Loudon, N.H., Sept. 12, 2003 - Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo, visited the Jack Ratte Memorial Media Center here at New Hampshire International Speedway on Friday morning to discuss recent events, including...
Loudon, N.H., Sept. 12, 2003 - Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo, visited the Jack Ratte Memorial Media Center here at New Hampshire International Speedway on Friday morning to discuss recent events, including the fine handed down by NASCAR following his altercation with Ricky Rudd at Richmond. Following are remarks from that press conference.
KEVIN HARVICK , NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
WHAT DO YOU OBJECT TO ABOUT THE PENALTY YOU RECEIVED?
"There's two words that I regret about the whole situation. Other than that, I still feel it was a pretty cheap shot. I think it was about as intentional as you can get when you wreck going down the straightaway and don't even make it to the corner. I still feel pretty strongly about it and I'm not going to back off that part of it. But I do regret the two words that I said. I think a couple of the guys probably regret jumping up and down on the car. I have strong feelings about the way it all went down, and I think for the most part I was pretty hot."
DO YOU THINK YOUR GUYS WERE COMING TO GET YOU SO THAT YOU WOULDN'T DO SOMETHING THAT WOULD GET YOU SUSPENDED?
"That's what they were doing. Myself and Kirk were sitting on the door just talking to each other and obviously, things escalated a little bit more than they should have. For the most part, we stuck together as a race team and a bunch of people and that's very important from a team standpoint. We got in trouble for some of the things that we did and should have done a little differently. You can't look back and can't go back on anything you did. I'm sure everyone standing in this room has done something that they didn't think was right when you look back on the situation. I probably should have done that a little bit different, but you can't go back and you can't do things over. People don't realize that we are human and we will make mistakes and probably look at things in the wrong perspective. Everyone at some point in their lives has made a mistake."
WHAT WAS THE INTENTION WHEN YOU CAME UP ON HIM ON PIT ROAD?
"I really just wanted to have a conversation with him, but it didn't work out like that."
WHAT DOES THIS DO FOR THE RUN YOU'VE BEEN MAKING?
"We just have to put it behind us and go on and keep doing everything we've been doing. We can't control Matt's fate and the circumstances around it, so we have to keep racing the car as we have been and try to make as few mistakes as possible. It's a long shot, but who knows?"
HAS THE TEAM GOTTEN STRONGER THROUGH THIS?
"Definitely. I haven't been to the shop this week. I've been gone all week, doing the things that I have to do. We're a tight-knit bunch of guys anyway, and the whole company is really like that. For the most part, we're close and we're friends. It was already a close bunch of guys and now they all know how much each other cares and how they will stick up for each other, and that means a lot."
CAN YOU COMMENT ON THE SPEEDWAY'S USE OF THE SAFER BARRIERS THIS WEEK?
"I got to test them out last week [at Richmond], so they did pretty good. I don 't think we had any injuries at Richmond, and we had the type of accidents that make us all pretty vulnerable. The wall did a great job, didn't interfere with anything as far as the racing groove is concerned. The walls didn't tear apart, the foam didn't come out and none of the barriers grabbed the cars, so I think NASCAR has done a great job making sure that they put the walls in at the right angles and really concentrated on making sure they were right."
SOME OF THE POST-RACE ROUGH STUFF THAT'S BEEN GOING ON, DO YOU THINK IT ADDS SPICE TO THE MIX OF NASCAR RACING?
"It's the reason people watch racing instead of golf. It's an exciting sport, there's a lot of emotion involved, and for the most part, it's something that means a lot to myself, all the race teams and all the people involved. People have emotions, and they have the same emotions over seeing a car accident on the road. If somebody knocks you down walking through the mall, you probably apologize and you could go into a tirade or something because you got pushed the wrong way. Just magnify that times 100 and you can imagine the emotion that come out of the race car. You're never going to get rid of all the emotions. The part I regret the most is the language."
IN TALKING WITH TODD BERRIER THE OTHER DAY, HE SAID YOU WERE EVEN MORE FOCUSED THAN BEFORE. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT?
"Any time you get up against the wall and try to make a situation out of a situation, it makes you more focused. At least it does for me. You learn by your mistakes, the things you do wrong, the things you do right. As a whole, we're probably better than we were last week."
AFTER WHAT HAPPENED AT RICHMOND AFTER BOTH RACES, DOES THERE NEED TO BE A BETTER DEFINITION OF WHAT A BUMP-AND-RUN IS?
"I wish I knew what the definition was for a lot of things. A lot of things confuse me at this point. Bumping has always been a part of our sport. There's cars sliding around the track, and there's 43 cars on the road. We've had this huge argument that the sport is vanilla, we have this aero push and everybody follows everybody around. Everybody gripes about too much activity after the race, before the race, during the race. So I just take it for what I think it's worth and react how I feel personally, so it's something where we can complain about vanilla or we can complain about chocolate. When you complain about both of them, it's something that will never work."
WHAT DOES BEING ON PROBATION THE REST OF THE YEAR MEAN TO YOU?
"For the most part, you just have to go out and race and hopefully it all shakes out. I'm still racing for first, second, third, fourth, whatever, in the championship. We just have to go out and race as hard as we did before. This won't make it any different."
DOES THIS ENCOURAGE SETTLING IT ON THE TRACK VERSUS SETTLING IT AFTERWARDS, AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN'T DO WHILE ON PROBATION?
"It's cheaper to wreck somebody on the race track than it is to have an altercation, which is safer, but that's not for me to decide. It's just like the language issue. My understanding is that was why I was fined. Maybe my words speak twice as loud as somebody else's, I don't know. You just have to go about your business as normal. It's not for me to interpret the rules or interpret why the fines are what they are, why they are so much for wrecking somebody on the track or so much for a post-race altercation. I don't even think about it. I haven't written a check in five years. I don't even know where it goes."
LOOKING BACK, WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN BETTER OFF TO HAVE DRIVEN YOUR CAR INTO THE GARAGE, GOTTEN OUT AND EXPRESSED YOUR ANGER AT RICKY TO THE MEDIA? 'Oh yeah. Definitely. Even if I'd have gone down pit road and not touched the car. That was probably, besides the language, the only other thing that was out of line. If I had parked my car, expressed my feelings and gone on with my business, it probably would have been the best thing."
WILL YOU TALK WITH RICKY THIS WEEK?
"A lot of the blame was put on me for starting an incident. The incident started on the race track. I haven't heard from Ricky Rudd, and I know the veteran approach to it is to always call on Monday morning. If it wasn't on purpose, I didn't hear the phone ring."
WHAT KIND OF IMPACT DO YOU THINK THIS WILL HAVE ON THE PIT CREW AND STRATEGIES?
"We're going to go out and kick their asses. That's the attitude we have going."
YOUR CREW SHOWED UP EARLY THIS WEEK BECAUSE THEY WERE MOTIVATED?
"It's a motivated bunch. It's just a bunch of people that always race, like to race and aren't there just because they can make more money doing the jobs they do going to race tracks. They're there because they like to win and they're competitive people. It's a lot of fun to go to the track with the guys. A lot of them express the same emotions and feelings that I do and get wound up as much as I do. Sometimes it's not good after the race, but it makes it a lot of fun in the shop for all uf us."