KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER DESIGNATED DRIVER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed the role fuel mileage played in last week’s race and the Chase, his calm attitude over the past year and half, his expectations of the upcoming Dover race and much more.
YOU HAVE A SPECIAL PAINT SCHEME ON PART OF YOUR CAR WITH YOUR GLOBAL BEER RESPONSIBLE DAY TODAY, TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT TRYING TO BE RESPONSIBLE AND THE INITIATIVE ANHEUSER-BUSCH IS TAKING. “It’s kind of a neat deal to be a part of a day like this. All the Anheuser-Busch employees will be going to restaurants, bars, all different places to spread the word. Spread the importance of everybody being responsible as they are having a good time and designating a driver to take care of the people on our roads and yourselves. It’s a great initiative and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
I think anything you can do that is better than everybody else at this point is a good thing.
HOW SIGNIFICANT IS IT FROM THE MENTAL MIND GAME STANDPOINT, MATH STANDPOINT EVERYTHING THAT YOU OF THE TOP SEEDS STAYED UP THERE AND JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY AROUND YOU THAT WAS TOP-SEEDED FELL PRETTY SIGNIFICANTLY LAST WEEK? “I think anything you can do that is better than everybody else at this point is a good thing. For us it’s kind of like us against ourselves. You don’t want to beat yourself in the first week. You don’t want to do anything to take yourself out of the hunt and I think last week you had to take a risk to be a part of the race in the first place. There was no way that you could put under green and then come in and loose a lap, you’re going to wind up with a bad finish anyway. Obviously it was a good start. It was almost identical the way that it had played out last year with the start to the Chase with everybody running out of gas here (New Hampshire Motor Speedway) last year and some guys making it. It’s kind of ironic that you go from a mile race track to a 1.5-mile race track and have a very similar situation but just glad that it all worked out because you can put yourself in a hole. Felt good about the way it shook out.”
BACK IN JANUARY RICHARD CHILDRESS SAID IT WAS TIME TO KICK JIMMIE (JOHNSON) OFF THAT THRONE WE WERE CLOSE WITH KEVIN LAST YEAR BUT WE FEEL LIKE THIS YEAR IS THE YEAR TO DO IT AND HE SAID RCR IS CERTAIN AND HE LOOKED AT ALL OF Y’ALL AND SAID DOES THAT PUT ANY PRESSURE ON ANYBODY, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT FULFILLING THAT CALL HE MADE? “Well sometimes he gets excited. I don’t know if that was the absolute right thing to say in public but I think all in all Richard is very confident in us as drivers and feels like he spends the money and does the things to be competitive for a championship and just wants to win. That’s just what he likes about racing other than his grandkids being involved in the sport now. With Richard it’s all about winning whatever. Whether it’s a race, a practice, a championship, he wants to be up on that stage again and we want to be right there with him. It’s one of those things where you just have to roll along with it. We’re one week in and it’s a long ways to go, anything can happen. We’re happy with the way that it started but we’re definitely not going to get to confident about it. We’re just going to take it one week at a time.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT STRATEGY AND GOING INTO THE FINAL LAPS OF THE RACE AND THE FUEL MILEAGE? “Save gas. That was the strategy. It’s just one of those things – that’s the hard part about our sport. It’s not like you have a fuel gauge to go off of sitting in the car. You have to do what you think is right as far as the amount of gas that you save, what you’re doing and the techniques that you use. They told me we were 3.8 laps short when we left pit road to start that run and it felt like I had done an okay job of saving gas but you’re never really confident. If I had just probably listened and went those last 11 laps, we probably would have won the race. The flip side to that is you might have run out of gas too. It’s just one of those things where you have to kind of go by feel and hope that it works out. Everybody thought it was going to work out with the strategy that they were using and as the closing laps came unfortunately it didn’t for some.”
WITHOUT GIVING AWAY COMPANY SECRETS CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SAVING FUEL TECHNIQUES? “Yeah, right.”
ANYTHING IN GENERAL YOU CAN SAY ON THAT, I GUESS NOT. “Ask me that again in December.”
WHAT MAKES SOME DRIVERS BETTER AT SAVING FUEL THAN OTHERS, IS ALL ABOUT HOW HARD THEY ARE ON THE THROTTLE OR HOW CONSISTENT THEY ARE ON THAT? “I can’t speak for everybody else because I don’t really know exactly what they do. We have the things that we’ve done for years. A lot of it is preparation I guess you could say with not only techniques of the driver, or a lot of it is the crew chief telling you soon enough to make a difference. They have a lot of ways they can look at the pit box and they guestimate on the lap time as well as far as what the lap time is and what they think the fuel consumption is and being efficient enough to use all the fuel in the cell, not waste any fuel, spilling over in the carburetor. There’s a lot of things you can take advantage of. When you’re talking just pints of gas, tenths of a gallon, you’re talking just very little it all matters is basically what I’m getting at. It’s not just my responsibility. There’s a lot of preparation and responsibility that goes in it from when it leaves the shop with fuel cells and carburetors, fuel lines and all the things that go with that.”
