KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET met with media and discussed past performance at Charlotte Motor Speedway, his competitors in the Chase, the upcoming race at Talladega, and more. TALK ABOUT YOUR MINDSET HEADING INTO SATURDAY...
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET met with media and discussed past performance at Charlotte Motor Speedway, his competitors in the Chase, the upcoming race at Talladega, and more.
TALK ABOUT YOUR MINDSET HEADING INTO SATURDAY NIGHT'S BANK OF AMERICA 500 HERE AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY "Right now everything is going fairly well. I think obviously there is always room for improvement. We've run well over the last couple of weeks. This will be a big weekend for us. Every weekend is a big weekend, so it's really nothing new. You've just got to go out and keep doing the things that you're doing and play your own game and see where it all falls at the end."
HISTORICALLY, CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY HAS BEEN A CHALLENGE FOR YOU. WHY ARE YOU GOOD AT SOME AND WHY IS THIS ONE TOUGH? BASED ON THE FACT THAT YOU'VE RUN WELL ON OTHER 1.5-MILE TRACKS THIS YEAR, ARE YOU MORE OPTIMISTIC THIS TIME? "Last time when we came here we ran well and that's really all that we have to base it off of is how we ran at the first race this year. It's the same tire. We had a spoiler on the car. There, for a while, we didn't run good at any of the 1.5-mile race tracks through 2005, 2004; those types of places weren't good for us. Really, the 1.5-mile tracks have been probably our strong suit this year, the bigger race tracks. We've been off more at some of the short tracks than we have at any of the 1.5-mile tracks. I feel like we have a good baseline. I got to spend the whole day yesterday in the Nationwide car at that test and have a practice before. We get to practice our Cup car today.
"So, based on the first race, I don't see any big red flags. Obviously there's not a 'win' in the column at this particular race track for us and statistically it hasn't been our best race track but statistically none of the Chase tracks that we started at have been very good for us when we've been in the Chase either. So, we've just got to keep doing what we're doing and stay close enough to keep pressure on and capitalize on the days when you're running good."
ON SCOTT MILLER (RCR COMPETITION DIRECTOR) WHAT ALLOWS HIM TO SLIDE INTO THOSE INTERIM ROLES ALMOST SEAMLESSLY? "Well I think his experience at the crew chief role is very good. When he slid in for me, he had been the engineer and he came in and knew what the team (Clint Bowyer) was all about. And being the competition director I think he knows what makes that team click and has listened to Clint enough to know what makes the team click. Really, when the crew chief gets thrown out (suspended) like that, the preparation at the shop is at an all-time high.
"Going to the race track and everybody has a plan in place to make sure that the engineers step up and do things that they normally don't do, and there's a little bit deeper playbook than probably it would require on a normal basis just for the fact that the crew chief is not there. But Scott does a good job. His demeanor is very calm. And he can fit into any situation no matter who it's with and he just knows a lot about the organization and how it functions with each individual team as well."
A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY THAT JIMMIE JOHNSON IS THE ONE TO BEAT, BUT THAT HE IS BEATABLE THIS YEAR. WHEN HE GOES ONE-TW0-THREE IN THE LAST THREE RACES, IS THERE ANY SENSE OF HERE WE GO AGAIN? AS YOU'RE CHASING JIMMIE ON THE TRACK, IS (CREW CHIEF) GIL (MARTIN) CHASING (JIMMIE'S CREW CHIEF) CHAD KNAUS? "Well I think as you look at it from a driver's standpoint, right now we're just kind of doing our own thing. I don't really care what they do or how it's done. We've got to score the most points that we can. Obviously they've been very good in the Chase as far as making things happen and they run well at most of the race tracks that we go to. The one-two-three part is pretty typical if you go back and look at what they've done in the past and we just have to keep our stuff in single digits and not make any mistakes and that's what we did all year. So that's our strong suit is usually not making a mistake; and whether that's good enough to beat him in the end, we won't know until we get to Homestead. So as far as the Gil and Chad question, I don't think it's an individual team thing from an RCR standpoint. Obviously the No. 48 (Johnson) outruns all the other teams at Hendrick Motorsports pretty much on a year-to-year basis so I think that would be a good question as to whether their three crew chiefs are chasing Chad. As an organization we're doing the best we can with what we have."
WITH TALLADEGA LOOMING IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS, DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT WITH THE POINT SEPARATION AND HOW CLOSE YOU ARE TO THE LEAD? IS IT THE WILD CARD RACE OR IS IT JUST RACE BY RACE AND THAT DOESN'T MATTER? "I think you can control a lot of more things at the other places (tracks). But when you get to Talladega you're kind of at the mercy of a lot of things that can happen around you. So, I think after you get done with Talladega you'll kind of know where you stand as far as what you need to do over the last few weeks. I think the last few weeks are really good race tracks for us and Talladega is a good race track for us as well. They can all flip you upside down and turn things around and have things turn at any given week, but it seems the Talladega is definitely the biggest wild card as far as what's going to happen and who is going to get caught in a wreck and who isn't. So, I think everybody is waiting for that particular race to see where you stack up from there. I think where we are right now, I think things have; every time I say this Tony (Stewart) goes out and wins a race and Greg (Biffle) goes out and wins a race and they're right back in it. Every time you think somebody's out, they come back and rebound. But it really looks like there's starting to be a slimmer group of guys that you're going to have to look over your shoulder or look up to, to see what you've got to do to try to win. So, we've just got to keep doing what we're doing."
