While it was Harvick's third win, it was the first win for the new Chevrolet SS race car.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, won his third career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited race in dominating fashion on Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.
Harvick’s victory gives Chevrolet its 20th win in 35 Sprint Unlimited races, more than any other manufacturer. Eight Team Chevy drivers started tonight’s event and six of those drivers had previously visited Victory Lane at least once in the Sprint Unlimited.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, started 14th and won segment number one, of the three-segment event. His Chevy SS was strong all night as he was able to come from the back to the front several times and finished fourth in the race.
Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, finished the non-points race seventh and eighth respectively. Their teammates Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Yellow Chevrolet SS, and Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS, were both involved in a multi-car incident on lap 15, in the first segment. Johnson was relegated to a 14th-place finish while Gordon was scored 17th out of the 19 cars that earned starting spots in the race.
Other Chevrolet competitors in the field were Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS, 10th), and Kurt Busch (No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS, 13th) who was also taken out of contention in the early on-track incident in the race.
The 55th running of the Daytona 500 will be the first point-paying race of the 2013 season and will take place on Sunday, February, 24th at Daytona International Speedway.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet SS
Gil Martin, Crew Chief
Richard Childress, Team Owner – Race Winner
KERRY THARP: Joining us for the winner of our sprint Unlimited at Daytona, Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing. He's joined by his crew chief Gil Martin. Kevin has won three of the last five Sprint Unlimited events here at Daytona and won back to back 2009, 2010. He joins Tony Stewart and Dale Jarrett as three-time winners of the event, Dale Earnhardt all-time winner of this event with six.
New racecar, winning like that in fine fashion, how does that set you up for the rest of this week?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is how are we going to get Danica and Ricky on the front page tomorrow (laughter)? I missed all you guys because you were all busy being TMZ the other day. Saw now you all have to talk to me and I can be a complete prick (laughter).
But, anyway, we knew that the racing was going to be different. We just didn't know because we hadn't run in a big pack. Honestly, we still haven't because the pack got narrowed down as we got the race started there.
The front bumpers, it's very small contact patch as far as how you can push and how you can't. When things don't line up correctly, you see what happens. You just got to be patient. Reminds me of how we raced 10, 11 years ago with that type of car and that type of package.
Anytime you're in Victory Lane here at Daytona, it's a great day.
KERRY THARP: Crew chief Gil Martin, congratulations. Looks like a strong team this year in the Sprint Cup Series. Talk about tonight's win and maybe just look ahead to the days ahead here at Daytona.
GIL MARTIN: It just shows that hard work pays off because these guys have worked long and hard, every team has, because of the things we've been up against.
Tonight I couldn't be prouder of the job Kevin did, our Chevrolet SS was strong. The guys on pit road did a great job, coming in third, taking the lead going out, that set Kevin up. Just looking forward for the rest of the week.
Thursday is going to be another good race for us, but I think we'll have enough time to get set up for Sunday and I think it's going to be really good for us.
KERRY THARP: Richard, congratulations again. Certainly Victory Lane here at Daytona is a very common place for you to visit. I know it's got to feel good right out of the gate winning this race.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, to win the first race with the Chevy SS was a big deal for us all. To win the Shootout like it was with the fans being involved, I thought that was really great. I'm really proud of all the efforts at RCR. Like I told Kevin before the race, You know how to do it. I don't have to tell you nothing.
He did it right there at the end of the race, helluva job. The pit crew, the whole team, couldn't be prouder of the whole organization.
Got a lot more to do. This is just the start of a long, long 10 days here. We're going to be after it the rest of the week.
KERRY THARP: Questions now for this winning team.
Q. Kevin, you know Danica was fastest in practice today.
KEVIN HARVICK: Didn't see her today, but she must not have won many poles and races in the past.
Q. Was the fact that there were 12 cars on track for most of the race limiting in how much you could learn about the drafting? Junior and Joey Logano said the bottom didn't get worked enough. I would definitely agree with that.
