Martinsville II: Harvick - Friday media visit

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, met with media and discussed short track racing, the upcoming Chase races, tire strategy at Martinsville, and more. ON RACING AT MARTINSVILLE THIS WEEKEND: "Performance-wise, I feel like it ...

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, met with media and discussed short track racing, the upcoming Chase races, tire strategy at Martinsville, and more.

ON RACING AT MARTINSVILLE THIS WEEKEND: "Performance-wise, I feel like it (Martinsville Speedway) has been a good race track for us. We enjoy coming here and feel like we run well. We just need to get the finish this weekend we feel like we can get. I feel good about that. I feel good about where our car should start today and the car that they brought and everything. Everything on the car is better than what we raced the first race and aside from a parts failure, we ran really well. We'll just go out and do what we know how to do and start going forward over these last five weeks. I think they're good race tracks for us. We've got through Charlotte and Dover without any major disasters, so I'm looking forward to the next five."

ON THE TUMS GRAND MARSHAL PROGRAM WHERE ONE PIT CREW MEMBER FROM EACH OF THE 43 RACE TEAMS WILL BE HONORARY GRAND MARSHAL FOR SUNDAY'S RACE AND THEY ARE A VITAL PART OF YOUR SUCCESS "Yeah, and for us, Mark Williams, our truck driver is going to be the guy representing our team this weekend and he's from a mile from here, so this area is obviously a big area for a lot of the team members with the Wood Bros. been near here, they've produced a number of good team members and guys that have been a part of this sport for a long time. Also, with the Petty's and Childress and all the teams that are centrally located away from Mooresville and kind of up near this area, it's cool to see those guys get a little recognition that have been a part of this sport for a long time."

WHAT'S YOUR PERSPECTIVE AS TO WHY THIS TRACK SEEMS TO BE SO DIFFICULT FOR EVEN GOOD DRIVERS TO GET ADJUSTED TO? "I think it just goes in streaks. It's no different than any race track. You go through three or four or five years where you run good and for some guys it's probably like Charlotte is for us. It's just a race track where you just can't get everything figured and so you just never have a good feel for what you need in the car.

"And that's probably one reason why it's so hard is everybody did grow up on short tracks so the tolerance for being off is very small. And you wind up, when you're off, you're off a small bit, but it's a lot here. You're looking at a hundredth of a second here in qualifying and a lot of the same times. When you wind up with the competition being that close, when you're off it's a mile here. It's a lot of spots. It's not just four or five spots, its 10 or 15 when you're off a tenth."

DO YOU HAVE TO HIT SOME HOME RUNS TO CATCH JIMMIE JOHNSON, OR CAN YOU JUST KIND OF TRY TO HOLD ON TO HIM? "Or, just hit him! (laughter). No, I'm just kidding (laughs) kinda (more laughter). It's a decent race track for us. Obviously those guys (Johnson and Denny Hamlin) have got the results to back it up, but we've gone from the beginning of the Chase and over-achieved on everything that we've done. This has just been a good year for us and we're not going to do anything different. If we hit a home run this weekend, we hit a home run. If we don't, there is no reason to worry about trying to force anything. And we just keep plugging away. I feel like we need to win a race in the next five to make it happen, but when you start forcing things to happen, you'll wind up with a 35th (place finish) and then you'll be done. To be in the game, you have to be close enough to be a part of the game. And we'll just keep racing."

YOU ARE RUNNING A BLACK PAINT SCHEME SOME NEXT YEAR, IS THAT A TRIBUTE OR SIGNIFICANCE TO DALE EARNHARDT? "Nope."

JIMMIE JOHNSON AND DENNY HAMLIN HAVE WON THE LAST 8 RACES AT MARTINSVILLE, IN NASCAR YOU DON'T REALLY HAVE A ONE VERSUS TWO SHOWDOWN BUT DOES THIS RACE HAVE A ONE-TWO SHOWDOWN? "I think it has a spoiler feel to it. We'll spoil the one-two showdown this weekend, hopefully."

DO YOU HAVE A MINDSET FOR WHAT YOU WANT TO DO THIS WEEKEND OR A CERTAIN POINTS GAP THAT YOU WANT TO CLOSE? "I just told you what I wanted to do this weekend. I want to do what we've been doing. I want to do what we've been doing. I want to go out and race as fast as our car will go and race my own race."

