CHEVY NSCS AT CHARLOTTE ONE: Kevin Harvick Press Conference Transcript



American Muscle


MAY 26, 2011

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER/ARMED FORCES CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed getting ready for Sunday’s race, his satisfaction with Elliott Sadler in the nationwide Series, the Kansas race coming up and much more. Full transcript.

YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT GETTING GEARED UP FOR THE BIG RACE SUNDAY AFTERNOON. “As we ran the All-Star race last week I think we figured out that we were way off where we needed to be in the beginning of the race and toward the end of the race I was fairly happy with the car so we made some big adjustments, obviously didn’t run as well as we wanted to to compete for the win but I think we got the car somewhat situated as the night was over. So that was the positive that came out of it. It’s cool to have a sponsor that supports the armed forces especially on Memorial Day weekend like Budweiser does. So it’s going to be a good weekend for us.”

YOU SAID LAST WEEK THIS IS A TRACK THAT YOU STRUGGLE AT, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GUYS KNOW WHAT YOU STRUGGLED WITH OR DO YOU FEEL MORE OPTIMISTIC THIS WEEK? “You know I feel better about where our car is as to where we start but still not a race track that any of us have been, I shouldn’t say that, not a race track that we’ve been stellar at over the 10 years I’ve been in the car. I know (Jeff) Burton has had some success here. Clint (Bowyer) has run well here at times but we all fought pretty much the same things last week. They didn’t really find anything to make their car better. I felt like we made our car a tremendous amount better toward the end of the night. We’ll see what happens today. It’s so hard to really tell where you are at in practice because the practices are kind of a waste of time with the heat of the day and then rolling into the night. Really the only thing we can go off of is the first part of the race for Sunday with the timing of the practices and things. We just have to go off of last week that’s why being a part of the All-Star weekend is pretty important. Especially when you don’t feel like you are as competitive as you need to be.”

GIL (MARTIN< CREW CHIEF) WAS SAYING HE WAS PRETTY CONFIDENT ABOUT YOU DOING WELL HERE BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN SOME OTHER TRACKS RECENTLY WHERE YOU HAVEN’T DONE WELL AND YOU GUYS KIND OF TURNED AROUND, WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS AND WHY DO YOU THINK YOU CAN TURN AROUND HERE? “Well we’ve won at a lot of places we haven’t won at lately and I think as you look through even last year we did the same thing. There’s really not a given weekend that we go to that I don’t feel like we can show up and turn it all around and win the race. For me that’s a confidence boost in knowing where we ended last week and where we can start this week is a good confidence boost. But still until you do it you’ve got to figure some different things out and do some things differently than what you have. We came here a lot different than we’ve ever come here before and we had to change a lot of things around just to get it so it would be somewhat to my liking. I’m with him, we could have gone home and done the work on the simulation programs and tires pressures and springs and shocks and all the things that come with it and could go out and just wear them out. That’s a good thing about where we are as a team right now.”

KHI IS OBVIOUSLY DOING WELL IN TRUCKS AND NATIONWIDE, HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE MAKING PROGRESS AND DO YOU ULTIMATELY FEEL YOU CAN GET TO CUP IN THE YEAR OR TWO IF YOU GET THE RIGHT SPONSORSHIP? “We don’t have any plans to go to Cup. I’ve said it many times, I think it would have to be 100 percent of a perfect scenario. The way that we work with RCR right now is basically like we have everything tied together and everybody is working well together so we don’t have any intensions of doing that.”

GOING BACK A COUPLE OF RACES IT SEEMS LIKE TRACK POSITION IS GETTING MORE AND MORE CRITICAL TOWARD THE END OF RACES, DO YOU THINK WE WILL SEE MORE OF THAT SUNDAY NIGHT AND ARE THE CARS GETTING TO BE MORE AERO SENSITIVE? “I think a lot of that comes with what particular tire is on the race car. The race cars don’t change. There is nothing wrong with the tire, the tire was fast and it was durable and feels comfortable as a driver but usually when they have the pace like they have it becomes harder to pass. I think you didn’t see many people running at the top of the race track like you used to because the bottom just stayed fast. When you have less options it becomes harder to pass and the cars become more sensitive because everybody is in the same spot. It just didn’t seem like the grooves have changed and widened out. Dover widened out a little bit but it didn’t widen out like it did last year. It was way up the race track and this race track has always been way up the top. That could change today and on this particular week and that wouldn’t be the first time that has happened. I think a lot of where the race tracks go depends on the tire. I don’t know why and there’s nothing wrong it just depends on a lot of that.”

IN REGARDS TO KYLE BUSCH’S TRAFFIC INCIDENT EARLIER THIS WEEK, DO SOMETIMES RACE CAR DRIVERS GET IN FAST CARS AND DO SILLY THINGS, OR IS THAT OVER THE LINE OR MAYBE TOO MUCH? “I think some people are their own worst enemy when it comes to being responsible as a person or as a business person or anything that comes with life’s responsibilities. For me, they won’t even let me drive down the highway because I drive five miles per hour over the speed limit and it tends to take us a lot longer to get to places. Since I’ve been about 16 or 17 years old, I haven’t been into really driving fast down the highway or anything reckless on the road. It’s not really the place to do that. I don’t really know how to answer that to be honest with you because I’ve never driven a vehicle 120 plus down the highway. It could put a lot of people in a bad situation and I think Newton’s article probably touched the outcomes of how things could work this week.”

YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT TRYING DIFFERENT STUFF LATELY, EXPERIMENTING A LITTLE BIT, WHEN DO YOU AND GIL SORT OF STOP EXPERIEMENTING OR TUNING THAT DOWN A BIT TO DECIDE ON WHAT KIND OF CHASSIS PACKAGE AND AERO PACKAGES YOU ARE GOING TO RUN IN THE CHASE? “I was really happy with the car at Dover and Darlington. Obviously we’ve got a little bit of work to do here but I think we’ve pretty much settled in on the types of stuff that we want to keep developing for certain types of race tracks. Richmond was a failure for us so we know what we need to do there so we just keep eliminating them. As we go through the weeks we go to different types of race tracks and we know if we want to try the new stuff, we probably have experienced that type of race track. We pretty much have got it narrowed down to what needs to be in the car, where and we just need to develop those packages for those particular types of race tracks.”

WITH THE AGE OF INSTANT GRATIFICATION THAT PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR, DO YOU THINK ITS STILL NECESSARY TO HAVE A 600 MILES RACE LIKE THIS WEEKEND? “I touched on this briefly last week. I think this is a historic race in our sport. I think there needs to be less long races and I think the trend that you’ve seen with some of the races going to 400 miles, I think the race tracks and NASCAR have been working on doing that. This is the ultimate test of car, team, driver, engines, every part on the car. The sport is not all about just running a 250-mile race, it’s about making your car last and making the cars last so people can develop parts and things to put on street cars, to put on shelves for aftermarket racing programs that sell parts. It’s more than just having a fast car and lining them up and running a short race. It’s really about the attrition of the whole night and surviving that. As things change through the night you have to keep up with the race track and if your car won’t run then you’re done. The sport needs long races because this is the types of things it was built on with the longer races and keeping your car from breaking down so it’s really more than just lining them up and seeing who is the fastest.”

TALK ABOUT KANSAS AS FAR AS THEM HAVING TWO RACES AND WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM KANSAS? “You never really know until you get to a particular area. Sometimes you look at two races – the old saying don’t make two mediocres out of one good, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think California is a good example of that. With the people that they have around them that support the crowds, they’re probably a one-race track. Kansas has always been sold out and had a great atmosphere and had a great attendance. If both races are still sold out then it’s a success. If it’s not then you need to go to Iowa.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SPECIAL PAINT SCHEME YOU ARE RUNNING THIS WEEKEND? “Well obviously Budweiser is a huge supporter of everybody in the armed forces and all the things that come with that. To have the flat black, bad ass, jet fighter looking car this weekend on Memorial Day weekend just goes to show you the support that they put throughout all their programs. Whether it’s hitting a homerun or putting a car on the race track they are here to support our troops with everything that they can. So it’s fun to have a sponsor that’s involved with military support and Budweiser is right there at the top. So it’s fun to be a part of the program.”

ARE YOU PLEASED WITH WHERE ELIOTT (SADLER) IS WITH THE PROGRAM THIS YEAR AND IS IT WORKING OUT THE WAY YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD? “Well the first three weeks it didn’t work out the way I thought it would but I think as they settled in, it’s by far the most experienced team we’ve ever had as a company, and to put his experience in there with them it has all kind of meshed together and we’ve had to make some adjustments along the way. For Elliott I think the biggest adjustment he’s had to make is just to get comfortable racing in the top five every week. That’s just something he hasn’t got to do over the last several years but it’s something he’s been accustomed to through his Cup career, winning races, you don’t necessarily forget how to do that but you forget how many small things come with that to be able to compete on a week-to-week basis. They’ve got the top five stuff down, now the next step is when you are running in the top five the next step is to take it to the next level and start winning some races. I think they are at that stage of needing to take that next step but it’s been a great process to see it evolve and I’m very happy with what the team has done and with what Elliott has done. He fits right in. Really Elliott, Paul and Clint have taken a lot of pressure off of me of having to develop the cars and drive the cars and do everything that comes with it. It’s given me a chance to kind of sit back and relax and not have to do as much as I had to before to help carry it to be competitive. We have guys in there that can give enough information to help keep it competitive with the information they are giving back.”

WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF HOW TREVOR BAYNE HAS HANDLED THIS SITUATION HE IS GOING THROUGH? “I think Trevor is obviously a special person. He doesn’t get rattled by too much. He’s a good kid and it’s hard to believe when you hear him talk and hear the enthusiasm and hear everything that comes along with him it’s hard to believe that he is 20 years old. Trevor is just a good person. Obviously he can drive the race car and when you listen to him talk he just bleeds enthusiasm. I’ll talk from a team owner’s side, when you have that guy driving your car it just spreads to everybody on your team and I think you can hear the confidence in the Wood’s and everything that they believe in him. He’s a fun person to be around. It’s unfortunate, and it’s the same old question you ask, why does that stuff happen to a guy like that, why can’t it happen to somebody else but he handles it well and he’s going to be around for a long time. It’s fun to see that enthusiasm.

KANSAS RACE IS NOW GOING TO BE IN JUNE, DO YOU HAVE TO THROW OUT ALL THE NOTES AND START OVER? “No, you don’t have to throw out all the notes. You will have somewhere to start. It really depends on what tire they bring as to what direction to go with your car. So you adjust to that and the tires are constant evolution. Goodyear trying to make things better and trying to make more technology and do things so you have to keep up with that side of it. The cars evolve constantly from an aerodynamic standpoint. The weather will probably be warmer so things will definitely change a little bit but it won’t be an overhaul.”

CAN YOU PUT IN PERSPECTIVE WHAT IT HAS MEANT TO HAVE 400 TRUCK RACES AND HOW YOU SEE THE FUTURE? “When I was a kid I watched some of the first exhibition races and the Truck Series is the reason I am where I am today. We support our truck program mainly for Ron Hornaday to keep him busy and keep him part of the series. That’s the biggest reason we do it. We want to win races and we want to be competitive but Ron is the biggest reason. I hope you guys have fun I’ll be in Chicago racing the Nationwide car.”

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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