KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed the incident and penalties from last week at Darlington, the All-Star and Coca-Cola 600 races coming up, sponsorships and more.
TALK TO US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR WEEK COMING INTO DOVER. “Yeah, I’ve had a pretty calm week actually. Played golf a few times and just relaxed. Pretty normal week.”
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE UPCOMING ALL-STAR RACE, ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT GOING INTO CHARLOTTE NEXT WEEK? “Yeah, the All-Star week is always a lot of fun. The crew guys are a big part of All-Star weekend with all the pit stop competitions and their a big part of the race so it’s an important week for us just to kind of see what we have to head to the 600 with and really evaluate the performance of the race car on the race track a week before the race. It’s a fun week and a lot of money on the line. I guess it’s a really good paying test session but it’s a lot of fun too.”
Well I mean the meeting was just basically NASCAR explaining how probation works and how we need to stay away from everybody basically and each other.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE MEETING YOU HAD YESTERDAY AND TONY STEWART MADE A COMMENT THAT MAYBE THEY SHOULD OUTLINE THE RULES MORE SPECIFICALLY ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU GUYS CAN HAVE AT IT? “Well I mean the meeting was just basically NASCAR explaining how probation works and how we need to stay away from everybody basically and each other. So that was basically the jest of the meeting. I think as far as you talk about the Tony Stewart comment, I think for me it’s definitely to the point where it’s a little bit confusing with how it all works. I think when you look at the boys have it theme, it’s obviously changing as we go through the process. I think when you go back and you look at the very first major incident that you saw on the race track, I guess it would be Carl (Edwards) and (Brad) Keselowski in Atlanta and you saw the car go upside down. Carl was parked for hooking him in the right rear quarter panel and then it happened again and you see a lot of people coming out of the pits and retaliating and sometimes it’s a one-lap penalty and sometimes you are parked for the race and sometimes you look at the Keselowski and Hamlin thing at Homestead so there’s a lot of different things happening. I understand that it’s evolving but from a drivers standpoint you don’t really 100 percent understand how it works. Last week they stressed a lot to me that the penalties were for pit road violations after the race and the jeopardy that it put everybody in after the race and I understand that part. Yesterday it was all about being on probation and on the race track. So just a little bit confused about that. Nobody really had any clarification as to what we were supposed to do and not supposed to do other than we are on probation for four weeks and now it’s a penalty on the race track. I don’t really know if it was a penalty for the race track because we saw the same right-rear hook and obviously there was a lot that led up to that lap. I felt that Kyle (Busch) got into my door. I ran him down on the back straightaway. I got into him in (turn) three and we got three wide. Yesterday Kyle’s explanation was he had a flat tire and hooked me on the straightaway. It’s kind of one lie after the other and you see everything that happened after the race and for me the way that I was brought up and taught to race, when you hook somebody in the right-rear quarter panel that’s the equivalent of throwing your gloves off in hockey. That’s the point where everybody has reached the boiling point and basically the only answer I get out of Kyle is I’m a race car driver not a fighter but if you drive like that you’re gonna have to learn how to take care of yourself. It’s just a lot that went through the mind and for me it’s done and over with and we’ll move on. Just a lot of questions I think more than answers were a part of this week.”
HOW SPECIFIC DO YOU WANT IT TO BE? “Well, there just has to be consistency. I can race either way. We can flip each other over. I don’t mind wrecking. I don’t mind getting wrecked. I don’t mind eye for an eye. I don’t mind any of that but just tell me what the rules are. Explain to me what the penalty is if you are going to hook somebody in the middle of the straightaway, if you are going to spin them out, if you are going to retaliate, what is the penalty? Tell me what the penalty is. A consistent answer.”
YOU’VE BEEN ABLE WITH KHI TO PUT TOGETHER A WHOLE VARIETY OF DEALS FROM COMPANIES IN BOTH TRUCKS AND NATIONWIDE, WHAT HAS MADE YOUR ORGANIZATION ATTRACTIVE TO SPONSORS AT A TIME WHEN THE ENVIRONMENT FOR SPONSORSHIPS IS STILL REALLY TIGHT AND DO YOU LOOK AT GROWING YOUR BUSINESS DOWN THE ROAD? “I think the unique part about everything that we have is, we have a great relationship with RCR and I think that sponsorship stuff has carried over into the Cup series as well. Obviously we put Budweiser, Jimmy Johns and Rheem on the car and there’s only a couple of fill-in races that we have left so that’s basically rebuilt a whole Cup program in the off-season until this point. I think the unique part about it is we have Truck Series programs, we have Nationwide programs and we have a Cup program and you can fulfill a lot of the sponsors needs in any part of it. We can use the RCR piece of it, RCR can use our Nationwide and Truck piece of it and there’s just so many different dimensions, elements that come with each piece of the sponsorship that you have to be creative and you have to go outside the box and you have to take a chance on a new sponsors coming in. I use Rheem as an example. They were an associate sponsor on my Cup car and they came in and did five races on the Nationwide car. Now they’re virtually the whole sponsorship and they’re moving up to Cup. Jimmy Johns was the same way so you just have to take the time to make sure the sponsor is having fun, making sure they are getting a return on their investment and its working for them and you have to perform on the race track but really in the end performance on the race track is a bonus. It’s really about making sure they are getting everything they need.”
