KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Kentucky Speedway and discussed the fuel injection and other testing today, having a new venue on the Cup Series schedule, moving Nationwide Series to the Brickyard and other topics.
TALK ABOUT COMING TO KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY FOR THE CUP SERIES: “This is what our sport needs, new events, not necessarily new facilities, but a new facility for us to race on. Kentucky Speedway has been a great facility over the years. I was fortunate enough to come here in 2001 and win the inaugural Nationwide race here, so, it is a place we have all been to and made a bunch of laps testing. A lot of us have run the Nationwide races here. It is a fun race track. The enthusiasm from the fans and the people and the sponsors is great. I’m excited about it. Looking forward to getting the weekend started.”
TALK ABOUT THE TEST SESSION TODAY: “There are a lot of different things happening today. We were fortunate enough to do the tire test here about a month ago. I feel like our team has a good starting spot for setups and seven-post testing and all the data we have collected there to get a good start here to the day. With the fuel injection being on the track, we’ve obviously had it on the track several times, but to come here and see all the manufacturers have it on the track, this is a huge step for our sport to make the cars relevant with what’s on the street. It is huge for the manufacturers to have that. Looking forward to seeing how all of that goes. I know there are some new processes and some new things that go with that. It is just a big day for our sport in general with coming to Kentucky Speedway, we’ve got fuel injection. We’ve got a lot of enthusiasm around a lot of things. I am looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.”
IT HAS BEEN AWHILE SINCE WE HAVE HAD A NEW TRACK ON THE CUP SCHEDULE AND PEOPLE HAVE TESTED HERE FOR SEVERAL YEARS, BUT WITH THIS BEING THE FIRST CUP RACE HERE, WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THAT PRESENT A TEAM? “For us, you still don’t know, the thing you are never going to know until the race starts, is how the race is going to play out. How the cars are going to really react after being in traffic; after 300 or 400 miles where you balance in the car going to be. We are still really not going to practice in race temperatures and conditions, so there is really no way to tell exactly how it’s all going to shake out until the race is over and you get in that race and see how things are going to play out. We have our notebooks from Nationwide stuff and Truck stuff and think we have a good idea of where the race track will go once it gets really dark. After watching Truck practice last night, as soon as the sun went behind the grandstands, the speed picked up two or three tenths. The speeds this morning are another half-of-a-second faster. It’s obviously a very temperature sensitive race track and you have to keep that in the back of your mind while you are testing in the middle of the afternoon here. Still a lot of things you won’t be able to figure out until the race is over.”
FROM AN OWNER’S PERSPECTIVE CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE MOVE OF THE NATIONWIDE SERIES FROM ORP SHORT TRACK TO THE BIG TRACK, IMS IN INDIANAPOLIS? “ORP has been a huge part of the series up until this point. I think when you look at the opportunity to go to the Brickyard with the Nationwide Series, that is an opportunity that probably hasn’t been there like it’s going to be. It hasn’t been there in the past like it is going to be from an owner’s standpoint. You don’t have to put somebody else in your car if you aren’t racing for a driver’s championship. You would love to see it get worked out to have the Truck Series stay there, or have the ARCA Series come there. When you have the opportunity to go to the Brickyard and we can put our normal drivers in there and you can sell the sponsorship. That has always been a tough race to sell. You just have a lot of opportunities that are going to be new. The enthusiasm is going to be up. It is going to be a new venue for the Nationwide Series. It is going to be new for the fans. There are going to be a lot of new things that go with that. It is no different than coming here. The enthusiasm is up. Change is good. I have been preaching that we needed to go to different race tracks for a long time because you can see, the enthusiasm and the excitement and the publicity and everything that comes with a new venue; that lasts for several years. I hate to see ORP go, but, things change. This is no different than any other business, you have to keep up with the times.”
YOU WON THE FIRST NATIONWIDE RACE HERE AND THE FIRST CUP RACE AT CHICAGO, ARE THOSE WINS MORE SPECIAL THAN OTHER WINS? “I think everybody wants to win the first one. You can’t ever do that twice. Every year that you go back you are always going to have another chance. But, yes, there is really no bigger event than the first event you are going to have at a particular race track. So, it is just a little added bonus that you can put next to that particular race and say that you won the inaugural one. We’ve been fortunate enough to win a couple of them and it is always fun.”
