Team Chevy Racing press release
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Talladega Superspeedway and discussed fuel injection testing, competing with fellow “Race to the Chase” competitors Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth at Talladega, learning how to drive restrictor plate tracks and other topics.
There are a lot of things that you can control and those are the things that we are focused on to try to keep track of.
COMING IN TO TALLADEGA, OPENING UP THE SECOND HALF OF THE CHASE, TALK ABOUT THIS RACE WEEKEND: “It has been a good racetrack for us but it has been really good or you have something happen that gives you a bad day. You just have to take it one lap at a time and try to be precise about your plan as to what you are going to do during the race, when you have a gut feeling that something is going to happen you have to do what you think is right to preserve your car and do the things to keep yourself around until the end of the race. It is kind of a guessing game, but all in all it has been a good place for us.”
DO YOU VIEW THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM CARL EDWARDS AND MATT KENSETH WHO DO NOT HAVE AS GOOD OF RECORD AT TALLADEGA AS YOU HAVE? “I think anybody has that opportunity this week. I think anyone can have a good week. I remember the 99 and the 16 being alongside my door at the finish of the last race. It is kind of a crap-shoot and you have to do everything you can control and do what you think is best for yourself and your car and try not to make any mistakes on pit road. Just have a good plan. Hopefully, we have got all that going for us this week and see how it plays out.”
BASED ON WHAT YOU HAVE DONE HERE AND WHAT (CARL) EDWARDS HAS DONE HERE, DON’T YOU LIKE YOUR CHANGES BETTER THAN YOU DO CARL’S? “That is a good question, I don’t think any of the previous stats matter at any race track I think we are all capable of winning at any particular race track. We have had success here, but like I said in the last race here he had a good day and did what he had to do. We are not worried about anybody else. We are worried about ourselves, don’t care what anyone else’s record is or whether it is good or bad, we just want to control what we can control and not draw anything else around us to pull us down. We don’t need motivation, we have enough motivation sitting on the shelf in Las Vegas with that trophy that is our motivation, we don’t need stats, we don’t need people, and we don’t care about the people around us right now.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CLOSING RATE HERE? “That does become really the hardest part of the way that the racing is now, is on the re-starts and things like that and when they are bunched up and that first initial switch when there is a lot of cars around is when things get hairy, and you are that pack catching. You have to have a lot of faith in the guy in front of you, I feel like myself and Paul (Menard) have been through a lot of situations that we will be, better this time than we were last time. Depends on how late in the race it is, on how many chances you take. Being the pusher, you are just committed. You hold it wide open and you hope to feel the guy in front of you if he starts to drag the brake, you feel like there is something coming, you need to be ready. A lot of it is just off of feel. It is defiantly not off of sight, from the second car.”
DID YOU BENEFIT FROM THE FUEL INJECTION TEST YESTERDAY? ALSO, TALK ABOUT YOUR CONSISTENCY AND FOCUS HERE: “There are a lot of things that you can control, you can control pit road penalties, we can control pit stops, you can control a lot of things, and there is only 42 things that you can’t control to be honest with you. There are a lot of things that you can control and those are the things that we are focused on to try to keep track of. As far as the test yesterday, I would not have been here if I didn’t think it was beneficial. The fuel injection is just a small part of what is different this weekend. The pop-off valve is different this weekend. Timing is a big issue with the cars. Going to be drafting with Paul (Menard) this weekend, like we did last race. We felt like we did the things together like we don’t have to do today in our primary car, so we took some of the things that we can control and took them to the fullest extent and did the things that we thought we needed to do yesterday and hopefully we took some risks out of today.”
WHEN YOU CHANGE OVER THE YEARS HERE, IS IT JUST EXPERIENCE, TRIAL AND ERROR, IS IT WATCH AND LEARN OR IS IT MORE OF AN ADJUSTMENT TO WHEN TO MOVE AND WHEN NOT TO MOVE? “It is definitely, much more strategic than a lot of people give it credit for. You look back at the different styles of racing that have evolved over the restrictor plate races over the years and pretty much the same guys who have been good at it through all those evolutions are still good at it. You have to be very patience, you have to be very aggressive, and the fact of putting yourself in position. It is a fine balance, I think over time you learn that balance and you learn what you can and can’t do. Being over aggressive can put you in a bad spot and cause a lot of trouble for a lot of other people, but being aggressive can also gain you a position that puts you in position to win the race. It is just a matter of when you make the moves and I think; experience plays more into it than anything.”
