Kevin Harvick NNCS teleconference, part 1

Kevin Harvick , No. 29 Reese's Monte Carlo SS NASCAR Weekly Teleconference Transcript Bass Pro Shops 500, Atlanta Motor Speeday MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this week's NASCAR teleconference in advance of Sunday's Bass Pro...

Kevin Harvick , No. 29 Reese's Monte Carlo SS
NASCAR Weekly Teleconference Transcript
Bass Pro Shops 500, Atlanta Motor Speeday

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this week's NASCAR teleconference in advance of Sunday's Bass Pro Shops 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. That will be the seventh race in the 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, the last ten races of the season that determine the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion. Today our teleconference guest is Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet. Kevin comes into this week 2nd in the Chase standings. He's only 36 points behind leader Matt Kenseth. He's already clinched the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series title, and he could make history as the first driver to win both that title and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title in the same season. Kevin, you won your first Series race in Atlanta five years ago. What are your thoughts about being so close to the Chase lead with only three races remaining?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I feel really good about where we are, considering the last few weeks that we have had. We've had an engine failure at Dover, we had transmission trouble at Charlotte, and I think we wrecked at least once last week. We wrecked at Kansas, we wrecked at Talladega, so we have not had the greatest complete events. We've always seemed to have decent finishes in the end, but it's been a lot of drama in between. We feel good about the position that we're in. We ran really well at the first Atlanta race this year and crashed there in the beginning of the race, but the car ran well and we're racing I believe we're racing the car that we tested earlier in the year, so we're excited about going to Atlanta and looking forward to the weekend.

Q: Kevin, you've probably heard Matt's quote that this Chase has been pretty sloppy so far, as he put it. He seemed almost embarrassed to inherit the lead in the Chase with an 11th place finish and all of his double digit finishes. Is it at all hollow for you, or do you feel like this is such a chaotic thing that it's going to be who has the least mess at the end of this thing?

KEVIN HARVICK: You know, it's really a Catch 22 situation. Everybody is pushing everything to the extreme, whether it's engines, bodies, drivers. No matter what it is, you're pushing everything as hard as you can so you're walking that ultra thin line of being good with an advantage of more horsepower or more downforce or whatever the case may be, being more aggressive on the race track. But when you push it too far, you wind up crashing the car or blowing an engine or whatever you're pushing it on, and everybody is pushing everything. It appears to be sloppy, but it just a lot of us have had good fortunes through the year, and now it seems like some of those bad fortunes have caught up to us but we're still on the performance side we're still okay and able to salvage good finishes out of it. The 17, you know, I can't speak for him, but I know from our standpoint, we feel like on the performance side of things, we've been okay, we just haven't had everything go our way in the last five weeks.

Q: Regarding Jeff's engine failure Sunday and then yours earlier, does that make you feel a little bit tentative about these last few races? I'm no mechanic, but I think the places like Atlanta maybe are even harder on the engines. Does that make you the least bit wary going into these last three races or last four, that you and your senior teammate have had a had engine failures?

KEVIN HARVICK: Not really. The biggest thing that we have a different engine package for tracks that are mile and less so we only have to run that engine package one more time. We're right on the edge of pushing things on that. Knock on wood, we've had good luck with our engines on the mile and a half race tracks and that package. So two totally different packages that we've been having problems with, and our mile and a half stuff has been okay it seems like.

Q: As to the why of it, are you guys pushing your equipment that much harder than during say, the quote unquote, regular season? And are you really pushing too hard?

KEVIN HARVICK: I don't think you can ever you don't push too hard until you start you have to find the limit somewhere. I think obviously it's a fine line between pushing the limits and trying to find out where that limit is and knowing when to back off. But everybody seems to be in that frame of mind, and I think that's why it seems like there's I think that's why there's been so many problems myself.

Q: What would it mean to you if you should win both the championships, Kevin?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think any time you set out to race, I mean, we set goals at the beginning of the year, and our goals at the beginning of the year were to race for both championships and put ourselves in contention to do that towards the end of the year. Obviously the Busch year has been something that we might not ever get the chance to do again, in one complete racing year. But to be able to accomplish both of those goals, knowing where we were last year at RCR and everything that we've turned around and to be where we are today is something that I think we're all just head over heels about and really excited to be a part of it. To have that opportunity to achieve those goals that you always try to set as high as you can is something that we're all really proud of.

Q: And last year or the last couple of years you've been on the outside looking in at this Chase. What kind of a mindset do you have as a non Chase driver? Is it frustration or anything like that?