IN THE SPRING RACE, DENNY HAMLIN WAS HELPED BY HAVING ANOTHER CAUTION AT THE END. DOES THAT MAKE PEOPLE RECONSIDER WHAT THEY MIGHT DO IN THOSE SITUATIONS OR DO YOU JUST LOOK AT IT AS HE GOT AWFULLY LUCKY? "We've looked at the tape a lot this week. And we look at the strategy of tires versus no tires versus track position and it seems like the tires, well they obviously mean something, but I think if you look at the circumstances where; I think if that wasn't the No. 20 car that let Denny (Hamlin) in, he probably gets wrecked by somebody else. If that was me, he would have been wrecked because he wouldn't have got in the hole and we probably both would have wrecked because he forced his way down on his teammate and that's really what allowed him to win the race. The circumstances played out exactly how they needed to for him with the No. 17 and the No. 24 having something brewing there as far as a feud at that particular point and running into each other and it all just played out for him. I don't think in circumstances, without the No. 20 car being there, I don't think tires would have made it all the way back to the front. So I think if that circumstance played out again and the No. 20 car is not there, I don't think he makes it back to the front. That's what we analyzed this week anyway."

ON MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY SPENDING MONEY TO KEEP THE TRACK UP TO DATE AND THE FANS HAPPY AND BRINGING FANS IN THE DOOR "I think for everybody in the garage, we all grew up on short tracks and we all enjoy coming here. I think it's a race track that kind of brings us all back to our roots. This particular race track has been a part of NASCAR for a long time. It's fitting that it's in the Chase and it's kind of that wild card feel as far as you can get caught up in something here just like you can at Talladega, maybe not to the magnitude of Talladega, but there's always that little bit of unknown. It's a great place. They've done a good job with upgrading the facilities and continuing to do that and it's a fun little race track."

(INAUDIBLE) ON THE TRUCKS KHI IS RACING THIS WEEKEND "Actually it's a different truck than we raced the first race; it's the same truck we raced at Loudon and it's something that's been a good race track for us and obviously we have pretty much the same setup that we had in the truck and I just look forward to it. We come here with the intentions of having a chance to win the race and putting ourselves in position to do that. We've got some things that have changed around and putting Butch and the whole No. 2 team on Hornaday's truck this weekend and bringing David in to do my truck is going to be good. Anything less than one of those two trucks winning the race will be a disappointment for the weekend, but its fun for us to come race and see where we stand."

TO GO BACK TO THE END OF THE RACE SCENARIO, CAN YOU GIVE ME A SENSE OF WHAT TIRES MEAN IF YOU COME IN AND GET FOUR? I KNOW YOU'VE GOT TRAFFIC AND OTHER ISSUES, BUT HOW MUCH MORE VALUABLE CAN FOUR OR TWO TIRES BE OVER SOMEBODY WITH OLDER TIRES? "If you have four tires, I mean it's going to fall off over 100 laps, it's probably going to fall off a second. But in the first 50, it's going to fall off four to five tenths and so it's just a matter of how many laps. If' there's 50 laps left, everybody is going to come in and put four tires on. If there is 25 laps left and there's 10 cars on the lead lap, most everybody is going to some in. But it's just a matter of how many of those guys are on the lead lap and with 20 laps to go and you're eighth, unless it plays out absolutely perfect like it did for him (Hamlin) last time, you're not making it to the front; especially if you start on the outside on the restart because it's going to be tough to get down when you're in the middle of the pack like that.

"So it's a crap shoot. It's as much of a guessing game as it is anything when you put yourself in that position because the guys up front are going to do everything they can to hold their track position. They're going to stay two-wide and if that leader gets out there you're just not going to catch him unless there are multiple cautions and you can catch a break on the restart. If you start seventh you probably have a better chance that eighth and it's just part of the gamble here. It could play out any way."

(INAUDIBLE) "It's just pretty much the last couple of laps and you know it just all played out with the No. 24 and the No. 17 pushing each other and then the No. 17 pushing whoever it was up the race track. I think it was actually the No. 24 and the No. 11 just squirted down and he just forced his way down in front of the No. 20 and the No. 20 lifted. That was the only way he got down."