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE SPEEDING PENALTY FOR YOU LAST WEEKEND AT CALIFORNIA, DO YOU HAVE TO CHANGE ANYTHING OR DOES IT SIT IN YOUR MIND? "We had a problem with our tach last week and I was going to fast. I was going 60.08. I must have just surged through a light, I thought I had it all figured out as to how it was working. But, obviously I didn't and went to fast."
YOU TALKED EARLIER ABOUT FINISHING SINGLE DIGITS, THREE OR FOUR GUYS THAT ARE BEYOND JIMMIE (JOHNSON) HAVE HAD GOOD OR AT LEAST DECENT FINISHES IN THE CHASE, CAN YOU KEEP DOING THAT FOR THE NEXT THREE OR FOUR RACES AND THEN REALLY SHOOT FOR EVERYTHING IN THE LAST COUPLE? "Here is my motto through the whole thing. You don't have to win it in one week, but, you sure can lose it in one. That is been the theory as we've gone about week-after-week as far as, I look at Loudon as the ultimate example of what we've done so far. Consistency has been our strong point, so there is no reason not to lean on that. If it is not good enough in the end, its not good enough. But those are the things that we lean on to be the strong point and get the good finishes and just wear 'em down. That is really what our strong point is. When you look at Loudon, those guys all stayed out, I think half of them ran out of gas. Clint made it and won the race, but the risk versus the reward, when they said we might be able to make it, I said I'm not even going to save you any gas because we are going to pit. There is no reason to get behind. It is harder to make up points week in and week out than it is to lose. So you just have to go out and protect yourself the best you can and race as hard as you can and get the best finish that you can."
AS WE GET TO THE HALF WAY POINT OF THE CHASE, DOES THE MENTAL PART OF YOUR JOB GET EASIER OR DOES IT GET TOUGHER AND HOW DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF TO BE WHEN IT COMES TO THE MENTAL PART OF THE GAME? ARE YOU GOOD AT IT, IS THAT ONE OF YOUR STRONG SUITS? "I think it depends on how much we've got to play the game. It just depends on the scenarios of how the Chase has started. I think right now everything is pretty calm. I think from a mental standpoint, it's obviously this is what we want to do. We want to win a championship and we want to race for a championship. The only way to win it is to be able to race for it. I feel like that is what we are doing. I feel like I have been around it long enough to know that you just go out and race and take all the pressures and deal with them yourself. You try to do the best that you can week in and week out. Makes me edgy, I know that for sure. It makes me a little more on edge, if that is possible."
IN YOUR MIND, WHO IS REALLY STILL IN THIS CHASE? "I think you look from fifth forward. I think that is it really unless somebody just goes on a tear, this is just kind of where it is at right now."
AT THE END OF ANY RACE, EVERYBODY IS GOING FOR IT TO EITHER WIN OR GAIN POINTS, HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU MADE MOVES TO TRY TO GAIN POSITIONS WHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MOVE YOU WERE THINKING YOU WEREN'T SURE YOU WERE GOING TO COME OUT OF IT? HOW OFTEN DO YOU SEE THAT? "In my mind, nine times out of 10, the aggressor comes out up top. So, Ill take that tenth of a percent and 10% chance of making a mistake and having things happen. But, if you don't protect yourself in trying to go forward, you are going to get run over. Usually, by trying to stay out of trouble, you usually find more trouble than you will just going and racing like you normally do."
YOU SAID TALLADEGA WAS KIND OF A CRAP SHOOT AND RISKY FOR EVERYBODY, BUT GIVEN YOUR STRENGTH ON PLATE TRACKS THIS YEAR, IF THERE IS SUCH A THING OF ANYBODY BEING A LITTLE BIT STRONGER IN POSITION GOING INTO TALLADEGA, WOULD YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT MAYBE YOU ARE IN LESS RISK THAN THE OTHERS? "I'll take the odds. If it all ended at Talladega and we were behind, I'll take the odds. We've been really good on those race tracks this year. I feel like we've had good strategies and done the things that we have needed to do and had fast cars. So really in the end, fast cars is what it takes to even have shot at winning a race, you have to have a car that is capable of doing that. I like the plate races. I enjoy them. We'll go there and race just like we have and all the rest of them this year and hopefully come out with similar outcome."
GOING TO MARTINSVILLE, YOU HAVE AVERAGING FROM ABOUT 8TH PLACE TO 11TH PLACE FINISH, WHAT WILL TAKE TO GET YOU GUYS INTO THE TOP-FIVE OR MAYBE A WIN THIS TIME? "I think we've run well there. We ran well at the first race and had some mechanical issues. We just have to keep doing what we've been doing. I think (Jeff) Burton had the fastest car there last time and wound up getting a flat tire, so we will look at those notes and go from there and see what happens."
-source: gm racing