Kevin Harvick Charlotte 500 Thursday media visit

Team Chevy press release

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 JIMMY JOHN'S CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed racing at Charlotte, pressure and stress from racing in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, what it takes to get and keep sponsors, racing at Talladega and more.

Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ted Rossino

TALK ABOUT COMING INTO CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY, WHEN YOU LEAVE SATURDAY NIGHT YOU WILL BE HALFWAY THROUGH THE CHASE, TALK ABOUT THAT AND ALSO WHERE YOU THINK YOU ARE RIGHT NOW PERFORMANCE WISE. “We’re exciting to come in here. Obviously the last race here ended well for us. The last three or four races we’ve run a lot better here than we have over the past several years so we feel like we’ve got a lot better starting spot than we did in the past for setups and things coming to today. It feels good. Hopefully we can have a good weekend and look forward to getting it done. The Chase has been a fight for us so far. We haven’t had everything exactly how we would have laid it out but I think the results haven’t been deadly for us I guess you can say too. So it’s been an experience but we’ll keep plugging away week by week.”

JIMMIE (JOHNSON) SEEMED A LITTLE MORE PUT OFF BY THE FACT THAT PEOPLE WERE SAYING HE WAS OUT OF IT FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS, WITH THAT BEING SAID WHEN THE MIND GAMES START KICKING IN AND THE CLOSER WE GET AND THE TIGHTER THE POINTS GET, WHO IS GOING TO WIN THE MIND GAME GAME? “I don’t know. Right now I still say it’s us against ourselves. We just need to keep protecting the things that we are doing and not shooting ourselves in the foot. We’ve overcome some pretty big hurdles. The mind games thing it’s all just a matter of circumstances as to how it works out. I knew sitting on the stage last year that the No. 11 wasn’t going to win the championship because he couldn’t hardly sit still and was so nervous going into that race that he couldn’t hardly stand it. I could see it, Jimmie was gouging at it. I just sat back and watched. I think when you’ve been in these situations and for us we were fortunate to be in these situations before and especially last year, everybody knows what it’s like. You just do your thing. It’s just a matter of what the circumstances are and what you feel is the right thing to do. Right now we just need to keep doing the things we are doing until it’s time to be different. I think once we get through this week and Talladega and Martinsville then you see where you stand and see what you’ve got to do.”

JIMMIE WAS TALKING EARLIER IN THE WEEK ABOUT HOW HE’S LOST A LOT OF SLEEP THIS YEAR WITH STRESS BECAUSE THE CARS MIGHT BE REALLY AVERAGE IN QUALIFYING AND PRACTICE AND JUST TAKE OFF IN THE RACE, ITS JUST SO UNPREDICTABLE, HAVE YOU GONE THROUGH A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE WITH THAT? “You know I think this time of year for sure, this week has been better for me than the few weeks leading into this week just for the fact that I’ve had other things to do besides something that absolutely revolved around racing. We got off on a two-week stretch there where we went and tested and had a bunch of appearances and went from race to race with things in between. So this week it was a little more relaxing and that for me is a good thing to get my mind off of it otherwise my mind is spinning about racing the whole time and what we need to do different and what we could have done last week. It will keep you up at night. I think that’s just part of this time of year for sure. You definitely spend a lot of time thinking about it and it can consume your world for sure.”

HAVE YOU LEARNED ANYTHING SPECIFIC ABOUT LAST YEAR’S RUN THAT ALLOWS YOU TO TAKE THAT FINAL STEP, IS IT MENTAL? “I don’t think its one particular thing. Obviously there was some mental things that we felt like we could all or I could have done better, the guys could have done better. Coming into this Chase not being behind was one of the things we had on our check list. The one thing that we haven’t done yet that is on our check list that we felt like we needed to do to win a championship was win a race in the Chase. I still feel like that’s important to accomplish that if we’re going to win.”

AS YOU TRANSITION INTO NEW SPONSORSHIP THIS YEAR IN THE SPRINT CUP SERIES AND OVER THE TIME YOU’VE BEEN SELLING FOR KHI AS WELL, WHAT HAS ATTRACTED SPONSORS TO YOUR DRIVERS, WHAT ARE THE SELLING POINTS? “I think it varies. Each sponsor is looking for something different. Obviously they are looking for something different in what they are trying to accomplish but I think the one key thing that we concentrated on over the years is to go above and beyond for the sponsor off the race track to make sure they are getting the things they need. It’s not always about a contract it is more about a relationship outside of that contract and spending more personal time with the sponsors, getting to know them as people and not just somebody who is writing a check. The above and the beyond part is important because in this day and age it’s really not about 14 appearances and two hospitalities. Sometimes it’s about doing the little things that help them get through a situation when they need something. The sponsor relations part of it is probably the most important job in making sure they are having fun, getting the things they need and the return on their investment so they can go back and show that’s pushing the needle to make things better as far as their branding is concerned.”