KEVIN HARVICK: I don't think so. I don't think you really care about any of the Chase guys. You go out and you try to make your season better, maybe I thought about it wrong. But as you get down to the last few races, you try to respect the Chase drivers that are in contention for the championship. But otherwise you race as hard as you have for the whole year, and if they're worried about crashing, they need to just worry about it themselves, you don't need to worry about that from a non Chase guy's standpoint because it usually causes more problems than are necessary.

Q: There have been some reports that you may not run at the Busch race in Memphis this weekend. I was just checking to see if you had decided which way you're going to go with that.

KEVIN HARVICK: No change.

Q: You're still going to come and race?

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah.

Q: Also, you won the Busch title so dominantly this year. Do you think that it will prompt NASCAR to make some moves to maybe push the Busch Series into a Chase kind of playoff format?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think the Busch Series is kind of in the middle of it's in a midlife crisis I think you could say. The sponsors and the drivers are all a lot of Cup drivers and a lot of sponsors want that to put in their cars so they get the most bang for their buck. Yeah, I mean, from another standpoint, I think it would be good for the Series to be able to have the guys that are racing week in and week out that aren't in the Cup Series be able to have a story behind them, to have something that everybody can talk about on TV and the sponsors are interested in. It's a little bit tough right now from a Busch team owner's standpoint to sell that to a sponsor and understand that completely. But from a driver's standpoint, it's great for me because I can race both schedules and race as much as I want to, and I've been fortunate to be successful at it. I think it's what the people want to see in the grandstands, and the race tracks love it and everybody likes it, but I don't know it's the best thing for the Series in the long run.

Q: Given all the things that took place Sunday in Martinsville with yourself and with other drivers, and I guess looking at Talladega, has that caused you to give any thought to maybe adding another short track race to the Chase to create a little bit more excitement?

KEVIN HARVICK: I would like to see more short tracks in it. But it seems a little heavily padded with mile and a half race tracks, and I don't have a problem with the mile and a half race tracks, but I think if you're going to determine a championship, you should have all different types of race tracks on the schedule to determine who the best team and driver are. You know, it is what it is right now, but I think obviously the short track stuff is pretty intense and pretty exciting to shake things up.

Q: Given where you finished or where you ended up in the points, are you still kind of surprised at that after some of the things that happened Sunday?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, it turned into a typical Martinsville. Ever since they've redone the race track at Martinsville the racing hasn't really been very good anyway. You can't pass, and it's kind of just run into everybody. So that makes it tough. But it seems like it's losing grip every time we go there. Yeah, I mean, we had the opportunity to wreck several times and we did wreck once pretty good and were able to just have cosmetic damage and get it all pulled back out and come back and finish in the Top 10. We were fortunate to not get it worse than we did and still have a decent finish out of it.

Q: Two questions: First one if you can answer it is everyone going into the Chase says that Talladega and Martinsville were sort of the 1 and 1A of the wildcards; you never knew what was going to happen. Now that you're past that, what is sort of your mindset and all the other Chase drivers' mindset? Is it sort of a breather now, now we can sort of get back to talent wins out and not so much luck?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think it's going to come down to luck myself. I think in racing and any other sport that you can think of, I think luck plays a major factor in what you do. I think all ten teams are really good and have performed well week in and week out, and everybody is pushing as hard as they can right now. I think it's going to come down to who has the least amount of problems because all the teams if you look at the race results and the running order in a lot of the races, through the races, I think that most of the Top 10 teams are going to be in the Top 10 pretty much most of the time. All ten of those teams are there for a reason and seem to be running good every week, it just seems like a lot of crazy little things are happening.

Q: And also, I'm sorry if you've answered this question already, but I was just looking at some of the numbers and you have just under a 25th average finish at Atlanta. Is there some reason you can put your finger on, why you've performed better at other tracks than this one?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think obviously we've won in Atlanta, so, I mean, it's there. Maybe we used our luck up in the beginning, I don't know. But it was good to us at the beginning of the year performance wise and just got caught up in a wreck. So I think from a performance side, I think we should be fine, it's just a matter of making all the right moves and having a whole day come together.

Q: Kevin, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was talking about that he's kicking himself basically because he got into the racing of it, not the points race but just racing, and he says he has to learn not to do that when you see the finish line at Martinsville. Is that something that you think that you've learned that's benefitted you, to not be such a racer that you forget about the big picture?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think during the races, during that particular event, I think you get into the moment and you get into trying to win the race and trying to do the best you can and race as hard as you can every lap. If you don't race hard, you wind up getting beat by somebody who is racing hard, and usually when you wind up trying to be conservative you usually get yourself tore up. I don't know, I think it's kind of a you could argue it both ways I think and probably come to a good conclusion. It all depends on circumstances and who you're racing around and what the circumstance is to be honest with you as to what decision you make as far as how hard you push.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick