CHEVY NSCS AT SONOMA: Kevin Harvick Press Conf. Transcript



American Muscle


JUNE 24, 2011

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM TANKLESS CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Infineon Raceway and discussed road course racing, next week’s Daytona race and other topics.  Full transcript:

ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS WEEKEND?:  “its fun to come close to home anyway.  It’s always fun to see all the fans and your friends and family and people that come to the race track.  It’s a race track that I’ve been fortunate to race on a lot and seen it go through a lot of different changes through the years, but always enjoy coming back.”

HOW GOOD IS YOUR TEAM RIGHT NOW?:  “I think as you look at just the 29 team – I’m just going to speak for that particular team, I think for me it’s fun to be a part of because I’ve never been a part of something where the chemistry is so good.  You can change things around, you can swap teams and obviously Gil’s (Martin, crew chief) been a part of my team before and the chemistry still wasn’t what it is today.  Gil does a great job with the guys and this group of guys has been together for a long time.  I think that helps.  The biggest thing is that it’s a good group of racers.  When you get a group of racers together, they don’t take offense to things that you say or something that you do wrong because they’re all going to do something wrong or say something wrong at a particular point too.  The chemistry of this team is great.  Obviously, you always want to get faster cars and you always want the performance to be better, but I feel like when you have a team like this, even when you’re off, you can still salvage something decent out of a day and I think that’s what it takes to be competitive for a championship.”

DOES THIS RACE TRACK CREATE A CRAZIER RACE?:  “It’s always pretty physical.  I think when you look back at the years past, it may not seem as physical as it has been, but I think there are very limited places to pass and so when you see somebody that’s vulnerable, you have to take advantage of it and when you get taken advantage of, you obviously want to minimize it as much as you can.  As long as the fenders aren’t rubbing the tires here, you can usually still make good lap times.  Road courses have become very physical races and the cars look more like they should have been at Martinsville than probably anywhere else.  It’s a fun race and it has become very physical over the last three or four years.  I think that’s more of a tribute to this particular car because you can be more aggressive with it and not get yourself in trouble with fenders dragging tires and things.”

HOW FAR BACK CAN YOU GO AT THIS RACE TRACK AND STILL COME BACK TO WIN?:  “We didn’t qualify well last year and it seems like our most successful weekends are the weekends that we don’t qualify well.  It just depends on how the day goes.  This particular race has become more of – it could be strategy, but the tires have become more important than it seems like strategy.  Do you go for fuel mileage – I think Robby (Gordon) finished second last year and he was on fuel mileage strategy.  The 48 (Jimmie Johnson) was on tire strategy, we were on tire strategy so it all just kind of meets in the middle and I think as you go through the day you can make up a lot of ground by being on a different strategy than the others.  If you start in the back then you just do something different and if it falls your way that day, then it falls your way.  I have a feeling that tires are going to be pretty important.”

DO YOU THINK NASCAR NEEDS TO LOOK AT THE DOWN FORCE IN THE 2013 CARS AND HAS THE RACE OFF OF PIT ROAD BECOME TOO IMPORTANT?:  “I’ll answer your second question first.  The pit road stuff is very competitive and when you look and hear people talk about this being a team sport, it really is a team sport because the guys – everybody is important.  I don’t have to go through each position, but the guys on pit road are as important as any driver or any car or anything you can even put on the track because no matter how fast your car is, if you have a crappy pit crew and don’t get off pit road, you’ll never win a race.  The guys on pit road are as important as anything you can put in.  I don’t know if that’s too much emphasis put on one particular position or segment or part of the sport – I don’t know.  Definitely seeing the strategy come into effect.  How to make that different or is that wrong?  I don’t know.  I think that the one thing that is hard about our series is it has become so competitive and the cars run so close to the same speed that passing does become harder.  I can’t say that I disagree with him, but I always tend to go in a direction that if I don’t have an answer, I don’t complain about it and I don’t have an answer for that particular problem.  That would be a great question for those guys in the trailer.  They have all the answers.”

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BEST CHANGES AT INFINEON?:  “I think just when you stand up on the hills and look down at the race track, I think as fan you can see a lot more of the race track.  You can see a lot of the improvements to the surface.  It seems like every year we come back there’s more improvements.  I still wish we ran the carousel.  I don’t think that was one of the better improvements.  I think that was more fun and seemed like it created – I know we try to create more passing zones, but I don’t think the way it was done necessarily did that.  I think I’ve been through two different eras of the race track, but every time you come back there is just something better and they do a really good job of just making the facility nice and everything here has been redone I think since I started.  We might use the same tires in what I call turn 11 down there, but not much else is the same as it used to be.”