LOOKING AT THE SCHEDULE THE FINAL FIVE TRACKS ARE VERY GOOD FOR YOU, ARE YOU AT THE POINT NOW THAT YOU EXPECTED TO BE HALF WAY THROUGH THE CHASE? “Well we have met every goal that we have set out for ourselves so far this year. I think as you look at, the goals are obviously up to this point, have been good for us. The first five tracks definitely aren’t our strong suit by any means and I think the last five are much better. I felt really good about our Phoenix test, and the things that we had out there. Compared to how we had been running on the old style track. Obviously Homestead has been really good for us as well. The next five statistically have been good, but I think statistics don’t matter; it is really all about what you have for me now. You have got to go out and make it happen and you have to control the things that you can control, not make any mistakes and perform. You have to perform well too to make all this happen. There are just a lot of things that go into it and I think we have set goals, we have paced ourselves, nobody is real wound up, we had a good plan going into the chase and that is still being played out, so I feel like strategically we have done a lot of things right. It is yet to be seen if the stats are on our side for the next five so we will see.”
WHEN THE RACE CHANGES OVER THE LAST TEN LAPS FROM TWO-BY-TWO TO GROUPING UP TO WHO IS GOING TO WIN THE RACE, CAN YOU CONTROL WHEN THAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WITH WHO YOU ARE DRAFTING WITH, CAN YOU PUT YOURSELF IN WHAT YOU THINK IS GOING TO BE THE RIGHT POSITION? “It all depends. It is not going to change, it is going to be more two-by-two pairs that form that pack and it is just a matter of keeping your cars connected, that is really what it comes down to. It is just about trying to time that last run to be able to, if you are the lead car you have to go into defense and if you are the trailing cars you look for the most available hole to put your cars in to make progress towards the front. It just really depends on how it all shakes out, whether there is a late caution and it is a bigger group, are you coming off a pit stop, has somebody broke away from the pack, there are a thousand different scenarios that are constantly running through you mind as to where you need to be on the race track. Do I need to be high, do I need to be low, am I on offense, defense, what is happening. Those are constant evaluations of the situation that you are in as you are going through the five to go, four to go, three to go, two to go , and where you put yourself.”
DOES THERE BECOME A CONCERN THAT GOING BACK TO THE PACK RACING CREATES ISSUES OR IS IT JUST DIFFERENT ISSUES THAT YOU HAVE WITH TWO CAR TANDEMS? “I mean we have raced in packs, we have raced in tandems, there is a lot of smart people in the garage that can’t figure out why that we have two cars that are connected that run faster than cars in a whole pack. I wish we could all figure it out but, we don’t really know why that is. I really think that the evolution of the way that restrictor plate racing has gone, I think if the tracks would have been re-paved years ago, you would have seen the same bump drafting style that you see now. With the re-pavement of the race tracks it gives it a tremendous amount of grip. I don’t know that you can take that away without making the grip of the race track go away, that is really what changed the game.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE MINDSET OF COMING HERE WITH A POSITIVE OUTLOOK AND ENJOYING THIS STYLE OF RACING AS OPPOSED TO DREADING THIS STYLE OF RACING? “These race tracks have been here for a long time. The biggest race in our sport if a restrictor plate race and it is just part of our sport, you do the things that you have to do to adjust to being as good as you can on each particular style of racetrack so that you can get the best results and have the best success that you can each and every week. This is just part of the game and we happen to enjoy it, Richard ( Childress, Car Owner) enjoys it, they have always put a lot of effort in and the cars have always ran pretty good, so that makes it a lot easier.”
HOW AWARE ARE YOU OF WHERE THE ELEVEN “CHASE” CONTENDERS ARE ON THE TRACK? ARE THERE GUYS OUT THERE THAT YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE AROUND NEAR THE END OF THE RACE? “When you get to the end of the race, you just do what you have to do no matter, who you are around. Sometimes you don’t want to be around them, but it is just the nature of the beast and you just hope for the best there at the end. The middle of the race and the beginning of the race you can get yourself, and take yourself out of positions and make that track position back up during the race. You can tell the guys that you don’t want to be around and they are usually the same guys week after week. At the end you just have to do what you think is right and keep going forward.”
WHEN YOU HAVE A TOUGH SITUATION LIKE WE SAY LAST WEEKEND AT LAS VEGAS, WITH WHAT HAPPENED WITH DAN WHELDON, HOW DOES THAT IMPACT YOU AS A DRIVER TO COME BACK TO THE RACE TRACK, ESPECIALLY A PLACE LIKE THIS, WHEN THERE IS SO MUCH UNKNOWN? “I feel good about where our sport is and the safety procedures and precautions and everything that NASCAR has continuously developed through the years. I think when you look at IndyCar racing, in particular and you look at the style of cars that they race and don’t get me wrong, when I say this, IndyCar has been responsible for being a big part of the safer barriers, and they have a constant effort to be a part of the safety precautions and safety measures that are continuously getting better year after year. They do a good job, but the bottom line is, those cars are running really fast and your head is hanging out of the cockpit and some things are going to happen. It is part of our business.”
DID YOU RUN THE SMALLER SPOILER YESTERDAY, AND IF SO WHAT WERE YOUR IMPRESSIONS? “We ran the smaller spoiler by ourselves but, never ran it with another car. Smaller spoiler just went faster.”