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How about that Kevin Harvick! He just seems to have a knack for it at Daytona


It was a night of fireworks all the way around (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   It was a hell of a race, and a hell of a finish. And how Kevin Harvick pulled it off….well, the guy just has a knack at Daytona.
   Just like he did in winning the 2007 Daytona 500, Harvick made a last-lap charge to the high-side and caught Jamie McMurray to win Saturday night's Bud Shootout – and just behind them, everyone crashed.
   "I lost the draft, but came back up through there, thinking 'Man, we won a Daytona 500 this exact same way -- by just never giving up," Harvick said.
   "And if that was not fun to watch, I don't know what is. That was some wild racing. Awesome. What a race.
    "That was wild as heck there at the end."
     This Shootout was certainly worth the price of admission for the 80,000 or so who showed up.
     So was Harvick's run in the Shootout an indication of what to expect from him and crew chief Todd Berrier this season?
    "Over the last five years we've had moments of everything that we needed to do, but we just need to put it all in one year," Harvick said.
    "Last year from Chicago on (mid-July), we ran in the top-10, top-five every week.  In 2006 we won a ton of races.  In 2003 we were consistent, but just fell behind in the beginning.
     "We've got all the ingredients.  We've made a couple small changes to the teams. And we added a (fourth) team.  We made a couple small changes within our team. 
    "It's a lot easier to take these teams apart than it is to build a championship team.  But we have good chemistry. We're all a lot calmer than we were five years ago…and relaxed. We really get along well with each other.  That means a lot.
    "And our experience carries us when we're having a bad day.  Like here -- we could have all flipped out and had something crazy happen.  But we all kept our heads on, stayed calm, wound up winning the race.
    "Now I'm not going to sit here and promise you we can beat Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus…because they've been hard to beat the last three years. 
    "But right now we don't think anybody can beat us."


   Crew chief Todd Berrier, mid-race repairs on Kevin Harvick's Chevy (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Harvick needed some quick repairs from crew chief Todd Berrier during the mid-race break: "We got squeezed up in the wall, and it knocked the left-front fender off.
    "It seemed like I was in the wrong spot the whole race…and then there at the end I wound up being in all the right places at the right time, and had a car to go with it."
   The action was frantic right from the start and never let up.
   "I don't know if you can hold on for 500 miles with everything like that. I don't know if we have enough cars.
   "That was a lot of built-up tension in drivers -- really looking for something to hang out on the edge.  Everybody got a good show."
   Harvick had to make a gamble of a move late, when Denny Hamlin gave him a key bump-draft push.
   "I told them on the radio 'We've got one shot to win, and that's probably going to be up the middle," Harvick said. "It's not really where I wanted to be, though.
   "But we got a good run going into the first corner…we kept that momentum….luckily the car turned."
   Hamlin couldn't stay with Harvick.
   It certainly wasn't an easy night for Harvick – "We hit the wall pretty good in the beginning of the race, tore the left-front fender off. But we were able to get that fixed.
   "This car is tough.  We hit the wall a couple times, and I hit Greg Biffle as he wrecked. 
   "It was an eventful night.  We never gave up.
   "I guess if we're going to win, we have to make it dramatic.  This is the way my whole career has been.  We always seem to get there in the nick of time."
   Drivers were bubbling with enthusiasm, and Harvick said that was because they haven't done much really since November at Homestead.
   "Everybody is excited to be at the track, to smell the fumes, drive laps," Harvick said.
  "It's like everybody got a wake-up call: 'Hey, we need to get our stuff together.'"
   Without testing, "it's like taking your favorite toy away, it's almost like you got grounded for a few months…and now you get to come out and have fun with it again.
   "Everybody was just really jacked up and wanted to race. Everybody wanted to race really bad.  Everybody was throwing caution to the wind."
   And what about that Friday night engine problem in teammate Jeff Burton's car?
   Team owner Richard Childress said it was a crankshaft issue: "We had a crankshaft we had done some work with just to run in this race. 
    "I think we had a little too low oil pressure.
    "It's something that was a little different than we'll be running in the 500.  So this was a good place to bring it, to try it."



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