OXFORD – Sprint Cup series driver Kevin Harvick has won at two of the most prestigious tracks in the Cup series.
He won at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2003 and he captured the Daytona 500 in 2007.
But taking the checkered flag at the 35th annual TD Banknorth Oxford 250 Monday night is also a significant achievement in Harvick’ s eyes.
“This is a big deal,” said Harvick after holding off Turner’ s Glen Luce to become the third consecutive driver to win the race in his first-ever Oxford 250 start.
“When you look back at the record books of this race you see Harry Gant, you see Jeff Gordon. You see a lot of the short track racers & Junior Hanley & a lot of the guys that made short track racing what it is. Chuck Bown & I could sit here and go on and on about the guys who ran when it was the North-South competition, when it was Busch racing. It was a lot of fun to see those guys race back and forth,” said Harvick.
One of those racers who tried his luck at Oxford was Harvick’ s late father-in-law, John Paul Linville, who raced on the Busch series until 1995.
“He raced a long time and came up here several times and never made the race. That was one of the reasons we came up here & some of the great stories they had as a family traveling up and down the coast and coming up here to race,” said Harvick. “There are a lot of good things, a lot of good reasons to come up. The people up here have been just awesome.
“The competitors and all the crew members in the garage have been just a blast to hang out with. We’ ve had a lot of time to hang out this week with the rain,” said the Bakersfield, Calif., native.
Harvick said his decision to enter the race was also influenced by his relationship with former long-time Nationwide series crew chief Shane Wilson.
Wilson and Harvick teamed up for a Nationwide Series points championship in 2006.
“Shane’ s from [South Royalton] Vermont and has been up here before and [his team] didn’ t run very well. We had a few too many beers at the house one night and it was his idea to come up here. We were looking for a race to do [on Sprint Cup’ s off weekend]. Shane wanted to come up here and win,” said Harvick. “Shane and I have won 17-18 races together and this was our first time back together since 2007. Shane and I are good friends and our wives our good friends. It makes it a lot of fun.”
He said Wilson spent a lot of time putting the car together after Port City Chassis (Mich.) did all the work on the chassis.
“Shane built a shop at his house just for this car,” said Harvick whose primary sponsor was Quirk Auto Dealerships.
He said Albany Township driver Ricky Rolfe and his crew “got us in the ballpark” as far as tire pressure, springs and shocks were concerned.
And he said he received valuable practice time on the track on Friday “so we could see what we needed.
“We didn’ t have a clue what we were getting in to until we got here. We were close [on the setup] but we weren’ t where we needed to be. But we worked hard at it and had a lot of fun with it,” said Harvick, who started 11th and became the first Cup winner to capture the 250.
He wasn’ t that concerned about doing homework on his potential rivals.
“When you come to a race like this, the guys who aren’ t [good] racers usually take care of themselves. Most of the guys in this situation, when you have this many good cars, are good race car drivers. I only had one real problem [with Denmark’ s Carey Martin], I tore up my right front fender. But that guy took care of himself [finishing 25th],” said Harvick. “I was racing side-by-side with guys all night, passing and doing all kinds of fun stuff.”
He earned $37,300 for his win but said the money was secondary.
“The only thing that matters is this six-foot trophy. They can have the check if they want it back,” said Harvick who intends to eventually return for another 250 but will try another race during the off-weekend next year.
Luce and third-place finisher Joey Polewarczyk Jr. of Hudson, N.H., enjoyed racing Harvick.
“I watch him race on TV. And now I’ ve been able to race him. It’ s awesome. It’ s really cool,” said the 19-year-old Polewarczyk.