An interview with: Kevin Harvick
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference. Our guest today is Kevin Harvick. Harvick has finished in the top five in three consecutive races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Our Twitter question today is: Does your standings in the points standings reflect to you how you performed in the season?
I think for us it's about going down there and trying to get the best finish you can.
KEVIN HARVICK: I think we want to race for the championship. I think with the performance that we had through the year, it definitely shows we've had a decent year. But we need to get better and we need to make things better for next year as we move through the winter, contend for the championship just like we did last year through the end.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now go to the media for questions for Kevin Harvick.
Q. Kevin, when you approach this Homestead race, what is your outlook on this? On one hand you're trying to maintain your position in points right now, but on the other hand you have two drivers that are battling each other for a championship. How does that change if you're racing around Tony or Carl?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think for us it's about going down there and trying to get the best finish you can. Obviously we want to do the best we can in the season-ending points standings, and that's finish third, where we are right now.
Obviously you don't want to have an effect on the points championship. We'll do whatever we can to try to get a Chevrolet into the championship circle there at the end of the season without doing something crazy.
If we can help Tony in any way, we will.
Q. You're pretty good at Homestead. What is it about this track that you do so well at?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, must be the weather. I don't know. It's been a good racetrack for us. We were good on the flat surface. Obviously with the new surface, it's gone well.
It's just been one of those racetracks we've been fortunate to go to that everything kind of fits the styles of the way our cars are built to run and my driving style. It's definitely been a good racetrack for us and we're looking forward to going down there and closing out the season strong this week.
Q. Kevin, do you think the Truck or Nationwide race will be emotional for you with it being the last races for KHI in the way we know it?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think as we go into Friday night as we race the Truck, we want to go down and do like we've done the whole year: contend for the win, try to win the last race, that would be neat. To have won the owners championship and have a chance to win the last race, that would be great.
The Nationwide cars will race for the last time under the current way the company is structured. There are some emotions. I got over those nine or ten weeks ago. It will be interesting to see how those emotions are as they push the cars and trucks into the trailers for the last time.
The transformation that's been happening at the shop as we've gone through the last several weeks of stuff being moved and transferred and things kind of starting to take a new look of the way the buildings will function as we move forward kind of has put it all into perspective from several weeks ago.
I don't think it will be that big of an emotional shock to know that's the last one.
Q. When you say it's put it in perspective, it's strange seeing empty spaces where there was stuff?
KEVIN HARVICK: Actually, it's a huge relief. That's the feeling that DeLana and I have been going through for the last several weeks, knowing this is the last week. We think we have laid out a better plan for the performance of the race teams and cars going forward and our sponsors as we go forward at RCR with KHI looking a lot different than it does now.
As we move forward, I've been at the shop at RCR looking at the new Nationwide shop, seeing where the Trucks are going to go. There's a lot of things moving and shaking at RCR.
I really get to do all the same things. But the things you have to worry about on a day-to-day basis, Richard and our whole team are looking after those things. It's been a fun transition and I'm really looking forward to the future and the performance of the vehicles.
Q. You know Austin quite well. He's driven your Nationwide car. This weekend he is in position to win the Truck Series championship. I wanted your thoughts on the success he's enjoyed this season.
KEVIN HARVICK: Austin has done a great job. I think Austin and Ty have a great future in this sport. For me that's one of the most exciting parts moving forward, is to watch their careers grow, hopefully give them some advice that will help them through the early stages of their career.
As we go into this weekend, he needs to be smart about what he does. He has a pretty healthy lead. It's good to race for championships. I think as you go through your career, no matter what kind of championship it is, if you have the opportunity to race and get those feelings and emotions of ups and downs of the end of the year as you're trying to close that championship out, you remember those thoughts and experiences forever that carry on into other championships.
So it's been fun to see it evolve over the last couple years. Obviously went through building a brand-new Truck team they built last year and this year they've been in contention all year and won a couple races. It's great to see success and they're both good kids.
Q. Kevin, as far as the off-season goes, I use that term loosely, what are your plans Thanksgiving, Christmas, that kind of thing? How soon do you get into the routine of getting ready for 2012?
KEVIN HARVICK: They never really let you have a lot of off time. We get Thanksgiving off, then we go straight into another four days of mandatory NASCAR functions at the banquet. We'll go do that, then we'll come home and start with our photo shoots and things that we do for the typical off-season.
The biggest thing about the off-season is I'd go crazy if we didn't have anything to do. Doing the photo shoots, appearances here and there are great to kind of break up the off-season. We might do a little bit of testing as we head off into the next couple months. But the biggest thing about it is nine times out of ten you get to sleep in your own bed, so that's a big change for us.
Q. Is there anything you look forward to next year that may be different with all the experience you've had in the Chase?
KEVIN HARVICK: No, I enjoy the competition of the sport. There's nothing better than rolling back into Daytona and seeing the enthusiasm, all the guys around you, really the whole garage for that matter. We always talk about how long the season it is, how much of a grind it is. You lock us up, give us a few weeks off, we get bored pretty fast. It's hard to be as busy as we are to absolutely almost nothing.
I think that first race is something to look forward to, to get to see everybody. Just the competition of the sport is what drives us. It's what keeps us going. I enjoy that part of it and look forward to it every year.
Q. As far as the Chase goes, you have a lot of experience with it. Do you think that is a big benefit for you going into 2012?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, there's really only one thing that I look forward to, and that's the day that we hopefully win this championship. We've been fortunate to experience a lot of the big moments in the sport, whether it be the Daytona 500, any of the other big races, whether it's Nationwide or Truck, we've been a part of those championships, and we've raced for the Truck championship. That's the big box left open without the check in it that Richard and our whole organization want to put a check in hopefully as quickly as possible.
Q. You had such a great run with both your Nationwide and Truck Series teams. For it basically to come down to an accident to throw the championship up in the air, how does that feel?
KEVIN HARVICK: The way I look at it is neither of those accidents cost us the championship. I think as you look back at the season, the Truck Series program, for instance, Ron got off to a rough start at Daytona, then they had several good weeks. The middle of the season was just kind of a disaster I guess you could say. We put the pieces back together I guess for the last third of the season. Really they were playing catch-up for the whole time.
You can look at the Nationwide team and have those same arguments. They didn't win any races. You got to have some cushion in there. You got to perform to the level that you need to perform at to not have it come down to one race.
I don't think either of those accidents are the reasons we didn't win those championships.
THE MODERATOR: Kevin, thank you very much for your time today. We appreciate it. Best of luck this weekend in Homestead.
KEVIN HARVICK: Thank you.