NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
JULY 29, 2011
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET, met with media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed winning the Brickyard 400, closeness of the competition in NSCS, drivers of past eras, the Nationwide race moving to the Brickyard and other topics. Full transcript:
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Kevin.
Q. (Question regarding the Showdown.)
KEVIN HARVICK: Both things were exciting. To win the Brickyard was great for us. We always seem to run well here. Fun racetrack to come to. A lot of history. Everybody looks forward to coming here.
To add the Sprint Showdown with $3 million on the line adds to the excitement of the week as well. Looking forward to it. Can’t wait to get practice started.
Q. Talk about how difficult a track it is.
KEVIN HARVICK: It’s an historic place, but it’s fun to drive by yourself. It’s very hard to pass with the long straightaways. You got to have everything going for you. But the most important thing in the end is probably going to be track position just because, you know, the way that everything is nowadays.
So it’s no different than it is with the IndyCars or anything else that races here. It’s just the nature of this particular track.
Q. (Question regarding parity.)
KEVIN HARVICK: Just the cars are so close, it becomes hard to pass. So anything you can do to take some strategy and try to turn that into track position is the easiest way to pass somebody. To try to maintain that is your goal. It’s just part of the sport.
Q. (Question regarding drivers of the past.)
KEVIN HARVICK: I think when you look at how many teams are competitive, everybody talks about how great the racing was back then. The biggest difference is you had a huge difference in speed of cars. You had four or five cars that were competitive to win the race. Sometimes there would only be two or three cars on the lead lap.
Just different eras of how competitive the sport is. With the cars, sometimes you’ll go to some races, the cars will be less than a half a second apart. When they run that close to the same speed, you have to have some things happen to get by a guy that’s only a couple 10ths slower than you.
Very competitive, a lot of people winning races. That’s probably going to continue through the end of the year.
Q. Looking ahead to Pocono. More passing zones there than most tracks you go to?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, the racetrack creates that with the bumps and the asphalt being wore out. It’s a fun racetrack to drive because you have options. With the racetrack being in the shape that it is, there’s a lot of opportunities to make a lot of mistakes with your car sliding, bouncing, the tires falling off, everything that happens.
I think from a driver’s perspective, that’s a good thing because you have an opportunity to make your car handle better and have those options to pass people.
Q. What will you do different this time?
KEVIN HARVICK: I don’t even remember what happened in June. I think we finished fifth. I think we need to start there. I’m sure it will be a little bit warmer. Work our way from there.
Q. Has this place developed in your mind a specialness? Is it more special than any other place that you go?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, it is. It’s a special place. They’ve had racing here for a hundred years. Anyplace that has had that long of a history and rich in the things that have happened at this particular racetrack, you know, it’s our second biggest race. To come here this time of the year with ESPN kicking off their portion of the season, having the off week, there’s a lot of enthusiasm. You can feel that in the garage.
Q. (Question regarding the heat.)
KEVIN HARVICK: You know it’s going to be hot when you come here. That’s going to be a given.
Q. (Question regarding Pocono.)
KEVIN HARVICK: We’ve run well there the last several times, last couple years. I think as we move forward, we just have to keep doing the things that we’re doing, not try to reinvent the wheel, put yourself in position at the end of the race. Honestly, I don’t remember a lot. I know that we ran well. We just have to keep doing that.
KEVIN HARVICK: Obviously Todd has been there for 18 years. We started our Nationwide program together. He came up as I was coming up, was my crew chief on the Nationwide side. So, yeah, I mean, unfortunately tough decisions like that have to be made. Those things happen.
Q. You’ve had to make those in the past.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, and it’s just part of it, I guess, unfortunately.
Q. A Watkins Glen question. As far as the differences in the two tracks, it’s obvious. You run better at Watkins Glen? Do you like it better than Sonoma?
KEVIN HARVICK: It’s just different. I mean, the fact that it’s just a lot higher speed. Sonoma is a lot more technical, a lot slower speed. Watkins Glen is high speed, run over all the curbs.
I enjoy them both. I enjoy all the road races that we have. I think we need more of them. It’s one of those things that I enjoy getting able to do a couple times a year.
Q. What is the good and bad and ugly about Watkins Glen?
KEVIN HARVICK: Restarts are the ugly usually at that particular track. The road courses seem to have become really rough. They’ve probably become the most exciting races we go to on the circuit.
The good is it’s usually a whole lot cooler up in that part of the country this time of year.
Q. Do you expect the same slamming and banging as Sonoma?
KEVIN HARVICK: Probably. But probably not quite as much because the fenders do mean something there because of the high-speed stuff.
Q. (Question regarding parity and rules.)
KEVIN HARVICK: I’m sure it would be more fun, but it would be really expensive. If we can take some of NASCAR’s money and put it into all the teams, we’d all go for it.
Q. You would enjoy that?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, absolutely. Have at it. That would be fun.