I think obviously 19 cars, you knew it was going to be a smaller race than normal anyway. But when you saw five, six, seven cars, whatever, got eliminated, you knew the moves, you were going to have to be pretty precise to make a good move.
Everybody figured out you could really side draft and slow down that bottom lane. The 20 definitely probably had the fastest car. He couldn't make it all the way by by himself through the corner and get on the straightaway because of the side draft.
The side draft is pretty big. We were able to run the top and kind of keep the bottom line at bay there because there weren't enough cars because everybody would stay up top except for three or four cars. Didn't have enough momentum.
The cars are going to be able to move, things are going to move and shift a lot easier.
Q. It seems in years after what appears to be a crisis at RCR, you come back stronger. Is there some kind of team marriage counseling you go through in the off-season? What did you do in the off-season to come out of the box looking this strong? We went and hired these psychiatrists to tell us what we need to do. Now we call them engineers (laughter).
No. I think with Eric and all the crew chiefs, the engineering staff, the amount of effort that Richard has poured in from a financial standpoint to a people standpoint, getting organized, there's a lot of effort making sure the cars are prepared better. Not that everybody wasn't working just as hard. There's a lot more structure and engineering that goes into these cars nowadays than what there used to be. He can tell you a lot more about that.
Today when we were struggling with our car, there's people with notebooks and iPads, computers. They're standing around talking about what everybody else has on their cars. It's pretty fun to see, see them all put everything together to try to fix a problem.
Q. Kevin, how did the cars react compared to what you expected? The long range forecast for the 500 calls for highs in the low 80s. How different do you think that's going to be from tonight? Low 80s will be exactly what we were expecting because there was zero handling issues tonight.
When we were here at the test, there were a lot of handling issues with the car sliding around. I think that will fit more of what we were expecting when we went home from the test. That will change the ballgame a lot if it's not 40 degrees outside.
Q. Kevin and Gil, everyone has heard the talk about lame duck drivers, their situation. I think you even referenced it on your radio when you won. Why will you guys be different?
KEVIN HARVICK: I don't think it's been that big of a deal. Kenseth did a great job with his situation. For us, from his side of it, his guys, our guys, they don't care. They just want to win.
For our side of it, it's our jobs to control the atmosphere and the things that go around. The atmosphere is great, honestly. Everybody is just working towards the same goal. That's winning the races. We have to be professional anyway, whether it's lame duck or not. You can call it whatever you want, we're going to have a helluva lot of fun racing, having a good time, doing our jobs.
That's what we're here to do. His job is to put cars on the racetrack. My job is to drive them. His job is to make sure they run as fast as they can. So as long as everybody does what they're supposed to do, we're all here to do a job and we have a responsibility to the people that are spending millions of dollars on the side of that car to do it as best we can.
GIL MARTIN: The same thing. This is too hard to be miserable. It's too hard of work not to come out and try to win. That's not in his nature. That's not in our team's nature to try not to win.
Anybody that thinks just because of what the situation is that anybody's going to lay down, they're sadly mistaken because we're going to try to win this championship. We're going to put forth the effort. I know Richard is doing it, everybody at the shop is doing it. We're going to do whatever it takes to win it. That's pretty well the bottom line.
KEVIN HARVICK: Pride also comes in there pretty good, too. It's fun to prove people wrong (smiling).
Q. Kevin, when you first came in, you said it was like 10, 11 years ago. Do you think it's going to be the big pack when 43 cars get out there? Is it correct that Keelan crawled for the first time today? He did crawl. DeLana was actually sitting outside doing an interview. He crawled forward. He was good at going in reverse (laughter). So he crawled forward for the first time.
Actually steered the car before the race started, too. Standing in the seat. Left his shoe in there. Maybe that's a lucky shoe.
What was the other question?
Q. When you have 43 cars out there, I heard drivers on the radio, some didn't like being pushed. What are we going to see? It's going to be a pack, absolutely. I think it's going to be a pack. I don't think there's going to be too many chances. You'll see some cars breakaway. I think if you turn on a 2000 race, one of those races, it's going to be very similar before we went to the wicker bill.
