KEVIN HARVICK, DRIVER OF THE NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS participated in a teleconference with members of the media and discussed night racing, the economy, racing in Daytona and much more. KEVIN WELCOME AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. ...
KEVIN HARVICK, DRIVER OF THE NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS participated in a teleconference with members of the media and discussed night racing, the economy, racing in Daytona and much more.
KEVIN WELCOME AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. "Thanks for having me. Wish those stats were a little bit better but that's the way it is so I guess we're ready to answer some questions."
JUST WANTED TO TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE SUCCESS YOU'VE HAD IN CHICAGO, HOW MUCH DOES THAT HELP YOU WHEN YOU GO TO A TRACK WHERE YOU'VE HAD SOME SUCCESS? "Well, Chicago has obviously been really good to us as far as the numbers go but a lot of other places have been good to us too as far as the numbers have gone and nothing has really gone right this year. We've wrecked too much. We've made a lot of mistakes. We started off the year really well and just haven't had anything go right since about week five. It's good to come to a race track where things are going good and hopefully you get that monkey off your back and you can go on with it."
DO YOU LIKE THE NIGHT RACING SWITCH HERE IN THE CHICAGO RACE? "I don't know exactly what the night race is going to do for the crowd. I'm sure there is a lot to do in Chicago on a Friday and Saturday night so it will be interesting to see how all that works. Night racing is kind of a fad. I don't know if that's the best thing in the world to have. I like racing at night but I don't know if that's the best thing for our sport."
HOW STRESSFUL IS THIS DEAL WITH THE CHASE, IS IT SOMETHING THAT'S ON YOUR MIND CONTINUALLY OR CAN YOU PUT IT ASIDE DURING THE WEEK? "It doesn't really bother me at all. There's really nothing you can do about, the way that it all shakes out is the way that it is all supposed to shake out. You go to the race track and you run as fast as you can every week and you want to do the best that you can. Obviously with the circumstances the way that they've been this year, it's hard to control some of the things that we've done and we can control some of the things that have happened too. I think that's the one thing about being a professional athlete you have to take those things and not let them bother you. Obviously they make for good stories in the newspaper but you can wear yourself out thinking about things like that week in and week out. So you just go out and you race and you try to do the things the best that you can and hopefully you're in the right spot by the end of Richmond."
WE HAVE JUST SEEN CHIP GANASSI SHUT DOWN ONE OF HIS NATIONWIDE TEAMS FOR LACK OF SPONSORSHIP, AS A TEAM OWNER DOES THAT KIND OF MAKE YOU A LITTLE NERVOUS? "I don't know that it makes you nervous but obviously the clamps have to be tightened on everybody's race teams right now as far as a budget standpoint to just make sure that you're running your business correctly and doing things tight. We're seeing the same things here. The hard part about it is when you're fighting for a sponsor with NASCAR and trying to keep a Cup primary in the Sprint Cup Series and you're fighting with that with NASCAR and the team doesn't wind up with the sponsor and now the team's shut down. I think in one sense NASCAR has to kind of look at itself and say why are we fighting the teams for the same sponsors that need to be putting the cars on the race track too. There's a lot of things that you have to look at from a team owner standpoint and that particular situation the sponsor that went from the team to the series and that's not good for car counts."
OBVIOUSLY YOU'RE FRUSTRATED, WHAT CAN YOU AND THE TEAM DO TO PLAY OUT THAT FRUSTRATION? IS IT JUST BAD RACING LUCK RIGHT NOW OR ARE YOU NOTICING LITTLE PROBLEMS AND YOU'RE BEING ABLE TO TWEAK THEN AS YOU GO ALONG? "I don't think I ever said I was frustrated. That's just part of our sport as you go through the ups and downs. I've been through a lot of these periods where you go, I've been on the up side of it and I've been on the down side of it. There's no frustration it's just that you go out and you race and things happen. I've been through this for a number of years. I never said that I was frustrated I just said that there's a lot of things that haven't gone the way that you want them to go. That happens in everyday life. Things necessarily don't always go the way that you want them to and you have to adjust and make things go forward. We're building cars. You don't want to wreck but wrecking happens and that's why they put the walls up. Things are going to happen and a lot of the things that have kept us where we needed to be in the points in the past we haven't been able to do this year. When things are not going your way you're finishing races and I've crashed a couple cars this year and we've run out of gas and last week it rained. The thing about being in the sport long enough is you understand those things are going to happen and you don't let them frustrate you, you just move forward with it and once last week's over whether you've won or lost its over."
