Brickyard 400 Press Conference Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003 Part 2 of 2. Q: After leading early in the race, then when Tony kind of took over and started running away, were you content to stay up in the top five just...
Brickyard 400 Press Conference
Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress
Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003
Part 2 of 2.
Q: After leading early in the race, then when Tony kind of took over and started running away, were you content to stay up in the top five just so that you would be in a position later to make a move rather than burn it up like maybe Tony did on his setup?
Harvick: You know, I wasn't going to fight him too hard because the more you fight him at the beginning of the race, the more people you get involved in the race, the further you get behind. With Ryan and Tony and Bill there at the beginning, I was content to do what I had to do to think about what we needed to do to our car to make it better. We've said all weekend that we need to make sure that we put ourselves in position and have our car the best we've had it all weekend on the last run. Fortunately, our car was by far the best it had been all day. And the weather was cooling down, pretty much played how we needed it to play. Track position worked itself out perfect. All the pit stops were good, came at the right time with the yellows. So it was just -- everything just clicked.
Q: Ricky Rudd in '97, you don't just show up at this place and get lucky and win. It takes almost like a planning. What all went into this winning this race, RC?
Childress: I think a lot of testing, a lot of development in our engine shop. Todd Berrier, he's just a brilliant young man, working with our engineering group, our fab shop. You know, if you have a driver that can get the job done like Kevin, we got to do our job. Took a lot of hard work just to get us back to where we've been the last, like Kevin said earlier, we've been in contention to win for the last seven or eight weeks. If you stay in contention to win, you're going to win a race. We kept saying, "We know if we can stay in contention." That's the key. If you can stay there and get the consistency, you're going to win your share of races. And this won't be the last one he'll win, either.
Q: Was this a particular goal you set in May?
Harvick: It's a goal every year.
Childress: To come here and to win this race or the Daytona 500, that's probably the two biggest races in all of motorsports, especially in NASCAR. And to win one of these events, been fortunate to win them, this will go down as one of our special wins forever in our careers.
Harvick: Not going to take our car?
Childress: No, we're going to keep racing that baby.
Harvick: I think the tire did that (laughter).
Q: Along that line, Kevin, after you left your mark literally on the track out there, what happened with the tire and the fender? What was the push like afterward?
Harvick: I would have just drove it down Victory Lane, but they had it all blocked -- I mean, pit lane to Victory Lane, but they had it all blocked. Heck, man, if you're going to win here, you might as well leave your mark. You might not every get another chance. I said, "I need to leave some rubber on the bricks, make sure everybody leaves here happy with a little tire smoke in their hair." Just a lot of fun. I tried not to tear it up too bad.
Q: Kevin, you said you were surprised that the 20 car had to pit again. When he led all those laps in the beginning, did you think it was going to come down to you and him at the end?
Harvick: I really thought the 42 and the 20 were the cars to beat. You never know where your car's going to be after you make a pit stop. Our car, like I say, we made it better every run, every time we got an opportunity to adjust on it, it was a positive. I mean, my jaw just hit the floor when I saw the 20. I'm positive that he didn't need to pit. So, I mean, they pretty much gave all the chances they had away, and that was it.
Q: In the grand scheme of things, you talked about the picture that you got of Rick Mears, 10, 11-year-old kid. You go from there to what you had to go through when you took over this ride, now you've won at the Brickyard. Is this one of your pinch yourself kind of moments where you have to look at the whole scope of your life and say, "How did I get here?"
Harvick: That's for sure. I mean, how did I get here? I wish somebody could tell me. I mean, it's just really hard to put into words, I mean. I know how much it means to me. I know it means a lot to these guys, too. But just growing up, you know, obviously an open-wheel fan, to know what it meant to win this race, Indy 500, in an Indy car, you know, means a lot to me. It means a lot to this race team. But I think for me personally, it's something that you put a star beside this one every year, and you put a star beside the Daytona 500, a bigger star than you would on the rest of the races, just for the fact that it's bigger. It's bigger, it's just bigger in all ways. There's nothing that's not bigger about even just racing at the Brickyard. You know, if we'd have finished third, heck, it would have still been a great weekend. We sat on the pole at the Brickyard. To come back and win the race is just unbelievable.
