KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed racing at Kansas Speedway, having three wins this season, racing the Nationwide car this weekend at Chicagoland and other topics.
TALK ABOUT HOW KANSAS SPEEDWAY HAS EVOLVED IN ITS 10 YEAR HISTORY: “I actually came here for the first media day before the race, I guess you would call it a Winner’s Circle appearance, and there was nothing here. So, you can see the affects that the race track has had on the surrounding area and the different companies and the amount of people that have come with it. It is pretty awesome to see the growth of the speedway from the beginning. It is kind of fun to see that.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR ITINERARY FOR THIS WEEKEND RUNNING HERE AND THE NATIONWIDE RACE IN CHICAGOLAND? “It is pretty simple. We aren’t going there to practice or anything, so, we’ll be here today and then tomorrow we will qualify here. Then after qualifying is over, we’ll fly to Chicago, qualify the car and then race and then come back. David Mayhew is going to practice the car up there. He’s done that for me a couple times. He is a kid from the West Coast. So he’ll be there practicing the car there today.”
THIS IS THE FIRST TRUCK RACE SINCE THE PENALTY, HOW BIG OF AN OBSTACLE IS THE 25 POINT PENALTY AND WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT IT WAS 25 POINTS OR IS THAT ABOUT WHAT YOU EXPECTECT? “The whole thing is just kind of a bad deal. We get all of our gears from a gear manufacturer and you just put them in there and hope that they are right. At Daytona, he finished dang near last so they were more than 25 points in the hole, if they can’t make up 25 points; I’ve got the wrong people on that team.”
QUESTION ABOUT PENALTIES ACROSS SERIES, AUDIO INAUDIBLE: “I think it depends on what series you are looking at. So, the Truck deal, I don’t know what is too harsh over there because you are $10,000 in the hole every week and 25 points is a fairly healthy penalty so, I don’t know what is right and what is wrong to be honest with you. I don’t know what that would have been equivalent to in years past. Any penalty is a bad penalty.”
WHAT ARE THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THIS KANSAS TRACK? “I think when you look at the facility itself, when you look at the surrounding area, there are not too many places that we go to that have built around the race track like this particular track. From a fan standpoint, when you look at the race track, there’s things to do and place to go so that part of it is good. The race track itself is a lot like a lot of the other race tracks we go to as far as the race track shape and size, so that doesn’t really set it aside from a lot of other places. The one thing that does set it aside is the way that the race track has aged, which is a good thing. You look at Charlotte, those types of race tracks, the asphalt has not changed much over the years and this particular race track, the tires wear out, it gets slick and the cars start to slide around which makes the racing groove move up, which it has done here over the past couple of years so that part of it has changed a little bit differently than a lot of the mile-and-a-half tracks.”
IT IS HALF WAY THROUGH THE “REGULAR” SEASON AND YOU HAVE THREE WINS, CONVENTIONAL WISDOM WAS THAT IF YOU HAD TWO, YOU WOULD PROBABLY BE SAFE FOR THE CHASE, HOW ARE YOU GUYS LOOKING AT THAT? IS THAT SOMETHING YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT? “Obviously you want to keep running well, but I think that when we got to the two wins, it was the topic of conversation in the competition meetings just for the fact, you look at last week, seventh or eighth in the points, you aren’t making those calls at the end of the race. I mean, you can’t afford a 25th place finish running out of gas. In the position we are in, you are able to do those things. You don’t think twice about and that is what you should be doing is trying to gain more wins so you gain more bonus points at the of the 26th race. For us, we have been trying a lot of different things, just trying to zero in on packages for different styles of race tracks, and just going outside of our normal comfort zone I guess you could say. When it comes time to make strategy calls, the only calls you even consider are the ones that could let you win. I think that was very evident last week.
“When you look back at Dover and you look back at Charlotte, and then you look at this week, these are all Chase races, so you need to have a solid understanding of what particular package you want to have underneath your car when you come back to these races. You don’t need to start practice like we have at the last two, Charlotte and Dover, and be from one package to another package, back to this package. We are searching for what is most comfortable for me, what is the fastest on the race track. When we go back to those particular races, we won’t deviate from that.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE SURFACE HERE AT KANSAS, DO YOU LIKE IT BETTER THAN YOU LIKE CHARLOTTE? “I am a lot more comfortable here. It has been a fairly good race track for us performance wise. The tires wear out and the banking isn’t as much, the transitions are different and you can move around the race track. Where last week, it seemed like we got…there were a few guys that could move around, but not like normal. It didn’t seem like we had a lot of guys up against the wall like we normally do at Charlotte. This track has aged to the point to where the tires fall off, you can move up the race track; you can run in the middle of the race track, you can run the bottom. You still have to carry a lot of speed at the beginning but a lot less throttle time than last week at Charlotte.”
We’re the same team we’ve always been.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT KANSAS AND CHICAGO THAT FITS YOUR DRIVING STYLE MORE THAN CHARLOTTE? “You know, it’s just the tires are different, the surface is different. Pretty much all the things I just said. The transitions, the surface, the moving up and down the race track; it just gives you more options.”