Q. Are you doing a lot of Chase experimentation right now?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think we’ve kind of raced out of character, to tell you the truth, the last probably six weeks just for the fact we’re in the position that we’re in. We got to get back getting into the consistency, not taking as many chances trying to catch a caution, pitting early, whatever the case may be. I think our cars have run well.
We just got to do some different things that we have gotten a little out of character of doing.
Q. What do you think of Nationwide being here next year?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think as you look at the history, I call it ORP, I don’t know what the new name of it is, we’ll call it ORP for namesake, obviously it’s been a big part of the series for a long time.
From an ownership standpoint and the fact of selling sponsorship, bringing the cars here has kind of lit the switch on what’s going to happen this weekend. Guys that want to drive, sponsors, things like that.
You hate to see the history side of it go, but it brings a little more excitement to things going on on that particular weekend for that series.
Q. How attractive is that to a sponsor? How eager are guys going to want to be to get in your car?
KEVIN HARVICK: It’s going to be like it is in Cup, the second biggest race of the year. There’s a lot of guys that enjoy this particular racetrack. I think with the series on that particular weekend, there’s not really much Cup interest at the small track, so I think you’re going to see a lot of the Cup drivers interested in being a part of that race.
Q. (Question regarding qualifying at Indy.)
KEVIN HARVICK: Definitely. I think, you know, as you look at the starting time for qualifying, it’s definitely going to make things probably pretty even. I don’t think it’s going to really matter where you go in the qualifying order unless you get a brief rain shower or something and it extends way into the early evening.
But I think it’s been needed for a long time. I don’t know why it took, you know, this long to do that. But I think it’s a great move.
Q. With the Summer Shootout beginning this weekend, does it give you something else to play around with?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think anytime you put $3 million on the line, it’s added incentive to make something happen. These are good racetracks for us. I think the only one in the Shootout we haven’t won at is Pocono. We’re looking forward to this next stretch, not only for the Summer Shootout, but to get back in the rhythm of what we need to be doing as far as how we need to race in the Chase.
All in all, it’s fun to be a part of the sport right now. You come to your second biggest race of the year. You have the Summer Shootout on the line with all the money, an off week at that. It feels like it’s almost the first week again. A lot of enthusiasm.
Q. Is it something you guys have discussed as a team? Do you think you might take a chance where maybe you hadn’t before?
KEVIN HARVICK: We’ve definitely talked about it. I hasn’t been a huge topic of conversation because you’re not going to do anything different, a lot different, than you normally would. We go every week trying to win the race. You’ll definitely do what you have to do for three million bucks.
Q. (Question regarding the heat.)
KEVIN HARVICK: It’s definitely hot. As the weekend goes, I think it’s going to cool a little bit. I think the way it’s been throughout this part of the summer, throughout pretty much every weekend we’ve been somewhere, you just deal with it and you do the best you can. I know my guys do a good job of insulating the cars. Right now everything’s going to be okay.
Q. What does it take to have success here?
KEVIN HARVICK: You have to have everything. You have to have the engine program, the car. Everything has to be running through the middle of the corner good so you can get down those long straightaways. The pit strategy is key as to where you place yourself for that last run.
You can put yourself in a really bad spot or a really good spot and give yourself a chance to win. So track position is really important.
Q. What is the biggest thing you get out of racing here in Indianapolis?
KEVIN HARVICK: I grew up in Bakersfield, California. The Mears family was there. I grew up a huge Rick Mears fan. This is what I wanted to do. Winning the Brickyard in ’03 was one of the coolest moments in my career. As we move forward, that will always be that way.
It’s kind of fulfilling a childhood dream.
Q. What is your reaction to moving the Nationwide race?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think obviously ORP has been a huge part of the series for a long time. You hate to see that history part of it go. The enthusiasm and excitement that has been added for the Nationwide Series for this particular weekend is already high.
I think it’s going to be good for the series, a lot of people are looking forward to it.
Q. When you look back at the last two races, you’ve not have stellar finishes. How do you look back on those?
KEVIN HARVICK: No, I think performance-wise we’ve been fine. We’ve kind of gotten out of character as to the way we’ve taken chances on pit calls, things like that, wound up on the other side of it. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing this time of year, is just going for wins. We probably could have finished sixth, seventh, eighth, somewhere in there. Pretty much you’re sticking to everybody else’s strategy. But we tried to do something different, and it kind of bit us the last couple weeks.
KEVIN HARVICK: I think so. I think so. I don’t see why not. There’s really no reason not to. Try to get some more wins. Obviously they look like they’re hard to come by this year with so many people winning. I don’t see us changing that. I think we need to work our way back towards how we’re going to have to race in the Chase.
It’s just one of those deals where you have to balance the negatives and positives on that particular day.
Q. Is there any concern that once the Chase starts you have to go back to what you were doing before?
KEVIN HARVICK: You can’t race like we’ve been racing during the Chase. There’s no way you can put yourself in that position unless you’re just way behind.
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