KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at NASCAR Daytona Media day and discussed the 10-year anniversary of KHI, the new points system, the Budweiser Shootout and much more.
WITH IT BEING THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF KEVIN HARVICK, INC. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE BEGINNINGS AND HOW MUCH SUCCESS YOU'VE HAD? "We've been fortunate to have the company evolve. It really wasn't ever intended to be anything other than just to go out and have fun and try to win a truck race. When (Tony) Stewart came along and wanted to run the Nationwide race it really evolved into what it is today. So it's probably mostly his fault that it evolved into what it is today. Its fun and I really enjoy the part of trying to put the people together and the sponsorship and everything that goes with that to make it all go around. So it's become kind of its own animal I guess you can say as it evolves into what it is today. We try to do everything we can do. We don't do it to make money or anything like that, we just do it to be a part of the sport and learn what we need to do so that one day when I'm done we'll have the option of having hopefully a company that's fully paid for and competitive if we want to stay in the sport."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT DELANA'S INVOLVEMENT? "Yeah, it's a full-time job for her just for the fact along with the competition side expanding obviously, the hospitality and the pr and everything that comes with the sponsorship stuff has to be taken care of. So, we both work hard at it and she has to work at it year around. I get to winter and then I come back from being a driver. But its fun and we enjoy it. It gives us both a good sense of things that we need to do better. Better as people and if we were going to be successful as a company things that you need to adjust as far as a constant adjustment, no matter how well you think you have things figured out and whether you are on top or on the bottom it's a constant adjustment to keep up with it."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF RICHARD'S COMMENT ABOUT WHEN HE SAID THE CHAMPIONSHIP WILL BE WON BY AN RCR CAR? "Richard's comment wasn't a championship would be won by RCR, Richard's comment was somebody needed to knock Jimmie Johnson off and it might as well be us. Richard is excited about this season and comfortable with where we are. From my standpoint I'm just gonna go out and race. But that's how he should be."
YOU TALKED ABOUT ALWAYS HAVING TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS, WITH THE SHORT OFF-SEASON AND NOT MUCH TESTING HOW DO YOU JUDGE WHETHER YOU GUYS HAVE DONE WHAT'S NEEDED TO DO TO CONTINUE TO PERFORM AT THE LEVEL YOU WERE, IS THERE ANYTHING OTHER THAN GETTING IN THE CAR AND SEEING THE RESULTS? "That's the best way to do it but I think for us the things that we had missed before we can always catch up and not keep pushing ahead. I think that was where the biggest adjustment we made last year was bringing Scott Miller in to make sure, Kent Day in the engineering department and the simulation and the aero department, all those things kept moving forward and being leaders and not just figuring out what everybody else is doing, catching up and not pushing ahead again and waiting until you get behind and then pushing to find out what everybody else did and then you build it and you catch up for a little bit then you are behind. I tell this to Richard a lot. I say the best example that we have is our engine shop. Our engine shop used to be not that great and now it's probably the best engine shop in the whole sport. Whether it's the truck, Nationwide or Cup level, they are the leader in what we do and that's a lot of the same philosophies and styles of management that have been installed with the race shop itself."
BUDWEISER IS DOING A ROAST FOR YOU ON TUESDAY, WHO ARE YOU MOST WORRIED ABOUT SPEAKING AND WHY? "I'm pretty much going into it with the fact knowing I'm pretty much going to get slammed. But the thing they all got to remember is I get the last work and so as many good stories them all have on me, I have on most of them. And I know better than to completely demolish my wife. She's probably going to get away with a lot more than the rest of them. Mike Dillon I have no worries about whatsoever because I have the ultimate story on him. I think Hornaday is probably the one that worries me the most to be honest with you."
WELL YOU'RE HIS BOSS. "Yeah, but in those in particular environments nobody cares about who your boss is and who you are. I think Hornaday, he's probably got . . ."
POLAROIDS? "(Laughter). He's got stories, pictures and the ones that he and I can't remember I'm sure Lindy does."
TO KNOCK OFF JIMMIE JOHNSON DO YOU JUST HAVE TO REPEAT WHAT YOU DID LAST YEAR? "I don't think you can count on him stumbling. I think that was a lot of the talk last year, they were stumbling and then here you go, you get into the Chase and there they are. I think for us it's doing a lot of the same things that we did last year. Our main focus was rebuilding the pit crew. We completely rebuilt the pit crew and I think this year brings a lot of new challenges. Obviously the noses are all different so reacting to how the cars are reacting we're heading in the wrong direction or doing something we shouldn't have, but just fine tuning everything and not letting down on the areas that we were strong last year, continuing to focus on those areas. Obviously they all talk about wanting to qualify better and if we do we do, that's fine. But I think the main thing besides the pit crew is just trying to win a couple more races."
