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The Hot Pass: More N'wide races for Harvick in '10

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Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for FOXSports.com. She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.

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MADISON, Ill.

Kevin Harvick said he's "all set" for next season — with his Nationwide program. Harvick, who has recently been rumored to be looking for an out with his NASCAR Sprint Cup ride at Richard Childress Racing, refused to talk of his Sprint Cup plans for 2010. "We're here to race Nationwide cars," Harvick said. As far as his own organization — Kevin Harvick Inc., which fields vehicles in both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series — is concerned, Harvick expects to increase his driver load next season in the No. 33 NNS car. And Harvick intends to remain under the Chevrolet banner. "It will pretty much be the same thing with myself in the majority of the races and a few less drivers, but the sponsorship is all done. "Obviously, everyone is working through the manufacturer stuff right now, but (Chevrolet has) been great to me through my career and we don't have any intentions as far as I know to change that." Harvick's short list for a second driver would be an up-and-comer such as Kelly Bires or Cale Gale. Harvick said he "really likes Bires if Bires would be interested in it." Being a Cup driver is an easier lure to secure sponsorship in the feeder series. But it's Harvick's hope to continue offering newcomers an opportunity to race. "For our Nationwide team, the Cup side having myself driving helps sell the sponsorship and that's kind of the backbone of what we do," Harvick said. "We've had (Tony) Stewart and (Ryan) Newman and a couple of other guys in the car this year so that's helped." Harvick entered last November short two sponsors for 10 to 11 races, but with the performance from the No. 33 Chevrolet this season he's been able to fill the void. Harvick admits that Chevrolet has continued its technical support in the wind tunnel and other areas it's "business as usual." However, when it comes to the construction of the new car for the Nationwide Series, Harvick the owner is concerned about the time frame since KHI has never built a car from scratch. There have been rumors that the first NNS Car of Tomorrow test will be at Talladega the Monday following the Cup race (Nov. 2). And Harvick doesn't plan on purchasing used cars for the test. "Right now we don't have anything ready, just a chassis," Harvick said. "We don't have templates for the cars yet. That's the part that I'm struggling with from a Nationwide team owner's standpoint. We're not a Cup team. We've never built a car so we don't have the process down. "We can build these cars in about seven or eight days from start to finish. But the first one is going to take three to four weeks to build so that pushes you right up against your Talladega test date." Although Harvick would not comment on his own Cup plans for 2010, one thing is for certain — he will not drive his own equipment at that level. While the possibility exists for KHI to one day graduate to a Cup operation if sponsorship ever became available, it won't be Harvick behind the wheel. "The foundation is set," Harvick said. "I don't have any interest in driving a Cup car for that situation if that were to happen. The foundation is laid if the perfect opportunity ever came along but I don't have any interest in driving it from that standpoint. "I have fun doing this. I enjoy the trucks. We've really been able to build on something. I was kind of at a stalemate as far as being enthused about driving a Nationwide car for Richard (Childress) and that's really why I did this. I felt like we had accomplished everything that we could accomplish on the Nationwide side. I wanted a new challenge and this is a great challenge. I enjoy this side of it and I get to do my real job on Sunday."

Busch on a roll

With Kyle Busch extending his points advantage to 212 over second-place Carl Edwards, pundits are wondering whether he can top the numbers that Kevin Harvick amassed on the way to his Nationwide Series title in 2006. On Saturday, Busch scored first career win at Gateway International Raceway and his sixth victory of the season, After 19 races in 2006, Harvick had extended his lead to 323 points. "Hopefully, this will keep the momentum rolling," Busch said. "We've had real strong Nationwide cars this year and this is just another one." Busch joked that he'd like to be in a similar position where he could wrap up the championship with four races remaining on the schedule — but doesn't feel that's a realistic goal. Busch's 27th career victory also tied him with Jeff Burton for fourth on the all-time win list in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He needs four victories to tie Sam Ard and six to pass Harvick. Mark Martin tops the all-time win list with 48 victories.

Tag teaming

Rusty Wallace's racers attempted to turn Saturday night's event into a demolition derby instead of a race. A loose condition with Scott Lagasse Jr.'s car caused the No. 11 Toyota to plow into Steve Wallace and sent the No. 66 Chevrolet into the spin cycle on Lap 85. That didn't sit well with Steve Wallace who then dogged Legasse until NASCAR called him off the rookie. But Wallace's rage didn't stop there. NASCAR penalized him a second lap for "an improper gesture" which was scored as "disobeying a NASCAR request. Apparently there's no specific punishment for giving a one-finger salute. Wallace salvaged a 24th-place finish. The fun and games didn't end for Legasse as Wallace's teammate Brendan Gaughan nailed the No. 11 car 16 laps later and ended his night. "That's just racing," Rusty Wallace, who was wearing his commentator's hat, said from the TV booth. Legasse, who finished 33rd, didn't agree. "It's very frustrating for these guys and for myself," said Legasse, who had been running in the top 10 prior to the first altercation with Wallace. "I had a great race car in the long runs — a little loose getting going. I just got run over. I hate it this early in the race." Gaughan lasted 20 more laps until taking out Ricky Stenhouse Jr. "They were racing very hard especially for it just being past half way," Stenhouse said, who was scored 30th. Gaughan finished 31st.

Harvick not too happy

Two-time Gateway victory Harvick led 105 laps before running out of gas with 29 laps remaining in the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 on Saturday night. Harvick initially lost three laps in the pits but regained a lap before the end and finished 17th.
Tagged: Kevin Harvick, Kelly Bires, Cale Gale

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