KYLE CALLED YOUR RACING UNCALLED FOR AND UNEXCEPTABLE, IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU THOUGHT YOU DID LAST WEEK THAT FITS THAT DEFINITION AND HOW DO YOU RACE HIM GOING FORWARD? “Well I think when you look – after I got the I hooked you after I got a flat tire comment yesterday, the incident started off of turn two. We came off of turn two, I was driving straight behind the car in front of me. We can talk about being three feet off the wall or whatever, but I was directly behind the car in front of me coming up off the corner and at the time I didn’t even know it was the No. 18. The car hit me in the door and as soon as he hit me in the door I drove it to the left, we got to the other end, I let it go and ran into the back of him and ran him up the race track, took the position back. At that moment we got three wide and there wasn’t really a lot of room and things happened and he hooked me on the straightaway. Look the wrecking doesn’t bother me but the only thing that bothers me is the right-rear quarter panel because in my mind I know what that means. I don’t mind getting wrecked back. If you think it’s a payback for Homestead that’s fine. Those parts don’t bother me, I understand how it all works but when you throw them off its time to handle it.”
A LOT WAS TALKED ABOUT THAT THE PENALTIES WERE SUPPOSEDLY FOR WHAT TRANSPIRED AFTER THE RACE, BUT IS THAT REALLY FAIR ON THE DRIVERS PART BECAUSE AREN’T THE THINGS THAT LEAD UP TO WHAT TAKE PLACE AFTER THE RACE A DIRECT RESULT OF WHAT HAPPENS IN THE RACE. CAN YOU JUST TALK ABOUT HOW DIFFICULT IT IS? “For me I didn’t use my car as a ram or dry to make a point with running into somebody on the race track or knocking them out of the way after the race, I didn’t do any of that stuff after the race. I wanted to handle it so that the guys didn’t have to do more work than they already did. The bottom line is I know there are changes this week with the officials and how they are going to approach things after the race, but I mean there was a split screen on TV, there were no NASCAR officials in sight and they got what they wanted and in the end you suffer the penalty for what it’s supposed to be on pit road but has carried over to the race track now when it was stressed to me in the hauler after the race and when I received my penalty on Tuesday it was stressed to me it was for the pit road. So it just doesn’t make sense to me. But it is what it is. It’s not like I can do anything about it. I’m not complaining about it, I just want to understand it. I don’t understand it. I’m not going to lose sleep over it. I’m going to move forward and it’s done and over with. I don’t want to be the nice guy that has to understand why the penalties are ramping up like they used to be.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT DOVER A LITTLE BIT AND THE CHALLENGES IT PRESENTS TO YOU AND YOUR RACE TEAM? “I think for us, as a driver it’s a fun race track because you can be really, really aggressive as far as how you drive the track and how you charge the corners and how you do things. It’s a track where you have to be able to stay in the throttle up off the corner to keep your car from pushing, but you have to keep the forward drive underneath the car. So it’s a challenging race track to drive fast and when you’re off you’re in the way so there’s really no place you can hide here.”
... it’s a challenging race track to drive fast and when you’re off you’re in the way so there’s really no place you can hide here.
WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT WANTING TO UNDERSTAND, DO YOU FEEL LIKE NASCAR NEEDS TO GO MORE BLACK AND WHITE LIKE IN OTHER SPORTS? “It can’t be for a certain circumstance and how you wake up in the morning as to how you think it needs to be treated. There has to be some guidelines on where it all is. You here the upper brass talk about wanting to do things more like the NFL or this or that, but you have to be consistent in order to do that.”
WHEN YOU LOOK AT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH KYLE BUSCH AND YOU’RE COMPETING ACROSS ALL THREE SERIES, WHAT WOULD BE THE IDEAL SCENARIO FOR YOU? “I guess I don’t understand that question.”
AS FAR AS YOU TWO GETTING ALONG, WHAT WOULD BE THE IDEAL SCENARIO? “That probably won’t ever happen.”