SPEAKING OF THE PIT CREW, YOU GUYS HIRED A FEW GUYS FROM HENDRICK AND ALSO RPM, WERE ANY OF THOSE HENDRICK CREW MEMBERS FROM THE NO. 48 TEAM? "No."
EARLIER YOU TALKED ABOU THE NO. 48 TEAM BEING VULMERABLE AT THE END OF THE YEAR, WAS THAT SOMETHING THAT WAS ORGANIZATIONAL GIVEN THE CHANGES THEY MADE AT THE END OF THE SEASON? "Well I think when you look at the No. 48, I think that the biggest thing that sticks out to me was the performance of the other three cars so it's not just us that they beat. They continually beat the same teams they have in the same shop. So that to me tells me it's a chemistry thing. I think those are the things that I felt like we did a very good job at with our team last year, was just figuring out how to stay calmer than what we had in the past and figure out how to take a 20th-place car and finish seventh or eighth with it and those are the things they have always been good at is when they are junk in practice or they are junk in the race they figure out how to make something out of that particular day. But they do a better job at it than the other three cars sitting in their own shop. It's not a we need to go out and we to buy this or buy that, it's just about making sure we do the things and use the tools we have as a race team to figure out how to get out of those holes."
IT SEEMS LIKE YOU GUYS CAME INTO THE CHASE WITH A DIFFERENT APPROACH. "Well we wanted to have fun with the whole year last year. Obviously there was a lot more questions than there were answers when we started the year last year. But we went in with the approach of just having fun and not being mad and down. If things aren't going right we'll brush it off when we get on the airplane and go home and come back the next week with a fresh attitude. Gil (Martin, crew chief) does a very good job with that. He's very good with the guys and if you have a bad day or I say something wrong it doesn't become a bigger deal than it needs to be. They understand that I'm emotional and they don't want me to not speak my mind or hold it in, they want me to get it out and get it over with and move on in the race and that's it. It's a good chemistry and a good balance between everybody."
HOW MUCH DID YOU ENJOY NEEDLING DENNY (HAMLIN) THERE IN THAT LAST PRESS CONFERENCE? "I just sat back and watched. I didn't really mean to get involved. Jimmie was taking control. I just sat back."
DOES JIMMIE GET ENOUGH CREDIT AS A RACE CAR DRIVER? "That is a tough question. I think as you look at what they've accomplished, I think you have to respect what they've done as a race team. You look in sports history in general, you have to understand what they've done and as competitors we do. I think the hard part for them is they have a lot of fans but the fans haven't embraced what he's done as a race car driver and what that team has done as a team in general. So when the fans don't embrace that you don't get as much credit as you should."
YOU SAID YOU GET EMOTIONAL DURING A RACE, OVER THE COURSE OF THE SEASON, THIS MORNING KESELOWSKI SAID HE DOESN'T LET GRUDGES OR FEELINGS OF OTHER DRIVERS GO OVER IN THE OFF-SEASON, WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ABOUT THAT? "In my opinion I just go start and kind of do my own thing. You race as hard as you can, you are going to have some dust ups with some people and you try to handle them and you do the best that you can from inside the car and do what you think is right and sometimes that requires to do things that other people don't like. If you carry too much over at this point of the season all it does is take away from the performance of your own team. This is too big of a deal. You will gradually create those ruffled feathers and things as you go through this season so it's hard to carry over last year's unless you really pay attention to it."
WITH THE WAY THE TRACK IS NOW ARE WE MORE LIKELY TO SEE A FINISH LIKE YOU HAD IN '07, OR ARE YOU GOING TO SEE IT FAN OUT? "I don't think you are going to see any fanning out."
I MEANT THE WIDTH NOT THE LENGTH. "That's the difference between this place and Talladega there's only so much room. You can squeeze four-wide but it's going to be door-to-door-to-door and one's going to be on the apron and one's going to be next to the wall. The biggest thing that I notice from testing is if you touch that apron just a slight bit you are in deep trouble because it grabs the car and hangs a left and wants to instantly spin you out. That's different. There's not that transition of banking there used to be or where you can get away with something like that. So three-wide is pretty much it. If they're three-wide you're not going to see that two-car breakaway that you had coming from the middle or the back of the pack. There's not going to be anywhere to go. I think you're going to want to be towards the front and try to time that two-car breakaway towards the front of the pack because I don't believe there is going to be anywhere to go for those breakaways anywhere else."
WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THE NEW POINTS? "I don't think they did anything to address the first 26 weeks, which is something that probably still needs to be addressed. Everybody spends a lot of money and a lot of time to get to that particular point. That is probably the only thing that got left out. I'm really happy with kind of the wildcards that get into the Chase. Taking the top-10 from the points and obviously everybody likes the winning part of it. To have the bonus points as you lead up to it and I think the smaller point totals are a lot easier for us dumb guys to add up. I think it's very simple when you look at the way the points are spread out. So I like the simplicity of it. I just hope that we stick to it so that everybody can understand it."