SIX YEARS AGO THERE WAS A RACE HERE WHERE JOHNSON WAS LEADING WITH LIKE 40 OR 50 TO GO AND THERE WERE 14 CARS ON THE LEAD LAP. HE PITTED AND NOBODY ELSE DID. IT ALWAYS SEEMED LIKE THAT USED TO BE THE LATE RACE STRATEGY WAS TO JUST TO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT THE LEADER DOES IF YOU'RE TOWARD THE BACK. IS THAT NOT TRUE AS MUCH ANYMORE OR DO YOU WANT TO DO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT THE GUYS IN FRONT DO IF YOU'RE TOWARD THE BACK? "I think it all depends; a lot of times if you're the last car on the lead lap and you're 14th or 15th, obviously your car is probably not handling very good. So you might come in and put two tires on or just stay out but you're probably going to get run over. But usually what happens is if the leader pits and there are 14 cars on the lead lap, 7th and 8th will be in the worst spot because those are the guys who are going to be the first ones vulnerable to the new tires. But if you're 14th through 10th, you're coming in regardless and probably 9th and 8th will come in too because they know they're going to be in that spot and they'll be the first ones on four tires. So it's just a matter of where everybody breaks off. But the ten on the lead lap are coming regardless, and usually those guys that are in the 7th, 8th, 9th, or whatever it is, if there's 20, the halfway will be 10th, and those guys are the ones that are most vulnerable to losing spots. So, usually if you're at the back of the lead lap you're going to take a chance and come in probably regardless and those guys in the middle, if there's 20, you're going to have 8th and 9th probably stay out hoping that somebody stays out with them. It's just that with the double-file restart, so much of that has changed; especially here because I think you see more guys pit just because the tires fall off more. But when you get inside that 25-lap window, it's hard to make yourself come onto pit road if you haven't been out there for a whole fuel fun, and come in and pit and say, all right, I'm leading the race and I'm going to come in and pit and there's 20 laps to go, because you know there's probably going to be a couple more cautions."

EVERYONE SAYS THEY'RE GOING TO TAKE IT ONE RACE AT A TIME AND WE'RE GOING TO DO THE SAME THINGS WE'VE DONE AT THIS POINT. BUT HOW CAN YOU HOPE, BY DOING WHAT YOU'VE DONE ALL YEAR, TO BEAT A GUY WHO EVERY YEAR, DOESN'T DO WHAT HE HAS DONE ALL YEAR? EVERY SINGLE YEAR, JOHNSON IS BETTER IN THE CHASE THAN HE IS IN THE REGULAR SEASON. HOW DO YOU MATCH UP AGAINST THAT BY DOING THE SAME YOU HAVE BEEN DOING? "That's a good question. The first races don't match up; really a lot of the races in the Chase, statistically haven't matched up. They don't match up well for us. If you look at average finishes and you look at the things that have happened in the past, we've been way above average over the first five races for us. The next five are particularly good race tracks for us as far as Homestead, Phoenix, and even here. We've run well here. But you look at those statistics and they don't show that. So, for us, its do the same things that you do; and for us it's been on certain weekends doing that same thing. You look at Michigan.

"Michigan was a race track that statistically was horrible for us and we didn't look forward to going there, but we kept working at it and we go there and we dominate the race. And those are the things that when I talk about doing the same things that we've done all year, that we have to do. I'm not saying that we don't have to win or we don't have to be better. We have to be better than we've ever been in the Chase before. We have to be as good as we have been all year and some of that comes with winning a race and finishing in the top five. I agree. You're going to have to beat the N. 48 because they do get better in the Chase; but for us, we've had a good year so doing those same things during the Chase would be just fine because those include winning races and running up front."

HAVE YOU DONE ANYTHING TO ADDRESS THE ISSUES YOU'VE HAD ON PIT ROAD? IF THEY DON'T GET ADDRESSED, ARE YOU GOING TO BE ABLE TO CONTEND OVER THE NEXT FIVE RACES? "Those issues have been addressed and I believe everything will be fine this week. Richard (Childress) made some huge changes this week."

THREE YEARS AGO WITH THE NEW COT, YOUR CAR CAUGHT ON FIRE AND THE FAMOUS FOAM ISSUE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT AND HOW FAR YOU THINK THE CAR HAS COME SINCE THEN? "They have done a phenomenal job with the car. I don't think it was any secret in the beginning that the fans didn't like the cars; the cars had a lot of trouble. And you look at the cars now and they've got the spoilers back on the cars and I think the racing on the race track is as competitive as it has been since I've been a part of the sport and I think everybody has done a good job to fix a lot of the mechanical problems. The foam issue just goes along with a lot of things that have happened to us here at Martinsville. It's just weird things like that. I think the foam caught on fire twice. But we've addressed, and I say we as a sport and NASCAR in general, have addressed so many issues that came about with the car and I think next year is just another progression of where the car is going to be by fixing the front nose to get rid of the splitter braces and make the car look sportier, much like the Nationwide cars do. From that particular time to now, it's all come a long ways.

"From a driver's standpoint, sitting in this car is like night and day compared to the old car because your head's not sitting against the roll bar and you can move around in the car and not have to worry about hitting anything from a driver's standpoint. So it's just a way better race car than it was three years ago. They drive much better than they used to because we figured out the bump stops and things that just make them drive better. So it's come a long way."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Denny Hamlin , Mark Williams
Teams Williams