IS YOUR EFFORT WITH ELLIOTT SADLER IN NATIONWIDE A DEPARTURE FROM YOUR PREVIOUS THINKING TO HAVE ONE DRIVER RUN FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP IN THE SERIES RATHER THAN ROTATE DRIVERS? “We tried that before and we tried it with a young driver. In the past, the opportunities haven’t presented themselves with an experienced driver and been able to sell it with sponsorship. That’s the biggest problem that we have is selling the sponsorship to put guys behind the wheel. For me, I get frustrated sometimes with the process that it takes to put a young driver through, to go through all the torn-up race cars and the inexperience and the things that come with that. If the sponsorships were there to go through those processes and everybody was patient with it, but I know how it works. The sponsor is not going to be patient with a young guy not running up front and tearing up stuff and being really inconsistent, that just isn’t going to fly in these times right now.”
“A lot of bumps, that’s not a bad thing. Character is good in a race track.
WHAT IS GOING TO BE THE FOCUS OF TEAMS TODAY? “I think it is going to give you the opportunity to try a lot of things. You won’t see guys just in and out of the garage run after run after run trying to get as many runs in as they can. You can afford to take your time to change big items and still get on the race track and check those things off the list.
I think you’ll see more of a check list today because, like I said, most of the teams and all the manufacturers had somebody here so you have the data for your seven-post to be able to put the cars on the seven-post. I’d say there are very few teams that didn’t have the data from the tire test. It just gives you the opportunity to try things that wouldn’t get to try on a normal race weekend. It is going to apply to all the different race tracks. This race is a little bit unique because it is so rough and the corners are a little bit different shaped than a lot of places that we go. There are still a lot of things that will apply and we will be able to have the time to try today.”
WHEN YOU WERE HERE 10 YEARS AGO DID YOU THINK THIS VENUE WAS CUP WORTHY THEN? “It was definitely Cup worthy then. Just obviously there are a lot of things that have to play out in this particular sport to make dates work and things are planned so many years in advance. When you do have a new facility I think everybody wants to see if it’s able to keep bringing the fans in and keep the longevity of that particular facility has to be proven to get to this level of a race. It’s great to see here. I know it took 10 years but it’s here.”
ARE THERE ANY CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS TRACK THAT MAKE IT DIFFERENT THAN THE OTHER 1.5-MILE TRACKS? “A lot of bumps, that’s not a bad thing. Character is good in a race track. It’s been ground in a lot of places. The corners are shaped different. There’s really no comparison to a Chicago or a Kansas or anything like that just because of the shapes of the corners. It’s definitely got its own characteristics.”
HOW ARE THE DRIVERS GOING TO BE PREPARING FOR THE NEW SHIFT TO FUEL INJECTION AND ARE THE TEAMS ALREADY STARTING TO PREPARE FOR THE SHIFT? “You know we’re fortunate to have ECR Engines in our vehicles and they have done a lot of the sports car engines for the last year and a half, so they’ve been working really hard on the fuel injection side of it to make sure they understand the things that they are doing and General Motors has been a huge part of getting everybody up to speed at ECR. It’s been worked on for a year and a half now. From a driver’s perspective, I’m not even going to drive the car today unless Richard makes me because it really doesn’t matter what it feels like or what it does. When you switch to it, you drive it every week and you adapt to whatever those characteristics are and after a while you forget it’s even in there and it just goes away. I know they are going to put a lot of laps on it, but I don’t have any plans to drive it.”
YOU MENTIONED THAT THIS TRACK HAS A LOT OF BUMPS AND YOU LIKE THAT, HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT HANDLING THE BUMPS AT A PLACE LIKE HERE? “Well you’ll make enough laps today to know exactly where they all are. The majority of the bumps are down the front straightaway. There are some bumps in the corners, but the front straightaway has the majority of them. You’ve got to keep the front splitter on the nose off the ground otherwise the car will start hitting the ground and not be able to turn like it needs to be. It’s just a few different things that you have to do to keep the car off the ground aside from what you would do at some other places.”