AFTER THE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS HAVE DISCUSSED LAST WEEK’S FINISH, HOW MUCH ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE GREEN FLAG THIS WEEK? “Why would you want to quit talking about a good day? I don’t even pay attention to what you guys write so I haven’t really paid attention; I don’t even know what you are talking about.”
WHY RUN IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES? “Honestly, this weekend, we made a mistake in the scheduling. I had a set number of races that I had to run for the sponsor. I wound up having to pick up the slack this week otherwise I wouldn’t be running it.” PAGE
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT IT AFFECTING YOUR SPRINT CUP EFFORT HERE SUNDAY? “No.”
WOULD CARL EDWARDS GIVE YOU A RIDE BACK IN YOUR PLANE IF YOU NEEDED ONE? “Yes, he already offered.”
TAKE US THROUGH THE MINDSET WHEN YOU REALIZE YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE A CAR CAPABLE OF WINNING BUT YOU HAVE TO GET YOURSELF TO THE FRONT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE WHEN OTHER PEOPLE HAVE A PROBLEM LIKE LAST WEEKEND: “There were a lot of decisions as a group that we had to make and really it started towards 100 laps to go. We didn’t want to make two pit stops. With about 30 laps left in that next-to-last run, Gil (Martin, crew chief) came on the radio and said. ‘What do you think about coming into pit?’. I said we didn’t come here to run 15th so let’s stay out and take a chance and if we have to pit, we have to pit. That kept us in the window for just one more pit stop when the caution came out with just a few laps short of our window. For us it was a lot of gas conservation as soon as that run started and all those guys took off racing. That was our best chance to win and when you get in a position to where you are seventh or eighth and you realize that you don’t have the fastest car, you have to figure out another way to win. When you get toward the end of those races, I think Darlington we had a car capable of winning that race and we came in and pitted and all those guys stayed out and did the same thing we did last weekend. You have to be aggressive as far as taking chances and strategy and doing different things in order to put yourself in those positions, you have to be somewhere towards the front, but in a sense, you don’t have to be. If you can make the right decisions at the right times, you can give yourself the track position and things can fall your way like they did last week. We’ve been on both sides of the fence. I think Darlington is a great example. Dover is a great example and Charlotte was the same way.”
YOU PROBALY HAVE THE MOST MOMENTUM WITH THREE WINS, BUT YOU HAVEN’T LED A LOT OF LAPS, IS THIS THE WEEK YOU EXPECT TO BREAK THROUGH AND LEAD A LOT OF LAPS? “I doubt it. It’s been 10 years and we don’t lead a lot of laps. We’re the same team we’ve always been. We race, we put ourselves in position and we see what happens in the end.”
Gil’s biggest asset is his people skills.
YOU AND JIMMIE JOHNSON HAD SOME FUN WITH A TWITTER EXCHANGE THIS PAST WEEK, WOULD YOU SAY YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF THE HORSESHOE NOW? “I hope so. I hope we get to keep it. It is fun to be able to have performance in your race cars. I’ve said this about the No. 48 for a long time. They have had performance in their race cars and when they get in those situations where things are going their way, they are able to capitalize and finally, we’re able to capitalize when we have some breaks on pit road and we have fuel mileage, whatever the case may be. You car still has to be still running decent. When you get in those positions and you are able to capitalize on it, it makes it that much better. I hope we get to keep it until November 21st.”
TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP ABOUT GIL MARTIN AND WHAT ARE THE QUALITIES HE HAS BROUGHT TO THE TABLE? “Gil’s biggest asset is his people skills. He’s very good at corralling the guys and myself and making you feel good about when things are going bad or things are going good, whatever the situation is. He’s going to get mad but he’s going to figure out how to spin it into a positive direction really fast.
So, he’s built a group of guys around him that have been around him for a long time. Gil has been around me for a long time too. Back in 2000 when we started the Nationwide team, they brought Gil in to be Mike Dillon’s crew chief. A lot of these guys were around for that so a lot of us have been around one another for a long time. The chemistry just works. Everybody understands who each other is and understands who I am when I get behind the wheel of a race car and how I can be and it just clicks.”
ARE YOU A FAN OF THE PLAYOFF BEARD? DO YOU THINK THIS MIGHT BRING SOME LUCK? “It is a great promotion but I can’t wait until Monday.”
HOW HARD IS IT FOR YOU PERSONALLY TO FLIP THE SWITCH OFF AND GO BACK TO NORMAL LIFE AS FAR A NEEDING THAT SPEED? “I have never been somebody to drive very fast on the road. So, I’m probably the wrong guy to ask that. I am very rarely, if I am in a car with somebody else, very rarely do I drive when I’m at home. I can flip the switch off instantly. I don’t have any need for any of that. I would rather honestly not even drive on the road. I’ve never driven very fast on the road to be honest with you. I guess I get my fix while I am here.”
-source: team chevy