DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — After winning the first Gander RV Duel at Daytona International Speedway, Kevin Harvick anticipates a different race than the last two. The Clash and both Duels were seen as conservative events with single-file racing throughout the events.
“I don’t think you’re going to see a race like we’ve seen the last two races,” Harvick said following the Duel. “It’s just so much different when you get all the cars out there, you have the lines that have so much more momentum than what they’ve had, especially when you start putting stage points out there and things in the middle of the race.”
Harvick will be starting third in Sunday‘s DAYTONA 500. Getting to the lead will be the biggest challenge, but he will use his experience as an advantage.
“The biggest thing, that fluent routine of doing it over and over, looking in the mirror, being as comfortable and relaxed as you can with the wheel, being able to be comfortable and relaxed but also be able to look backwards,” Harvick said. “Leading probably looks easy on TV. You spend more time looking backwards than you do forwards. There’s definitely an art to it that you get more comfortable with as you go through doing it a lot more.”
As a former winner of the Great American Race, Harvick has seen the sport evolve in the past couple of seasons, including the strategy to win. Stage racing has implemented more aggression, with drivers fighting for points throughout the event.
“You can’t come from the back any more and drive your way up through there at the end of the race. You have to be fluent with your moves, precise. If you don’t, you lose a bunch of spots,” Harvick said.
All 40 drivers will be thinking about holding the Harley J. Earl trophy at the end of the race. The focus begins for Harvick as we inch closer to Sunday. Being one of the favorites can’t stop him from going through his game plan.
“If you’re going to win this race, you’re going to need to be good out front,” Harvick said. “You’re going to need to be able to guard, block, pay a lot of attention to who’s coming, who’s going, and the timing of it all. That’s why you have to race as hard as you can, in my opinion.”
Sunday is going to be about survival; there is no room for error. Harvick fully understands that is what it’s going to take to win the DAYTONA 500.
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