Q: Obviously two very different kinds of race cars, but still a track that's very contrary for any crew and team. Rick was very regular around here. He said you spend the first half of the 500 getting your car right, and the second half you go on and try to win the race. When you decided to settle in right after the start today, was it just a natural way of doing things or did Rick Mears' overall thoughts about this place kind of help you to be patient?
Harvick: Well, I think our game plan from the beginning was, you know, we needed to lead a lap, we needed the five points. If our car was really good at the beginning, we needed to lead all we could. Once Tony and those guys came up to challenge us, there's just not any reason to fight them at that stage in the race because you know you can make your car better. There's no reason to get yourself eight or 10 seconds further behind than you need to be. Just let them go and do what you need to do to make your car right. You can race the hell out of them at the end. That's what we wanted to do. Like I say, the biggest thing we did today was make our car better on every pit stop. That's what did the most for us once we got out in the front. Like I say, I mean, I ran the first 10 laps as hard as I could -- seven laps as hard as I could run. The last five, I just put it on cruise control and just kind of did what we had to do.
Q: Kevin, you said yesterday that you wanted to be an open-wheel driver, but your dad forced you into stock cars. Talk about that decision now and what it means, I guess.
Harvick: Well, I think it means I never got to do what I wanted to do (laughter). But I didn't know what was right or wrong at that point in my life. Still don't, for that matter. You know, my dad was smart enough to understand that at that point in time stock car racing was going up, and open-wheel racing was kind of hitting a plateau and settling down, and didn't really know where it was going. He just didn't want me to get hurt was probably the biggest reason. He didn't want me to drive midgets, he didn't want me to drive Formula Fords or anything like that. We didn't have any money to do anything, and basically he spent a year and a half building my first car from all the pieces and parts that everybody else didn't want. We still managed to figure out how to win with that. Scraped and scrounged through the years in late model cars, up through the Southwest Tour, things like that. Right now I'd say it was probably a good decision on his part.
Q: The teamwork, unknowingly really Robby kind of helped. I don't know if that was planned teamwork, but it worked out that way, that he held off some people behind him. Earlier I asked Richard to also say your thoughts when you started kissing the bricks, jumping on the fence.
Harvick: She asked you about the bricks. I think the part about Robby, you know, I was mad after Sears Point. But you still have to understand, and I think the main thing that he and I understood was, you know, we can be mad at each other because we're racers. Both of us race very hard and want to win every time we go out on the racetrack. You know, for the most part, I'll get over it. He won Sears Point. That really brought the morale of all three race teams up, the whole company up. Today he came back and helped me. So, you know, for the most part, on my end, you just have to be done and over with it and just really understand that he did all he could for the company and myself today, and I need to remember that the next time he's out there winning a race. It's all about what's the best for all those people working on the cars because they are the heartbeat of what happens. If they're fussing and fighting over something that he and I did, it won't work. So we got to make sure that all those guys are getting along and trading notes and doing the things they need to do in the shop.
Q: Richard, watching the guys kissing the bricks, they jump up and climb on the fence, what were y'all thinking?
Childress: I thought it was great. I've never had a cold kiss like that that felt so good (laughter). And I did it three times - even three times better. It was special to see those guys. I mean, I know you guys are around the racetrack, but the sacrifice that these crew members and the sacrifice that everybody makes in this sport, from their family, to their wives, to theirself, that's what it's all about, was watching those guys jump up there today and get on that fence and just getting the calls we've had this evening, be able to go back and see the families, everybody at work, from the guy that sweeps the floors to the guys that are in our engineering group, whoever, you know. It's just special. It takes special people in a sport to do it. I'm fortunate to be surrounded with so many special people.
Moderator: Hard to top that quote. Richard, Kevin, congratulations.