Bakersfield boy Kevin Harvick started the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign by winning the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.
He started 27th in the 28-car field and had to race 78 laps of a scheduled 75-lapper to win the race. Even though the Shootout is not a points race, it did wonders for Harvick's confidence.
He was asked after race if he has what it takes to be the anti-Jimmie Johnson. Not sure what that exactly means, but it boils down to whether Harvick can challenge Johnson, winner of the past three Cup championships.
"I think 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, we ran in the top 10, top five every week. 2006 we won a ton of races. 2003 we were consistent. Just kind of fell behind in the beginning.
"We've got all the ingredients. We've made a couple small changes to the teams. We added a 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. We have good chemistry. I think we're all a lot calmer than we were five years ago and relaxed, really get along well with each other. So I think that means a lot."
Harvick said experience has made him a better drivers, definitely and more patient driver. He has a seasoned team and a veteran crew, all which will be valuable as the season unfolds.
"I think our experience carries us when we're having a bad day," Harvick said. "Like (Saturday), 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.
"I'm not going to sit up here and promise you can beat that 48 (Johnson) because they've been hard to beat the last three years. Right now we don't think anybody can beat us."