THE COCA-COLA 600, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE LENGTH OF THAT RACE, HOW MUCH YOU HAVE TO ADJUST THE RACE CAR THROUGHOUT THE RACE GOING FROM AFTERNOON TO NIGHT, ANYTHING THAT REALLY RELATES TO HOW LONG THAT RACE IS AND HOW MUCH TIME YOU HAVE TO WORK ON YOUR RACE CAR, OR HOW MUCH TIME YOU MAY HAVE TO DIAL YOUR RACE CAR OUT IF YOU’RE GOOD AT THE START? “You can definitely do it either way. You can make it better or you can dial yourself way out. I’ve been a part of that race several times where you start the race really good and by the times its dark you are in big trouble. So you definitely have to have some past history as far as what the race track does and that’s one reason why the All-Star race is so important. Just for the fact that everything you do in that race is at night and the 600 is going to end at night so you kind of have to take what happens at the All-Star race and then what you do in the day time practices and mix those two together and rely on a lot of past notes and things to try to have a set up that’s adjustable. And you have to make a lot of adjustments during the race just out of past theories and past experiences. If your car is not doing something and its getting dark rapidly you are going to have to make a change on the fly without your car doing something. You are just going to have to trust it’s the right change and just make it if the time is right as far as the sun going down and when the darkness is coming.”
DESPITE THE FACT HAT YOU GUYS ARE ON PROBATION SHOULDN’T THERE BE A DISCONSATION FOR THE ALL-STAR RACE SINCE THAT’S THE ULTIMATE BOYS HAVE IT EVENT? “You know that’s a question that Mike Helton or somebody will have to answer. I don’t have the answer to that as far as what the rules are for that race. I don’t have the answer for that.”
HOW DO YOU RACE KYLE BUSCH GOING FORWARD AND DOES THIS ALSO IMPACT HOW YOU RACE EVERYBODY ELSE. “It definitely affects how you race for the next four weeks. We got the ultimatum yesterday of the explanation of how probation worked and how NASCAR expected us to race on the race track was put to us very clear yesterday. I think the way that the next four weeks go was basically dictated to us yesterday in the NASCAR trailer.”
CAN YOU GIVE US THE READER’S DIGEST VERSION OF HOW PROBATION WORKS? ALSO CAN YOU ADDRESS THE FACT THAT WHY THE NO. 29 TEAM CAME OUT TO DEFEND YOU THE 18 TEAM WAS NO WHERE IN SIGHT TO BACK UP THEIR DRIVER? “Obviously I’ve got a bunch of guys that are just a great bunch of guys. We all get along. We all have the same approach to how we like to see things, what we think is fair and what we think is not fair. There isn’t a guy on that team that wouldn’t lay under a bus for the next guy. That really happened last year as we went through the year. It’s something that you just don’t find very often and this is a bunch of guys that I consider friends and I think they consider themselves all friends. Them running up pit road is not a surprise to me. I think they would back me whether I was right or wrong, they are going to back me up and I will do the same for them. That’s the great part about our team. The No. 18 team not backing him up, I mean when you don’t have a backbone how do you back someone up?”
DOVER, CHARLOTTE, KANSAS, THE NEXT THREE RACES ARE ALL THREE RACES THAT ARE IN THE CHASE, YOU’RE NOT LOCKED IN BUT YOUR PROBABLY AS COMFORTABLE OR MORE COMFORTABLE THAN ANYONE ELSE WITH THE WINS AND YOUR STANDING IN THE POINTS, HOW DO YOU APPROACH THESE THREE RACES? “I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. I think over the past few weeks we’ve been able to try things that we wouldn’t have tried in the past. We struck out at Richmond on what we tried. I think Darlington was a huge success for us as far as the way the race track performance was and hopefully that bleeds over into Charlotte. This week is a little bit different than some of the race tracks because of the type of race track that you are racing on. These are important weeks. Dover is in the Chase, Charlotte is in the Chase, just to kind of zero in on what exactly you need when it comes time toward the end of the year. So we’re shooting for better set-ups and more wins. That’s basically where we are at right now points wise.”
NASCAR YESTERDAY SEEMED TO SAY THAT IF ONE PERSON REALLY PRESSES THE ISSUE THAT’S ITS MORE COMPLICATED THAN BEING ABLE TO LINE UP A MENU OF PENALTIES AND THAT IS ONE PERSON REALLY PUSHES IT, IT WOULD KIND OF BE DETRIMENTALTO THE SPORT TO HAVE EVERYTHING LAID OUT IN FRONT OF YOU, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? “I have a lot of experience of this in the past so I’ll reference the past, as things ramp up and you get in trouble the first time it’s best to just not get in trouble again because you’re gonna be the poster child to either change this process to make it more clear and see the fines ramp back up or you’re going to be the guy that shows it’s not really going to change. I just don’t think for us it’s not going to be the smartest thing in the world to be that next guy. I don’t know if you are referring to, are you referring to me or the No. 42 and No. 39, I don’t know which one you are referring to but there are just a lot of different elements to the whole thing that are happening right now that are confusing to the drivers.”
-source: team chevy