Hot off a win in only his second career start with Stewart Haas Racing last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, Kevin Harvick expressed happiness with a critical NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test yesterday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The test was designed to allow teams to experiment with the sanctioning body’s new requirements for 1.5-speedways, as well as to gather data.
“I thought it went really well,” said Harvick, who trails point leader Dale Earnhardt, Jr., by only 11 points after two races. “We struggled in the beginning, just to get the feel. It took us a couple of hours to kind of get everything situated and get the balance of the car right. We felt pretty good about it after that. (We) changed a lot of stuff and did a lot of different things to the car, and I felt like we made good head way in the end.
“Hopefully, we can progress on that tomorrow and make it even better.”
While not necessarily concerned with where he and his Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet team ranked on the speed charts, Harvick said he was happy with the way his car improved during the four-hour session.
“I think the best thing that happened today is the car didn’t run very fast at the beginning of the practice. We were three or four tenths off and had to kind of abort on what we were doing and go a different route. The next route was not as good, and the third route finally wound up being good.
“I think those are good things that are important for us. (They) give us direction when we go to other mile and a half race tracks, so we don’t have to do like we did today. We can get to what has been working for us and go straight from there… to make it even better. I thought that was probably the best thing that came out of today.
“It’s good for all of us to have to work at it and communicate and do things that you are going to have to do throughout the year to overcome things,” said Harvick of new crew chief Rodney Childers and his team. “I would rather have us struggle at the beginning of the day and have to work through things and communicate well with each other. Nobody got wound up and everybody gave the information. They are good at inputting all the information and trying different things.
“Today was a good example of that.”
Harvick said NASCAR’s new rules package has dramatically changed the way his car reacts to simple adjustments.
“We have a lot of things we can adjust on the cars this year,” he said. “There are some really sensitive spots, the jack screws and things are much more sensitive than they have been in the past. NASCAR has given us some different things that will help us make bigger swings at the car during the race that are very sensitive and still kind of fresh in the simulation. So it’s not 100-percent right as you go through some of the travels and different things.
“With the data (acquisition equipment) on the car today, you can get a better idea of where you are and hopefully go back (to the shop), zero in on all that and make it better as you go into the next few weeks.”