DID YOU ROAD COURSE TEST PRIOR TO THIS RACE?:  “We did not.  The reason being is that a lot of times you go to VIR (Virginia International Raceway), which is close for us.  Some guys go to Road America and for us, I just felt like when we came here last year we weren’t really where we needed to be with the things that we did at the test, the way that the car travels with the elevation changes and there’s just a lot of differences with the surfaces and things like that.  We didn’t do any testing.  Finally we just ended it.  I think a lot of guys just want to go and get in a rhythm, but after you’ve been to these places eight, nine, 10 times – you pretty much know what you need to do and it’s not like when we used to come here and everybody was always trying to come up with new transmission ratios and things to get better.  Now, you’re kind of in a box and I’d rather see my guys fresh and the cars prepared right in the shop instead of taking them out of the shop for a day or two and really having to go to the race track and be miserable by the time you get to the end of the week.  Whatever week it is, it just makes for a long week for those guys and I would rather just have them fresh and do the things we know we need to do for this particular race track.”

IS IT A BADGE OF HONOR TO WIN A ROAD COURSE?:  “Yeah and I think when we won Watkins Glen in ’06 – it feels like it makes you a more well-rounded driver when you finally get to put a road course win or trophy in the trophy case.  This place has been, or for us it’s been rather elusive just for the fact that we’ve finished second, we’ve finished third and we’ve won a couple Southwest Tour Series races here and Winston West races back in the day and so for me, it’s kind of like California Speedway was – are we ever going to be able to knock the barrier down here and get to victory lane?  As a driver, you want to be well-rounded and win on all different types of race tracks for sure.”

WHY DO DRIVERS LOVE OR HATE ROAD COURSES?:  “I would say from when I started in this series to where we are now with the drivers in the garage, it’s probably a much less of a percentage than what it used to be as far as guys that don’t like it.  I think the reason that most people are okay with it now is because everybody knows how to build the cars now and they know how to make them drive right.  They know how to make them stop.  When I first started in the Cup series, it was still a wide range of vehicles that showed up to the race track as far as how they were prepared.  If you go back even further before my time, I imagine that was even wider and there as only a handful of guys that were competitive just because their cars weren’t competitive and prepared right.  I would say that everybody likes the change in pace of coming to the road courses.  I still am a firm believer that if you’re going to be the champion, there should be a road course in the championship Chase.  If you’re going to be the best on that particular year, you need to be the best at all the different styles of race tracks.”

HOW DO YOU HAVE TO APPROACH DAYTONA WITH THE TWO-CAR DRAFTING?:  “I think as a team we have a set strategy that we’re going to go into that race with this week and see how it works.  Whether that’s right or wrong, I don’t know.  We’ve talked about it for a couple weeks now and have a good plan.”

DO YOU LIKE THE RACING AT DAYTONA NOW?:  “The racing would be the same way that it is now if the race tracks – the worst thing in the world that happens to this sport is repaving race tracks.  That is the absolute worst thing you can do to make the racing bad is to pave a race track.  You look at some of the race tracks that have been paved for five or six years now and I don’t know if it’s the type of asphalt or whatever they’re doing, but the racing isn’t the same that it was and the race tracks just don’t get bad.  Basically, if Daytona and Talladega would have been paved like they are now, however many years ago and everybody would have figured out how to do – that car would have done what we do now, it’s just that there’s enough grip on the race track with the way that the asphalt is to allow you to do that.  There’s really no way to fix it as far as I’m concerned.  Unless you just say, go back to the no bump drafting in the corners.  That’s the only way you can really fix it until the grip goes away.  Paving the race tracks are a killer for the racing.”

WHERE DO YOU TRY TO PASS AT INFINEON AND IS QUALIFYING THE KEY?:  “Qualifying doesn’t hurt, but it’s definitely not the end all as to whether you can win or not.  I think going into turn 11 here or going into turn seven – I don’t even know how they number them now.  That’s how they used to number them.  Seven would be going into the esses back there and 11 would probably be the prime two spots to pass unless somebody just makes an absolute mistake.”

HOW MANY CARS ARE YOU RUNNING THIS WEEK?:  “We’re running four.  Are you talking at Daytona or this week?  Next week we will have four cars at Daytona.  Myself, (Tony) Stewart, (Clint) Bowyer and (Elliott) Sadler.  I think she (Delana Harvick) just forgot.  She knew that was how it was, but I think she just forgot.  That goes back to the style of racing and that’s really why you have to have an even number of cars.”

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