You're going to have a lot more advancing of positions when you get so many cars out there. Tonight you'd have eight cars up top, four on the bottom. Eight cars is always going to win over four. It's a difficult situation with fewer racecars. But they were always in a pack. Even though tonight they were somewhat in a pack.
Q. Kevin, could you talk a little bit about the block on Biffle on the last lap. Did you have a sense of how close that was going to be? I knew I was going to have to block one way or the other. I didn't know which way it was going to be. In the middle segment, I could tell Biffle was backing up, trying to time what his move was going to be as we got further into the segment. I was working on my timing to back up and block that.
With Tony, he was kind of starting to do the same thing. As we went into the last corner, I wanted to make sure I backed up enough coming off of turn four where he couldn't dive into turn one and block that move and make sure I backed up enough to do that.
Those guys were coming on the outside. I don't know if the 14 and the 16 were side-by-side, but I just felt like I needed to move up and try to block that momentum. We were able to block two of those moves.
Everything was happening a little bit slower at that particular point then. The cars we had in the past, you wouldn't have been able to move up and make that happen. Everything slowed down enough to where you could look and be able to block. They're just not coming 20 miles an hour faster than they used to.
Q. Talking about the block, when you're making a move like that, how committed do you have to be? If he made it an issue and stuck it in there, do you keep moving it up, eventually you collide? Is it a game of chicken at that point? I flipped my go-kart in my backyard on the last lap. When you're coming from white to checkered, it's whatever you have to do to try to make it happen.
I guess a game of chicken would be kind of the best way to put it.
Q. Can it be like the old days where a guy could make up dozens of positions in a lap and slice through the field like that? I think everybody who watched the race kind of saw how tentative everybody was in the middle at the beginning. Then as the race went on, everybody realized that handling wasn't as big an issue as they thought it was going to be.
I thought I saw and heard after the race that some of those guys were making up several positions with runs through the middle. If the cars are handling okay, you can make up those positions in the middle.
The way it used to be, the middle was kind of the same way. You could go through the middle, make up some time, but you had to find a way out when your momentum stopped. You either had to go up or down. If there's not a hole in one of those lines to get up or down, you're going to be stuck. All that momentum you had going forward is soon to be stopped unless you have cars behind you, so...
I think it's possible, for sure.
Q. Was there something in the previous two days of practice that gave you great confidence that you had a good chance tonight to take the win? Yeah. Nobody in the whole field had any clue what was going to happen, so we figured we had a good chance.
As we walked out to driver intros, there was not one driver out there that said, Man, I feel like I can do this, do that, I feel like my car is fast. Everybody was scared to death because they didn't have enough cars at the test, then we came back to the Shootout. We have provisions to have another car. You're just so short on cars, you didn't want to take any chances.
The first chances you had to take tonight were in the race because you had to because you finally got to the race. You knew if you tore that car up, you didn't need it anymore. It was one of those deals where the time and the amount of cars that you had, you just didn't want to risk putting the shop further behind for Phoenix and Vegas, all the places that are coming up, because you had to have stuff on the racetrack to be at the race.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I think in the practice yesterday, whenever it was, they kept working on our car and kept making it a little better, a little better. Like Kevin said, it's a whole unknown for everyone. The adjustments Gil and his guys made kept picking the car up a little.
You got to have speed, for sure, to go out and win here.
GIL MARTIN: I agree. We tried a couple of different setups actually last night because we were anticipating that the cars were going to move around a lot, were going to need a lot of grip. As it turned out with the weather the way it is, the cars had plenty of grip, so we were having to basically race qualifying setups. That's kind of what we did tonight.
I think that's going to turn around on Thursday and Sunday with the temperature going up. The cars are going to slip and slide a little more. Hopefully we're going to be prepared for that for what we have built in our car.
Q. Kevin, no one has really spoken much about the way the format all shook out. How was that for you? You were finding out in the cars. Did it work out okay? Was it a good thing?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think any format like this that you can involve the fans, I think it makes them appreciate that somebody's paying attention to them and really appreciates them being a part of our sport.
