KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed racing at Pocono, having the points lead and other topics. TALK ABOUT RACING AT POCONO: "For me, Pocono is a lot of fun. It's become a...
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed racing at Pocono, having the points lead and other topics.
TALK ABOUT RACING AT POCONO: "For me, Pocono is a lot of fun. It's become a very challenging race track just because there's a lot of bumps and the tires fall off so you have to work on really getting your car to handle well. I know the motors will run good. I'm really pretty excited about all the gains that we've made and knowing that we ran well here last year and knowing how much better the cars are this year, we're really looking forward to the race this weekend."
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO SEE JIMMIE JOHNSON AND THE 48 TEAM STRUGGLE?: "I think we all go through moments or periods of time where you struggle and obviously they've been really good. I don't know that you could actually call it a struggle until you get through the whole year and see how the year winds up. They've had a bad couple weeks, some of their doing and some not of their doing. Just have to wait and see how the whole year winds up before you see how that really all plays out."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW THE SWITCH FROM THE WING TO THE SPOILER COULD AFFECT RACING AT POCONO?: "Typically with the spoiler you seem to be a little more aggressive, just because it seems like it has more rear grip. That's definitely not going to hurt anything here. I think the biggest thing is that you will probably see the cars draft up a little bit better than what they did before with the long straight-aways. That should be interesting on the restarts, already with the double file restarts and now with that aspect of it. I think it will change a little bit, but I don't think it's going to change dramatically, but I think from a driver's standpoint, it will probably be a benefit for us as far as grip."
ARE YOU AWARE OF WHERE YOU ARE IN TRYING TO MAKE THE CHASE?: "I think for us, I think the biggest thing is it's about the 13th place gap. That's the biggest thing. For us, in the end, it's a 10-week sprint and I keep telling them, you can beat them in the first 10 then you can beat them in the last 10. Nobody is going to race any different than what they're racing right now and obviously you want to stay on top of the cycle of staying ahead of the game on the performance side of it, but it's all just a matter of putting together 10 weeks and we put together the first 10 weeks and for us, we want to put together the last 10 weeks and be competitive for the championship at the end. Right now, it's all about making the Chase and being the position that we're in right now, we want to win a couple more races to get the bonus points. Those are the first two things on the top of our mind right now are trying to get some more bonus points and making the Chase."
WHAT HAS THE DIFFERENCE BEEN TO GET YOU ON TOP ON THE POINTS AND IS IT A SMALL DIFFERENCE?: "It really isn't as minute as you would think it would be. Last year, we were scratching our head saying, 'Where do we start?' Because everything was screwed up.
Basically, we started over and that's starts with your chassis, first you have to have a direction and that was the heart of what we needed to do of those conversations in this time period. It's a 180 from where we were last year, but it started with new cars and that starts with new chassis, new bodies, the engines have really have been the only constant that have been good throughout the period of time and I think we've seen tremendous amount of management restructuring and reorganization through the company. It's a different company than it was a year ago and a different thought process on how you approach and how you get to your setups and what you bring to the race track."
WHAT POSITIVE CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN WITH YOUR TEAM?: "I think the biggest positives have just been Scott Miller coming on as our competition director. I think Kent Day kind of guiding our engineering group in a direction was probably one of the biggest things we didn't have. We have a lot of direction on a lot of different things where before we didn't have as much guidance as I feel like we have now. The box that we work in is much different than the box that we worked in a year ago. Structure is just a lot better. We've always had the resources and the tools and the things we needed to go fast, they just weren't being utilized like they are today."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT RACING AT MICHIGAN?: "Michigan is fun just because of the fact that you can race from the wall to the bottom of the race track. The tires fall off a lot so you have to have a good handling car. If your car is not handling like you need it to, then there's options to move around the race track and try to find a groove that helps your car work better. It's a fun place to go and I think all of us look forward to going up there."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF THE PIT BOXES AND YOUR EXPERIENCES FROM NNS AND NCWTS?: "I think the main thing that those pit boxes are used for are sponsors. It allows the guests to sit up on the pit box and be a part of the action up close and personal. From an owner's perspective, they're expensive as hell. There is a lot of information, but in the end it's still the same stuff sitting up on the pit box, they just don't have to get off of the pit box to go look at their tire wear and stuff, they just hit a button and look at it on the screen. There's a lot of information that's used that they don't have to get up and go look at."
DO YOU ENJOY THE CHALLENGE OF POCONO?: "I really enjoy coming here. The track is unique and for me, that's one of the bright spots of coming here, that and the weather is usually nice and it's not as hot as everywhere else that we go. For me, turn one is really bumpy on the bottom, if you can get your car to work down there then you can pass people, but for the most part you have to run in the middle of the race track and there's a lot of high speed corners or there's a high speed corner in the tunnel turn back there. The patch really added a different element because you have options going into turn three now. There's a lot of unique challenges, not only is the race track unique shaped, but the challenges of the race track itself are fun and every lap its fun as a driver to go into the next turn because the tires are falling off and you have to adjust lap after lap."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE BEING OVERLOOKED AS A CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER?: "I think for me, I've been down this road a bunch of times and no offense, it really doesn't matter what you guys think, it's all about just performing on the race track and being solid week after week. Going through spurts of winning a couple races here and there aren't going to win the championship, it's just not going to happen. You have to be solid week in and week out. We need to win a couple more races before the Chase starts, but all in all you have to win a couple races, but you can't have 30th or 35th place finishes and be disastrous a couple weeks here and there. I feel like that's always been the strong point of our team has been consistency and this year the consistency happens to be that when you're having a bad day you finish. Like last week we had all kinds of things go wrong and we finished 11th. Those are the kinds of things that you have to do to win a championship. If we win in quietly, I'm fine with that."
IS A LIGHTER RACE CAR GIVING YOU A BETTER FEEL IN THE CAR AND HOW HAS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO THE PERFORMANCE THIS YEAR BY YOUR TEAM?: "I think anywhere the goal is to build it as light as possible. Weight has a lot to do with the things that have gone on, but I think there's just a lot of pieces that go with everything that has turned around what we have done. Everybody in the garage is very weight conscious of how much their race cars weigh and when it's time to not bring that car to the race track anymore because it weighs too much. It's a very weight conscious garage right now for sure."
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOING INTO A RACE AS THE POINTS LEADER VERSUS SOMEONE OUTSIDE THE TOP-12?: "That's for us, this is something that we hadn't really been a part of before. We've been 11th, 12th, 13th over the last couple years and it's been a few years since we've been able to just be solid week in and week out and just go race like you need to and not have to worry about whether you're going to make the Chase. We're not really chasing points right now, you're worried about those bonus points and trying to win. Coming in here, that's the main goal. You don't want to have any big disasters and lose that point chunk, but we have to go out and put ourselves in position to win. That for me, we can be more aggressive than we have been in the past in chasing those goals."
DOES NOT BEING ABLE TO SHIFT HERE STILL CAUSE A PROBLEM OR IS EVERYONE USED TO IT?: "As long as everybody is on the same plan, it doesn't pose really any problems. You see a lot less failures than what we've seen here in the past from engines and transmissions and drive train components than what we've seen here in the past. It was fun shifting, but I think in trying to shore up all the financial situations and cost containments of the sport, I think it was probably a good move. You spent a lot of money with transmission ratios and engines for this particular race."
-source: gm racing