DO YOU HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE GOING INTO THIS RACE AT DAYTONA SINCE YOU HAVE WON THERE LAST YEAR? "I don't know. Our speedway stuff hasn't been what it needs to be over the past couple of years as far as qualifying and things go but we always seem to race well and we have won at Daytona. We've had a little bit of success there. I like going to Daytona. I enjoy racing the July fourth race and enjoy this part of the season. It definitely gives you a little bit of confidence when you go to a race track that you've won at but like I said we've won at a lot of race tracks that we've gone to this year so I don't know that there is any added confidence going from one track to the other."
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE DIFFERENCE IN DRAFTING WITH THE NEW CAR VERSES THE OLD CAR AT THE RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES? "There's not near as much side draft as there used to be with the old car. The side draft is almost not effective at all. The bumpers line up a lot better so the bump drafting is a lot more aggressive than what it was with the other car. It was aggressive with the other car but you can really get pretty aggressive with this car. Still the handling of the car is the most important thing when you get to Daytona whether it's the old car or new, so that's still the most important thing that we go through. As we go through the weekend at Daytona is making sure that your car handles right and you can keep the throttle on the floor as long as you can."
DO YOU THINK THE HANDLING IS GOING TO BE A PROBLEM FOR SOME OF THE YOUNGER DRIVERS WHO AREN'T AS EXPERIENCED ON THIS TRACK WITH THE NEW CAR? "I think they've all had plenty of experience at it so far this year. We've already been there a couple of times with the testing and raced it and I think everybody has a pretty good baseline as far as what's going to happen."
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF NASCAR OPENING UP TESTING COMPLETELY. "Free-for-all testing, that would be probably one of the worst things that we did to our sport. Our schedule is already too long. We already don't really get to spend much time at home. I think that asking the crew chiefs how many times they want to test is probably not the right thing to do because if you ask a crew chief how many times they want to test, they want to test every week. I really like the old policy. I do think the testing policy needs to change for the fact that we go to a lot of different race tracks guessing whether the information is right and it would be nice just to not do those tests anymore and go to the right race tracks. Obviously we're going to go to Daytona and test for NASCAR and then I think probably seven two-day tests at anywhere you want to test at the race tracks that you test on would be good. That way as an owner you could budget around that and you know how many tires you're going to buy and you know how many days you're going to be there. It would be a lot easier to plan around that. At some point you have to continue to think about how much it's going to cost and where you're going to go and how logistically you can do that most efficiently. I think from a NASCAR stand point they need to ask the people who are paying the bills and spending the time putting all that stuff together."
AS FAR AS THE CHASE GOES, DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE RACING FOR THOSE SPOTS RIGHT NOW? "It doesn't really matter. I don't look, you just go and you race as fast as you can and you try to get your car going as fast as you can. If you do that part right and you finish races then you'll be in the right spot."
WHAT'S THE LATEST ON YOU POSSIBLY GETTING INVOLVED IN NHRA DRAG RACING? "Right now we've tabled all that stuff. There's so much changing in the whole world right now as far as where sponsorship dollars are going and we're just kind of taking a step back and going to take a couple years here and just really focus on our two trucks and see where the Nationwide thing goes as far as the rules packages and where the economy goes instead of jumping in with both feet. Right now we're just going to kind of table that idea. It's something that we're interested in and still would consider looking at going forward, but we're going to take a couple years here and really just see where everything goes."
HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THE HEALTH OF THE TRUCK AND NATIONWIDE SERIES? "I think that the Nationwide Series obviously they're talking about changing the car, not changing the car, it's hard to plan on where you need to go with everything. That's the hardest part about the Nationwide Series. Our truck programs are strong. I think the field hasn't been any worse. It seems like we've got fairly good competition on the truck side there. I think everybody's concern is just knowing what car we're going to race in the Nationwide Series. When we're going to transition the new car in and what the rules are going to be."
HOW WORRIED ARE YOU ABOUT THE SPORT IN TERMS OF THE ECONOMY? PEOPLE SEEM TO HAVE A LOT MORE TROUBLE PUTTING SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS OF GAS IN THE CAR TO TRY TO COME TO THE RACE. "I don't think it's something that is affecting our particular sport any more than it's affecting anything in the world. Everybody is kind of in a panic as far gas prices and everything in general. Groceries are more expensive, gas is more expensive. It's more expensive to do everything. In that sense when you watch a baseball game the baseball stadiums are not full or you look at races some of the races aren't full. I think the race was sold out last week so that was good. We've kind of been through this before back in 2002 with the economy. You just got to wait for it to turn and ride through the rough times here and it's nothing that we haven't been through before. It's just something that we've got to get creative and make it affordable for people to keep coming to the races."
AS FAR AS RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING GOES, DOES IT BOTHER DRIVERS THAT FANS ARE KIND OF WAITING FOR A BIG ONE TO HAPPEN? "That's just part of our sport. If you're going to race you're going to wreck. Superspeedway racing is exciting because we race in packs and things happen and that's just part of it. It's exciting to watch. I enjoy watching it too."