A LOT OF YOUR RIVALS HAVE JUST LIKE BLOWN UP RIGHT AND LEFT MENTALLY AND YET YOU OVER THE LAST YEAR AND A HALF HAVE GOT THIS STRANGE CALM ATTITUDE ABOUT EVERTHING, SOMETHING HAPPENED ALONG THE LINE, WHAT CHANGED? “It’s easier. That’s really the bottom line. It’s easier. Honestly I think Gil (Martin, crew chief) and the team have a lot to do with that just for the fact that he handles it. When we’re screwed up he will be the first one to tell you that we’re screwed up but he has an answer as to here’s what we’re doing. We’re not just sitting on our hands hoping for something to magically fix itself. Here’s the procedures that we’re going through to try to make things better. Here’s the problems that we had, here’s what we’re trying to address. He just handles it. He lets me be myself and when I get mad and get frustrated in the car he lets me yell on the radio and then it’s over with and we move on. When you have people around you that are doing their job and doing it well and dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s and doing everything that comes with it I can be a lot calmer. I think a lot of the things that we’ve done, you’ve seen everything that has happened with the Nationwide teams and the Truck teams and that stuff didn’t just start, you’ve seen Austin (Dillon) in the car this year, you’ve seen a lot of the things from RCR really helping line things up on the Nationwide and Truck side and it’s just been easier on me.”
HOW DID YOUR DEAL WITH EDDIE SHARPE RACING COME TOGETHER AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO KEEP THOSE ENTRIES ON THE TRACK? “Our main concern when we decided to do what we did with KHI was to do everything we could to keep everything on the track. With Eddie acquiring the two teams that’s going to give everybody the opportunity to move forward. He’s going to come to the shop and interview people and make sure they fit into his company and want to be a part of his company. Those two teams will be on track. For him it’s a great way to build his company with two teams that are already established and if he can get the people to go along with him that’s even better. All that’s up to him now and for us we’re obviously going a different direction with our lives and business. To have the people have the opportunity to still have jobs and move forward is the part that we’ve been concentrating on at this point – to try to help them.”
WILL YOU RUN THE NO. 33 AND THE NO. 2 TRUCKS THE REST OF YEAR, OR WILL EDDIE START TAKING OVER THAT? “No, as of today we’ll continue running them. We have sponsors so we have to run them for the most part.”
GOING TO DOVER, DOES BRISTOL HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT, HOW IS YOUR DEAL FOR DOVER? “We should be fine in Dover. I felt like we’ve run well there the last few times so I don’t really have any specific concerns. I think as you go to every race track there is always concern on whether you’re going to run good or bad and you never really know until you get there and see what the tire is and see exactly what the weekend brings with weather and all the different things that come with putting a weekend together. We can run really well at any race track. Along with anybody in the garage we have that opportunity to run bad too so you just have to make the best out of whatever the weekend gives you but it doesn’t bring up and specific concerns for us.”
THE DYNAMIC THAT THIS RACE HAS PRESENTED IN THE PAST IN TERMS OF IMPACTING THE CHASE AS THE LEAD-OFF RACE, HOW HAS IT CHANGED NOW THAT ITS NUMBER TWO IN THE LINE-UP? “Look they can all be land mines. There’s not a specific race track that I look at – from our standpoint there is not one specific race track that stands out and says this is going to be a disaster. They can all be disasters and they can all be beneficial. This is just another race track on the schedule. Obviously there are more 1.5-mile race tracks on the schedule than there are anything else, but I’m not trying to be an ass about anything to us they are all just another race at this point. They all pay the same points. We just go to a different location and we have a different car and we show up and that’s just how we are approaching it. It’s just another race and we’re going to show up and hopefully take the most points out of it. Our first goal is to win and our second goal is to get everything we can out of it. They can all be land mines and they can all be good for you.”
ITS BEEN SOME YEARS SINCE YOU’VE WON HERE, HOW DO YOU VIEW THIS TRACK AS FAR AS YOUR ABILITY TO PERFORM ON A FLAT, ONE-MILE TRACK? “When we come here we expect to win. That’s just how we feel about it coming in. Last time we came here expecting to win and finished 21st. It’s just one of those deals where there are so many things that can bite you at every race, whether its track position, whether its strategy, whether your car is just not handling good, there’s just a lot of things that can bite you. If you get behind and you get behind late you’re not going to make it up.
“There’s definitely a track position game here that comes into play because it’s harder to pass than most places. All in all we come here with a car that’s won on two flat tracks this year and we don’t expect anything less than that but that’s what we expect every week.”
WHAT ROLE DO YOU THINK FUEL MILEAGE IS GOING TO PLAY IN THE CHASE? “I think that fuel mileage is always a possibility to be a part of it. There’s no way to know exactly how many races will work out that way but when you look at the history or you go back and look at the stats for the year, whether its Cup or Nationwide for whatever reason there seems to be a lot more runs at the end that come down to fuel mileage. You have to plan for it and you have to count on it happening based on past history. This race comes down to a late pit stop usually right on the edge of fuel mileage strategy. You have to plan on fuel mileage happening at every race and be prepared for it. If it doesn’t happen it’s no big deal but if you don’t prepare for it and it does happen then you’re in trouble because you can’t compete with everybody else on the race track that’s planned for it. It will come into play again.”