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NASCAR: Harvick aims to end drought

Los Angeles Times
SONOMA, Calif. ó Kevin Harvick enjoys racing at Infineon Raceway here because it offers the chance to see family and friends in his hometown of Bakersfield.
But there’s another opportunity the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver hopes to exploit in today’s Toyota/Save Mart 350: Ending the worst dry spell of his nine-year Cup career.Harvick, who drives for Richard Childress Racing, has gone 86 points races without a victory since his Daytona 500 win in 2007, when he nipped Mark Martin in a photo finish.
Harvick has only two top-10 finishes in the No. 29 Chevrolet through the season’s first 15 races, and he’s 23rd in the Cup point standings.
That makes him a long shot to qualify for NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup, in which the top dozen drivers in points after 26 races compete for the championship in the season’s final 10 races. Harvick finished fourth in last year’s Chase.
The entire four-car Childress team is struggling this season to stay competitive with the top teams of Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing.
Harvick teammate Jeff Burton is 12th in points, Clint Bowyer is 16th and Casey Mears, another Bakersfield native, is 21st.
And to hear Harvick and other team members tell it, no quick fix is on the horizon.
“Wouldn’t you be frustrated?” Harvick said. “You go from being competitive and being in the Chase every year to not being able to get out of your own way.”
In addition, Harvick and his wife DeLana ó who own a team that competes in NASCAR’s second-level Nationwide and Camping World Truck series ó recently learned they were among the NASCAR teams losing financial support from General Motors, which is in bankruptcy reorganization.
Harvick, 33, starts 16th Sunday on the 10-turn, 1.99-mile Infineon road course, where he has a mixed record. Although he finished second in 2007, that was his only top-10 finish here in the last five years.
“This is a race that you feel like you should be in the top five,” he said. “Our road-race test went as good as it’s ever gone in the past.”
But then it’s back to NASCAR’s conventional oval tracks, where Harvick has led only a paltry nine laps this year.
The problems were evident early in the season, and team owner Richard Childress swapped the Harvick and Mears crews in April in hopes of turning things around. It’s had little effect.

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