WHEN YOU'RE TALKING TO POTENTIAL SPONSORS DO THEY FIND NASCAR STILL AS POPULAR AS AN OPPORTUNITY AS THEY USED TOO, OR IS IT SIMPLY THEY DON'T HAVE AS MUCH MONEY AS THEY DID BEFORE? "It's a competitive market from all different aspects as far as everybody's trying to run their company as efficiently as possible right now. So everybody's looking to somebody who wants to get creative with everything that's happening. I think you've got to get creative and you have to offer the sponsors as much value as possible whether it's in Nationwide, truck, cup whatever it is. It's pretty common across the board that everybody's looking at the books and trying to keep everything as tight as possible until we get a stable as possible economy. There's a lot of activity. When things like our economy is like it is right now, some companies are looking to capitalize on it, really get some exposure and build their business through the times when other people can't afford to. There's a lot of activity, just people are asking more questions than in the past and hopefully you can have those answers and make it worth their while."
HAVING BUILT KEVIN HARVICK, INCORPORATED FROM THE GROUND UP AND BUILDING IT INTO A CHAMPIONSHIP WINNING TRUCK TEAM, WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE TO A NEW OWNER LIKE RANDY MOSS AS FAR AS BEING SUCCESSFUL AND HAVING LONGEVITY IN THE SPORT? "Hire somebody who knows what the hell is going on. The hardest part is when you're building a race team and we went through this is you have to hire people and you have to sell people on the fact that you're a new race team and you're going to be here for a long time and be competitive. The hardest part is building the team competitively but financially making it make sense on all sides of it. You have to make that initial investment to get it to the point where it's built up and then you have to convince the people that you're going to be here for a long time. That's the biggest thing that we had to build was the trust in the sport as far as we're not going anywhere and we're here to race and here to do things right from a business stand point. In the beginning it takes some of your own money to get it all going."
GOING BACK TO THE STATEMENT THAT YOU MADE EARLIER ABOUT YOU DIDN'T KNOW IF NIGHT RACING WAS GOOD FOR THE SPORT, WHY DO YOU SAY THAT BECAUSE THEY'VE ALWAYS TALKED ABOUT THE PRIME TIME TV AT NIGHT? "I guess it's all a matter whether you want people in the grandstands or you want people to watch it on TV. I like to watch my TV shows that come on at the same time because that's the only way that I can remember that they're on. NASCAR racing for a long time was on Sunday at 12:00 or 1:00 after everybody got out of church and you go home and you watch the race and then you still had an evening. I think that you can argue it both ways. If the grandstands aren't full and you want a prime time .V race, you can't have it both ways I guess is the best thing to say. Usually Chicago is sold out so this will be a really good test to see if it is right or wrong. Consistency to me is more important than having a race, one on Saturday, the next week it's on Sunday, the next week it's on Friday. I would rather have the races come on at the same time so everybody knows what they're watching but the TV people would rather have it in prime time and that's good for our sponsors too. I guess you have to have a fine mix of things. It's new so you have these debates of whether its right or wrong and next week we're going to find out whether its right or wrong."
DO YOU FEEL THAT HAVING THESE RACES ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHTS IS HURTING THE LOCAL SHORT TRACKS? "I don't think it does them any good. I know talking to some of the short track owner's, they have a hard time drawing crowds when the races are on. Obviously you get your competitors but the crowds are definitely down when we race on Friday and Saturday nights. Like I say, we go to have prime time TV stuff but we also have to have consistency so the fans know when to follow it."
IT SEEMS LIKE THE LAST FIVE OR SIX RACES HAVE EITHER COME DOWN TO FUEL MILEAGE OR PIT STRATEGY, IS THAT AT ALL FRUSTRATING FOR YOU AS A DRIVER THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE LESS CONTROL OVER THE OUTCOME AND HAS THE SMALLER FUEL CELL REALLY HAD AN EFFECT IN THAT REGARD? "I think any time you have to make more pit stops, I think it mixes things up and to me it makes it exciting because you wind up with all different strategies. This week Kurt Busch didn't have a chance to win the race at all and they gambled and it started raining. For me, we ran in the top five, led some laps and felt like we had a fourth to sixth-place car and finished 14th with it. That's frustrating but we had the same opportunity to stay out on the race track and do the same thing that they did. In one sense it all evens out in the end. Sears Point is the same type of race that it's been as long as I've ever raced there. Loudon is the same type of raced that it has been since I've ever raced there, it's always been that type of race. Michigan was one of those deals where it seems to come down to fuel mileage a lot as well. If you go back and look at the history of a lot of these races, they aren't any different than they really have been in the past. The smaller fuel cell makes you pit more but I think that makes it exciting."
-credit: gm racing