WITH THE CHANGE IN THE POINT SYSTEM AND HOW CLOSE THINGS ARE WITH EACH POSITION, WE’VE SEEN IN OTHER FORMS OF MOTORSPORTS WHERE TEAM OWNER WILL COME INTO PLAY WITH THE CHAMPIONSHIP, ONCE WE GET CLOSER TO THE END OF THE CHASE DO YOU THINK WE’LL SEE TEAM ORDERS COME INTO PLAY MORE WITH DRIVERS GIVING POSITIONS TO THEIR TEAMMATES THAT ARE STILL IN CONTENTION? “My teammates have been helping me a lot as far as setups and things on the race track, helping make our car go faster. Right now that’s the most important thing. They are definitely not going to put me in a position that they feel is a bad position to be in, put us out in a scenario. I feel like everybody is on the same page and doing a great job in helping us trying to accomplish what we want to accomplish at RCR. I have no idea about other teams.”

IF YOU GO AHEAD AND WIN THIS CHAMPIONSIP WILL YOU LOOK BACK ON LAST WEEK’S SIXTH PLACE FINISH AS A REAL CRITICAL JUNCTURE IN THAT PROCESS? “Really I think the first four have been, I think Chicago we ran fairly well but the other three we’ve had to overcome some hurdles to get the finishes that we’ve had. I’ve really felt like the first five races are near as good races for us as the last five from a performance standpoint based upon how we either ran at the beginning of this year or in the years past. We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing. I keep saying this but we’ve got to concentrate on what we can do ourselves and not shoot ourselves in our own feet and control the things that we can control and see how it all falls over the next few weeks.”

THE KIND OF RACE DO YOU THINK TALLADEGA WILL BE WITH THE RULE CHANGE, DO YOU THINK IT WILL BREAK UP THE TANDEM AND DO YOU THINK WE NEEDED TO BREAK UP THE TANDEM TO MAKE FOR BETTER RACING? “I don’t watch the races so I don’t know how it is to watch but I know from a driver’s standpoint we do whatever we have to do to make our cars run as fast as they can go and our cars run faster with two cars connected than they do in a pack or in a 10-car line and so that’s just what we’ve concentrated on with the cooling and how to get the cars connected. I think what you’ll see next week is probably the same tandem racing that you’ve seen with a lot more switching so it’s probably going to draw a lot more cars closer together. There’s just going to be a lot more congestion when you do the switching and things like that. I think Thursday we should be able to get all that situated during the fuel injection test.”

TALK ABOUT THE FINISH OF THE LAST RACE AND TRYING TO GET CLINT HOME? “You try to put yourself in position. We felt like we were in a good position and didn’t think the No. 20 or the No. 48 and the No. 88 were close enough to make a run so we got to concentrating to trying to pull the No. 24 and the No. 5 apart and the next thing you know there was the No. 99 and the No. 16 and we kind of got disconnected right before we got to the start/finish line. It was just really trying to guess what the timing is as to what you need and we didn’t get it done.”

WITH YOUR SITUATION LAST WEEK WITH AUSTIN DILLON PUSHING YOU, PART OF THE REASON NASCAR SAID WAS MAINTAIN REASONABLE SPEED, DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHERE NASCAR STANDS IN THE SENSE OF GETTING ASSISTANCE OR NEEDING A PUSH? “Until they change the rule I know what the rule is. You can push people until the end of the race. Our gap got a little too wide to the car in front of us and I understand that part but the rule says you can be pushed until the end of the race. If the rule is not that then you just change the rule and let us know that but we’ll continue doing what the rule book says.”

LATE IN LAST WEEK’S RACE YOU WERE RACING FOR POSITION AGAINST YOUR TEAMMATE CLINT BOWYER, AT WHAT POINT IN THIS CHASE DOES IT BECOME A POINT THAT MAYBE ONE OF YOUR TEAMMATES SHOULD CONSIDER CONCEDING THE POSITION TO YOU BECAUSE OF WHAT THE VALUE OF ONE POINT CAN BE? “Every point matters so you just race as hard as you can and see where it all falls at the end of the day. I don’t really know how to answer that 100 percent with the right answer there.”

FROM WHAT YOU’VE SEEN IN THE CHASE SO FAR, DO YOU EXPECT THERE TO BE FOUR TO SIX GUYS WITH A SHOT AT BEING IN THE CHASE IN THE LAST WEEK OR DO YOU EXPECT IT TO COME DOWN TO TWO OR THREE LIKE LAST YEAR? “That’s hard to tell. Right now I think there are eight guys that are pretty close. We’re not even half way yet and you’ve kind of not eliminated four guys but you’ve put four guys pretty far behind that ‘s probably never going to happen that they’re going to catch the guys up front even if one or two of them have trouble there’s still a third that probably won’t. That’s why I keep preaching to the team and to you guys that we can’t make mistakes because when you make that mistake there is going to be somebody that doesn’t make mistakes. Big mistakes, I’m talking 25th through 35th place positions, those are the ones that kill you, that seem to get you in a hole that you can’t seem to get out of. If we can keep that from happening then hopefully we’re not one of those guys. I don’t anticipate it being eight though.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick
Teams Richard Childress Racing
Tags chevrolet, childress, harvick