RECEIVED AN EMAIL YESTERDAY SAYING INDIANPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY IS HALLOWED GROUND AND THE NATIONWIDE CARS SHOULDN’T BE THERE, THE CUP CARS HAD TO EARN THERE RIGHT TO GO THERE WAS A BIG DEAL, DO YOU SEE THAT AS BEING RELEVANT AT ALL? “I see our biggest facility as Daytona and all of our series run there so what makes Indianapolis any more special than Daytona Speedway, that’s the way I look at it. So if our cars are good enough to run on the Daytona International Speedway, they’re plenty good enough to run at the Brickyard.”
IN TERMS IN YOUR NATIONWIDE AND TRUCK TEAMS BEING AN OWNER FOR A WHILE, WHAT’S THE BIGGEST THING YOU’VE LEARNED OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS AND HOW MUCH HELP HAS RICHARD GIVEN YOU? “Well first off if it wasn’t for Richard’s flexibility and willingness to let us have the teams, we wouldn’t even be a possibility. Richard has been a big part of what we do. We work as close now together as the two companies ever have and I think that makes life a lot easier between the two of us and really helps both sides function better. I think the biggest thing he’s taught me is the politics of the sport. How NASCAR works. You see a lot of different things from the ownership side of it that you can relate to my boss as to how expensive things are, how long it takes to put a change in the process when you have multiple teams and hundreds of people working. You can flip a switch and say we need to do this, but when you are way off like we were in 2009 that stuff just doesn’t get fixed over night, it costs millions of dollars to get it straightened out and thousands and thousands of man hours to get everything situated. Just helped me relate to everybody who is either a team owner or is a part of running this sport. I still don’t agree with a lot of things that happen but I understand because I see the decisions you have to make in our company and sometimes people don’t like them but that’s what you think is right and when you’re in charge and somebody is in charge on the NASCAR side they make a decision, it’s not based on two or three people’s opinions, it’s based on what they think is best for your company or your sport or whatever the situation may be.”
AT RCR YOU’VE NOW GONE TO FOUR CARS, HAS THT AFFECTED YOU ANY AND ARE YOU PREPARED BETTER THIS YEAR THAN LAST YEAR TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? “I think we are prepared better just because we went through the situations. Whether we win it or not is yet to be seen but I think we went through a lot of situations that helped us relate to some things that will help us as we go forward. Leading the points doesn’t matter at this point, it’s really about bonus points and winning races and I think that is basically what’s got us to this point of leading the points. It would be great to win a few more races or one more race before we get to the cutoff point here in week 26. Being where we are at has allowed us to be more aggressive on getting things situated for the Chase and there’s not a whole lot of pressure of being eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, those places or being 20 to 13 and trying to win a race, just a lot less pressure on everybody right now.”
AS AN OWNER IN THE TRUCK AND NATIONWIDE SERIES, DO YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME WATCHING THE YOUNG DRIVER UP AND COMING AND ARE THERE ANY YOU’VE REALLY GOT YOUR EYE ON RIGHT NOW? “You know I think for us we’d love to put those guys in our vehicles so we were fortunate to put David Mayhew in from the West Coast at Texas and he’s going to drive again next week at Iowa in the Truck Series so we’ve been fortunate to get him in there. Cale Gale has kind of come back around to get some opportunities and those two guys are fortunate to have some fun to get themselves a shot. Obviously David did a great job and Cale did a great job in the ARCA race, aside from those and I think Randy LaJoie’s son Corey does a great job, I think with NASCAR putting the K&N Series, those races on every week after they run, those guys are able to get some exposure. The East Series is very competitive right now, West Series is not as competitive as the East Series but still great for those guys to get the exposure and hopefully get an opportunity.”
AS A PAST WINNER AT IRP, CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR THOUGHTS OF THE NATIONWIDE SERIES LOSING ONE OF THE TRADITIONAL SHORT TRACKS AND MOVING THE RACE TO THE BIG TRACK? “I think things change. Obviously this is a huge opportunity for the Nationwide Series to go to the Brickyard. From an owner’s perspective it’s going to be a lot easier to sell than it was at the other facility. IRP has been a great part of this series and hopefully as we move forward there are some opportunities to keep the Truck Series there or maybe even the Nationwide Series on a different date. As far as that particular weekend goes, I think it’s going to be good for the Cup cars. I think the fans are going to have something else to watch on Friday and Saturday with the Rolex Series and the Nationwide Series. It just creates more of an active weekend at the big track. But from an owners perspective it’s going to be a much easier race to sell, that’s been a tough race to sell for us in the past.”
By: team chevy