AS A FORMER WINNER OF THIS RACE, YOU GOT TO ENJOY ALL THE SPOILS THAT CAME WITH IT, HOW BADLY DO YOU FEEL FOR A GUY LIKE MICHAEL WALTRIP WHO WON THIS RACE BUT ON A DAY THAT WAS ONE OF THE DARKEST IN THE SPORT AND NEVER REALLY GOT A CHANCE TO SAVOR THAT MOMENT? "This is obviously the biggest race you can win in our sport and there is nothing that even comes close to the magnitude or the excitement or anything that goes with it to be honest with you so obviously you hate for somebody not to be able to experience that and then carry that with you for years. You don't ever wish anything like that on anybody. It's the biggest race you can win and you want to enjoy while you have the opportunity to."
NOW THAT YOU'RE WEARING RED AND BLACK, WHAT DOES THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT MEAN AND TALK A LITTLE ABOUT WHAT WE MIGHT SEE IN THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT THIS YEAR IN PARTICULAR. "The Bud Shootout this year, I think everybody is anticipating it just for the fact you have the all new fueling system. I think there's questions there how fast he fuel goes in and what you do for strategy and things like that, but obviously we're not going to approach the Bud Shootout just because Budweiser is our sponsor any different than what we did in the past. We're gonna come here and try to win the race and know that there's no points on the line and do everything we can to win. Nothing has changed there."
YOU TALKED AT HOMESTEAD ABOUT HOW SOME OF THE OLD EARNHARDT FANS ARE FINALLY COMING ON BOARD WITH YOU GUYS AND HOW YOU FINALLY EMBRACE THEIR CONNECTION, IS THAT SOMETHING YOU SEE CONTINUING TO GROW? "Yeah, I think as we went through the year that was neat just to see that all come full circle and with everything that has happened. This is obviously the 10-year anniversary of everything that happened so there is a lot of focus on that and the fans are all aware of that. So it's great to see them back involved with the sport and that's the most important thing."
WHY DID IT TAKE YOU SO LONG TO EMBRACE THAT CONNECTION? "I just didn't like it. I didn't like everybody expecting you to be somebody else. Somebody else did this and somebody else did that. It just wore on me after a while and it was like the easiest thing to do was be defensive about it and not talk about it. Now that we've been able to establish ourselves as what we've done and establish a solid footing in the sport you realize when you step back a lot of things they are talking about are compliments to what you've been able to accomplish on the race track. So that's important. The other thing is it's just one of those things where RCR was built by Richard and a huge part of that was built by Dale and that's always going to be my car, and that's always going to be his car so the Heritage that Earnhardt not only carries in our sport but to our particular company is very important. I think once I was able to sit back and realize that it is very important to the people that work there and very important to the fans, you also learn how to make it important to yourself. So I think everybody understands that and we embrace the fact that we need to take responsibility and carry that forward."
BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP ARE YOU GLAD THAT JIMMIE DID SO YOU MAY BE THE ONE TO KNOCK HIM OFF? "I think you always want to beat the best and right now they are the best in our sport and so yeah. I never really thought about it that way but that's a great way to put it. The one to knock him off is finally going to be that guy. Like Richard said it would be great if it was us and we're going to do everything we can to try to do that just as we have done in the past. They've had some great accomplishments in this sport and somebody is going to beat them at some point. I know everybody keeps saying that but at some point hopefully it will finally happen."
THERE WAS A LITTLE TALK AT THE RCR LUNCH THAT WHEN YOU GOT UP AND SPOKE YOU GOT EMOTIONAL AND MAYBE EVEN A LITTLE TEARY EYED, WHAT STRUCK YOU SO? "I think that as you look back at everything that happened 10 years ago there's a lot of people that had a huge part in playing up until that point that had been around Dale and Richard. For me it's more about the company and Richard and I just wanted to make sure everybody understood how important these weeks were and making sure that you are able to understand the magnitude of this weekend and how much it all means to hundreds of us at that company to come down here and be successful and how important it would be to race for a championship and try to win it on this particular year. It's just there are a lot of us that are around it and obviously I didn't have a great close personal relationship with Dale so it's more about knowing how emotional a lot of the guys in the company and Richard were and you saw how down they were and how tore up they were. When you think back about all that stuff everybody went through a lot. It's important for everyone to understand the magnitude of this weekend."
IS THAT WHAT YOU PLANNED OR DID THAT JUST KIND OF COME OUT? "I carry a lot of my emotion on my sleeve. It means a lot to me and a lot of people there."
-source: team chevy