Michigan International Speedway
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET met with media and discussed fuel mileage and race strategy, long winless streaks, being off probation, track repaving, and more.
ON THE MIS REPAVE ANNOUNCEMENT: “I’m not a big fan of repaving anywhere, to be honest with you. But I understand that obviously you get to a point with the asphalt where it becomes kind of a safety concern.”
WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN AT THIS TRACK THAT GIVES YOU A SIGN IT’S TIME TO REPAVE? “I honestly couldn’t answer you that. You’d have to talk to somebody from the race track. But, you hear that things are starting to shift and move and you can’t keep the asphalt attached to the ground, so you’ve got to do something. I’m not an expert on that so I couldn’t answer that one honestly.”
WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOUR CAR AND YOUR TEAM THAT ENABLES YOU TO MAKE A CHARGE LATE IN THE RACES? “I think for us it’s just sometimes we don’t qualify great and that’s just kind of been a characteristic of mine, really throughout my whole career. And these races are long so there’s really a lot of time to get your car right and we’re able to do the things that we need to do to do that. So it’s a long race and no reason to get in a hurry.”
DO YOU GIVE CREDIT TO (CREW CHIEF) GIL MARTIN FOR THE CHANGES DURING THE RACE? “Yeah, they do a really good job with the changes to the car to be able to get the handling where it needs to be. Usually by half-way we’re close to where we need to be on set-up and we can let our pit crew strategy do things that it needs to in order to get the rest of the way up there.”
HOW NICE IS IT TO BE OFF PROBATION? ARE YOU GOING TO RACE ANY DIFFERENTLY THAN YOU DID THE LAST FIVE RACES? “You know obviously the probation ties your hands a little bit on certain things, but you have to go out and you still go out and you race as hard as you can and do the things that you need to do. And I’m going to just keep doing most of the same things that we’ve been doing and just keep racing hard.”
LAST WEEK YOU SAID KYLE BUSCH HAS ONE COMING. DO YOU WANT TO GIVE US A PREDICTION OF WHEN THAT TIME WILL BE (LAUGHTER)? “A lot of these things, you go out on the race track and things happen and you do what you think is right at the right time.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR. HAS HAD A LONG WINLESS STREAK; YOU HAD A LONG WINDLESS STREAK. HOW MUCH DOES THAT WEIGH ON YOUR MIND AS IT CONTINUES TO BUILD? “I think when you’re running as good as those guys are running, I think you start to get a little bit antsy because you know that the win is right around the corner. You just want it to go away, honestly. And even though your car is running good every week, there is still something to be said about putting all that talk to bed because you just get tired of talking about it. And you get frustrated with not being able to just get it over with. But when you’re running that good, it gives you a lot of confidence in knowing that you’re competitive and then you can put it all into perspective. 2009 was a terrible year for us. I know he’s been through a year or two of stuff that wasn’t that much fun. So you can kind of balance the not-winning part of it when you’re running good with the running good part of it just for the fact that you’re competitive week-in and week-out and you’re in position to win races. And when you’re not in position to win and you don’t have a chance to do anything right and you’re tearing stuff up and you’re running in the middle of the pack, it’s just miserable. So you can balance the not-winning part of it somewhat, with being competitive every week.”
TWICE THIS YEAR YOU KIND OF APOLOGIZED TO HIM IN VICTORY LANE; AND EMPHASIZING WITH HIM A LITTLE BIT “Yeah, there’s not a person in this garage that doesn’t want to see Dale in victory lane. And for us, we’ve been through some scenarios like that but the one thing I’m glad that I personally don’t have to go through is the criticism and the things that he has to deal with on a weekly basis. I know he does a lot better job of dealing with them than I would; and part of that is probably because he’s been around it and in that position for so long. But you can’t even put into perspective what he has to deal with on a week-to-week basis as far as the criticism and the fans and answering these questions in a respectful way every week. So for that part, you have to give him a lot of credit.”
... for us it’s a weekly challenge to understand how far to push it.
KYLE BUSCH SAID THAT HIS CAR BROKE A SPRING LAST WEEK AND THAT’S WHY THEY WERE TOO LOW IN THE LEFT FRONT (POST RACE INSPECTION). AS A RACER DO YOU BUY THAT? DO THINGS JUST HAPPEN TO CAUSE YOU TO BE TOO LOW? “A lot of times things happen. I heard Denny (Hamlin) after the race; I heard his interview talking about failed bump-stops. So I would venture to say it was a failed bump-stop more than a failed spring if I was a betting man. But that’s just my opinion.”
