Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

We've got the questions: but will Kevin Harvick offer any answers?

Kevin Harvick: enigmatic (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   There are a lot of questions swirling around Kevin Harvick, but not any good answers, not yet at least.
   And Harvick may not have much to offer this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where NASCAR plays the Brickyard Allstate 400 Sunday…and hoping that Goodyear's tires work longer than 10 laps this time.
   The Jeremy Mayfield soap opera has dominated the stock car tour's last off-weekend of the season – it's a straight run non-stop from here to Thanksgiving – but finally we may get back to some racing.
   And it's sure been a good summer for sports' dinosaurs, like Mark Martin, Tom Watson and Lance Armstrong.
   Will that run continue?
   And what will car owner Joe Gibbs do with Kyle Busch, whose on-track talents are only matched by his off-track bad attitude?
   Goodyear engineers have worked their tails off since last summer fiasco here, and they and testing drivers feel the Indy tire they've all come up with should do a good job in Sunday's 400. The problem at the Indy track is that the asphalt was 'grooved' – with those tiny but sharp-edged rain grooves on some interstates. Those edges last year were like razor blades, Kurt Busch says; this year he hopes they're just dull-edged blades.
    Even with a good tire, however, some teams have worried that rain, say on Saturday night, might wash the track clean of built-up rubber before Sunday's 400 and make for another tough afternoon. However Goodyear says it's got that part of the problem solved too.
    Is Harvick interested in following Tony Stewart's lead last year and ask out of the final year of his contract with car owner Richard Childress in order to move to another team? That's what it's looking like, though Childress insists he's going to hold Harvick to the 2010 part of their deal.
    And what about sponsor Shell-Pennzoil? Would that stay with Childress; and if so, with who as driver? Or might it follow Harvick somewhere?
   No one wants to talk about it.
   What Harvick will say is that last year's Brickyard 400 was difficult for everyone.
   "It was ultra-bad for us, because we had a really fast car," Harvick says. "Kurt Busch spun out right in front of us, and we wound up getting wrecked.
    "It's the only race I've ever been in where I was 23 or 24 laps down and I was getting the 'lucky dog' (free pass around).
    "That was a unique situation, to be part of a race like that. But everyone made it through it, and everyone was safe…but it wasn't good."
   The fans were booing at the finish, and it remains to be seen how many return for this year's running.
   The crowd at Chicago the last tour stop wasn't very pretty. And its TV ratings (3.0) were the worst of the season.
   That's not much of a lead-in.
    Last summer at Indy NASCAR officials, after seeing tire wear issues late Saturday afternoon, decided to throw yellows every 10 laps or so in the 400, to allow teams to change tires. That was quite bizarre.
   "It was probably good that we stopped every eight or 10 laps, because you just held your breath waiting for the tires to blow out," Harvick said. "That was pretty nerve-wracking.
    "As soon as the car would start to do something different, you would be on pins and needles, because you can't stop. You've got to keep going and keep pace.
   "So you just tried to pace yourself as best you could, and run your car as easily as you could without losing ground…and waiting for the tires to pop."
   Harvick is one of the Brickyard winners, winning from the pole in 2003. But this season he concedes has been one of the worst of his career.
   Can he and crew chief Gil Martin put those troubles behind them?
   Well, maybe they can pull something off….though he hasn't had a top-10 finish since Atlanta back in March, and he ran only 19th at Chicago, and he's averaging a 23rd place run each weekend this season.  
   "Track position is really important," Harvick points out.
    Because Indy is a difficult track to pass on, to begin with, and the car-of-tomorrow seems such a handful for these drivers.
   "And you need horsepower, a good-handling car…and you have to put yourself in the right position with 25 or 30 laps to go," Harvick says. "You also have to capitalize on the last pit stop and be able to have good track position at the end of the race to have a chance to win."

Kevin Harvick's future is a hot topic as Indianapolis Motor Speedway opens for Sunday's Brickyard Allstate 400 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com