through the season you just have to race the people around you and try to overcome the points. If you go out and lead laps and win races, you don't have to worry about who's around you. I don't think we can really focus on trying to win a championship; we just have to make sure we finish races and turn bad days into something better. But right now, we're worried about trying to win a race."

YOU HAVE PICKED UP ON JUST ABOUT EVERY RACE TRACK. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU THINK YOU NEED TO DO TO IMPROVE ON AT THIS POINT?
"Consistency. At the beginning of the year we really struggled with our (new) bodies and we've got all that turned around now. The thing we have to do now is just what we've been doing for the past couple of weeks. We need to lead laps and run in the top 10 and hopefully finish in the top five and have a chance to win the race. Right now, everybody is so positive and the cars are running good. That does more for everybody and for myself than anything else. You're always going to have a weakness at certain race tracks or certain points in the races. But it's how you overcome those things that make you succeed."

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THIS SEASON IN COMPARISON TO THE 2001 AND 2000 SEASONS?
"This year everybody just put their heads down and put their heads together and tried to make it all better. We've done that. And then Richard (Childress) changed Todd and Gil's positions and that helped me a ton. Todd and I have a relationship that's really strong. It's more like a brotherly relationship. He can tell what I'm feeling or thinking without my having to say anything. We've come through a lot of things that might have caused a little turmoil, but now we don't let it affect what we have to do in the big picture."

HOW HAVE YOU GOTTEN BETTER AT DEALING WITH THE DEMANDS OF WINSTON CUP RACING?
"The biggest thing I'

ve had to learn is that I can't please all the fans. You do everything you can when you're around the fans because they make it all go round. But the main things I have to worry about are DeLana, and Richard, and all the people at RCR and all the sponsors. We have to go way out of our way to make sure they're happy. If you try to make the whole entire world happy, you're going to wear yourself out because it's just not possible. You just have to let a lot of things roll off your shoulders and take a more relaxed approach to it. When you get in the race car, you need to funnel all that energy into concentrating on what you need to do behind the wheel."


Q&A'S WITH TODD BERRIER, CREW CHIEF FOR THE NO. 29 CAR:

HAS HARVICK TOLD YOU WHAT HE NEEDS TO WIN THREE IN A ROW AT CHICAGOLAND?
"We went there and tested a few weeks ago. We really wanted to make sure that we didn't go there and screw up since we've been so successful there in the past. The odds are not in your favor to go back and three-peat. So we wanted to cover all the bases we could to make sure we'll go there and run good."

WHAT MAKES A RELATIONSHIP WORK BETWEEN A DRIVER AND A CREW CHIEF?
"I don't really know what it is. There are certain things that work and things that don't. We just hit it off and became good friends. We never had a hard time understanding one another. Everything just kind of fell into place. It worked to our benefit because we both were coming from a different series into this and we were both virtually new to it. We didn't have a lot to fall back on. He would suggest what was needed and I'd suggest what I thought. We didn't have notes from last year because we were coming straight from a truck to a car. If the circumstances were different and we didn't have all the things fall into place like they did, it may be different today. He can say what he feels and what he thinks and it doesn't hurt my feelings and vice versa."

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE ABOUT GOING FROM ONE TYPE OF TRACK TO ANOTHER WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT?
"The speedway stuff is something that this company has a fair amount of success with over the last several years. We have a certain plan that we follow on those cars. It's really a completely different animal. Probably the biggest thing are places like Martinsville with Kevin getting adjusted to being flat out running wide open to having to let off at the flag stand to make the car turn. It takes Kevin a little bit to get back in that mode. For us, we typically have different cars for all the scenarios. We tested for Chicago. For Loudon, we went to Milwaukee and tested. The biggest thing is trying to remind yourself the different strategies it takes."

SO IS EVERYTHING PRETTY GOOD AT RCR RIGHT NOW?
"Yes, and it'll get better. It'll be perfect. And then all of a sudden something is going to happen and it's going to get worse again. It's going to be uphill and downhill the whole time. I don't think there is anything we can do about that. If you had one car that ran in the back and one car that ran up front, it would be real easy for them to get along. But when two are contending for a win, sparks are going to fly. It's not a bad problem to have. If we were back there racing 28th and 29th, and 30th we're not going to race each other as hard as you would for the lead. You'd have a whole different set of problems."

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE SO CLOSE TO A WIN AND NOT HAVE THINGS GO YOUR WAY?
"In our race day meeting that we have every week with all the guys, it is a boost to have a car as good as we had at Sonoma. We had a car with potential of winning the race. At Daytona, it was the same thing. But you play your cards and when it's all said and done you can look back and see how you should have done it. It's a boost to have a car that good, and a disappointment to finish that bad with it. It's just one of those deals. As long as you an

d the team gives it all we've got, we can't expect more than that."

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