COMPARED TO THE GEAR PENALTY THAT RON HORNADAY HAD A FEW WEEKS AGO, IS IT APPROPRIATE THAT THERE IS THAT TYPE OF DISCREPANCY? “You know the penalty on the No. 33 truck in my opinion was something that you would relate to as an engine being too big or messing with the fuel or the tires. I think that’s a much bigger deal than dealing with a spring or a height issue. As long as the six points; it seems so little, but I guess when you put it into perspective I have a hard time knowing exactly what the penalties are supposed to be. But as long as they’re consistent, I don’t have an issue with it.”
YOU HAVE THREE WINS THIS YEAR SO FAR, MORE THAN ANYBODY. ARE YOU WILLING TO GAMBLE MAYBE A LITTLE MORE NOW? “We talk about it every week. We want to try to gain the most bonus points that we can and the only way you’re going to do that…. Very few times this year have you seen the dominant car win the race. And I couldn’t stand here and tell you the time that the dominant car actually won the race. So for me, these races are coming down to taking chances and strategy and in order to win these races you’re going to have to take those chances. So, for us it’s a weekly challenge to understand how far to push it. I think we have to be willing to do that. We talk about it every week.”
WHY IS TRACK POSITION SUDDENLY SO MORE IMPORTANT? “You know, and this is no knock on anybody or anything, I think the tires have been really good but it just seems like sometimes the tires dictate some of that as far as where the line is on the race track and where you can go. I think track position is also, that’s just one factor that could contribute to it. I’m not saying it is or isn’t. It could be a contributing factor. I don’t think anybody knows for sure but the other thing that comes to mind is just the fact that the cars are so competitive and close to each other it just makes it hard to pass when everybody is so competitive. So, those are the two things that just pop into my mind if I had to just pick two.”
ON GOING TO SONOMA NEXT WEEK, DOES IT BEING IN CALIFORNIA MAKE IT SEEM LIKE A HOME RACE TO YOU? “Oh, we definitely have a lot of friends and people that come to support us at the race track so it’s fun to see that. Road racing to me is a lot of fun. I think I ran my first race at Sonoma in the SouthWest Tour car in 1995. So it’s always fun to go back to a race track where you’ve had those experiences so early in your career. It’s a fun place to race and I really enjoy going out there.”
...our main focus is racing for the championship.
YOU MENTIONED THE BEST CAR NOT ALWAYS WINNING THE RACE. A LOT OF THE RACES SEEM TO BE COMING DOWN TO FUEL MILEAGE. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO GOING IN OR DO YOU JUST HAVE TO REACT? “I think you just kind of have to react as to how the race is playing out and where you’re at for that particular day as far as your fuel mileage and how competitive your car is on that particular day and you just have to make those decisions well before the last run. You have to put yourself in position with two or three runs to go in the race and have it on your mind. So you can kind of see the way the race is starting to play out and where everything is at. It’s interesting. Like I said earlier, you have to be willing to gamble to win these races right now and all the cars are so competitive. You look at Darlington and Dover and Charlotte and all these races where you still have to have a competitive car but it seems like so many cars are competitive that once they get to where they need to be, they can race for the wins too. You’ve got to be willing to take some chances.”
HOW BIG OF A FACTOR IS THE NEW GAS CAN? OR IS IT SOMETHING YOU’RE EVEN CONSCIOUS OF DURING A PIT STOP? “We have a couple of little things that really help the gasman. Our guys have done a great job from the beginning of making sure; they did their homework over the winter I guess you could say, in what they needed to do and the details that needed to be paid attention to. Our gasman has done a great job. But really, he’s the one who holds the keys to the whole pit stop and a lot of the day sometimes. You’ve seen a lot of races lost this year by the gasman not getting the car full of gas. It’s very easy to not get the car full and make a mistake.”
DOES THIS BACK & FORTH THING YOU’VE HAD WITH KYLE BUSCH HAVE TO END ONCE THE CHASE STARTS? YOU CAN RISK POINTS NOW COMPARED TO LATER. “I think for us, our main focus is racing for the championship. You have to do what’s right for your race team and sometimes it works that way and sometimes it doesn’t. So it’s all in what’s right for my team at that particular moment to try to put ourselves in the best position to try to be competitive for the championship.”
-source: team chevy