The only part, I think a lot of people look back and say, when they saw that wreck, you see the 12 cars, you see how hard it is to make moves with a limited amount of cars, eliminating cars would have been a bad deal because it just makes the racing that much harder and slows things down so much. Because the runs are slower, there's less people to make the bottom groove be as competitive as the top groove was.
When you have more cars than one line, that line is going to run faster.
All in all, I think it went pretty good. The trophy's really heavy (smiling).
Q. Richard, a little off topic. Furniture Row has wrecked two cars in two days. They've indicated they have something in place with you to maybe give them another car if they need one or fix them. Can you tell us what the agreement is there? How many do you actually have here?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, each one of our teams, we got eight cars here, and we got three back at the shop ready to go. We're going to help them in any way we can. We'll probably have one of those cars back tomorrow, repaired.
We got two or three more back at the shop.
GIL MARTIN: We have two more back at the shop. Fortunately for them and us, this car will be sitting there. Cleaned up, juiced up, ready to go in case it's needed. We got plenty of bullets in the chamber.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: As of now (laughter).
Q. Kevin, the wreck yesterday in practice was kind of a misjudgment of how fast one of the lanes was going. The first wreck today was Tony somewhat misjudging where the bottom lane was. How confident were you when you were trying to block near the end? Do you really know yet how quick the draft can move if you get out of that lane?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think you're exactly right. I think everybody is trying to figure that out. I think as the night went on, you kind of started to understand it. I feel like things are a lot slower coming at you than what we had with the tandem stuff in the previous years.
Just the way that things are in the car, whether it be something silly like your side mirror, mine is in a much different spot, much different shape than what it was.
The first five or six times I looked for the mirror, it was in a different spot, and I didn't see it because it wasn't there. It's up here instead of down here, because that bar is straight. The mirrors are in a different spot, the window nets are a little different.
Silly stuff like that really matters because when you've been driving something week after week for four years, everything is in the same spot, and you move one simple thing six or seven inches, things become a lot different.
You can anticipate where things are going to be. But both wrecks, and I heard Matt talking about it today, both wrecks have happened because of that left side mirror, things being different compared to what they were in the past. I've heard the same response from both of those guys.
I know that sounds silly, but you know where all the keys are on your keyboard, right?
Q. Since you knew that guys could get such a run in the two-car tandem, there wasn't a lot of hope of blocking, are you maybe -- -- cutting it a little closer? For sure. I saw the 16 coming tonight. I looked in the mirror twice. The spotter says I'm clear, I'm going to keep going. I eased my way up there. Luckily hit the bumper. He kept saying, Clear up, clear up, clear up. You just have to have the faith in that guy to hope he's right.
Q. Richard, Austin was really quick this morning in the first practice. If I'm not mistaken, he didn't go out in the second practice. What do you have going on with him and what are your expectations for him this week?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, first thing, he's got to make the race. They got a little advantage right now. All them guys have been doing is just tweaking, touching, rubbing, doing everything they can to that car, taking a few extra chances with the engine. Let's hope it makes it two laps tomorrow.
While Kevin and everybody else has been out testing the downforce cars, they know they got to go fast to make the race. That's the first thing you got to do. You got to be in the race to do anything else.
Q. Is he going to take a shot at the front row tomorrow?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I don't know. He'll be pretty good. But who knows what will happen. I think Danica right now has the star power. She's doing good. I mean, she's doing good. They're going to do good. I think she'll be the car to beat for the pole. She'll have a run. We struggled today with the 29. It was miserable as hell.
Tomorrow will be better wherever we end up, right, Gil?
GIL MARTIN: That's what I'm talking about.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: He ran from the back.
KEVIN HARVICK: If Danica sits on the pole, Dillon starts second, we might have some rumors. Just saying. It will be fun. We'll TMZ it all the way (laughter).
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It will be fun whatever. I just wanted to make the race.
KERRY THARP: Thank you, guys. Great show tonight. Good luck the rest of Speedweeks.
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