Kevin Harvick , No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo, discusses next week's Brickyard 400 race and current season with the media: HAVE YOU GIVEN A LOT OF THOUGHT TO THE BRICKYARD? "We've been working hard to get ourselves where we need...
Kevin Harvick , No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo, discusses next week's Brickyard 400 race and current season with the media:
HAVE YOU GIVEN A LOT OF THOUGHT TO THE BRICKYARD?
"We've been working hard to get ourselves where we need to be for the 26 race stretch. But to go back and have it be a year later and know what we accomplished last year is really exciting. We've always run really good at The Brickyard. I think the worst we've finished has been 11th in the three years that we've been there. It's a good race for us and it's exciting for us to go back knowing that we've won there."
WHAT STANDS OUT IN YOUR MIND ABOUT WINNING THE BRICKYARD 400?
"Just growing up and wanting to race in the Indy 500 and I got to accomplish that in a stock car. It kind of fulfills your dream almost is probably the neatest thing. To be there in victory lane and take the victory lap and kiss the bricks and do all the things that go along with winning was really neat for me and for the whole team."
HOW DO YOU COMPARE INDIANAPOLIS TO DAYTONA?
"I think as far as stock car racing goes that the Daytona 500 is still the marquis event. But for me personally, I grew up racing wanting to race Indy cars and wanting to race in the Indy 500 someday, so for me it was probably as big a win as anything."
WHAT'S YOUR OPINION OF THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED RULE?
"I've always been a fan of the green-white-checkered. People pay a lot of money to come watch these races and deserve to have them finish under green. I think it was the right move to just do one because it can be a mess. But it's exciting and that's what everybody wants to see is excitement."
WHAT'S YOUR SEASON BEEN LIKE SO FAR?
"Confusing. Last week, we had probably the best car we've had all year and finished 13th. So we've just got to quit making mistakes and really finish the year out here pretty much mistake-free and just do what we have to do to show what we've got. I think we can do that.
"Different things have been going wrong. The last couple of weeks we've been really happy with the performance of the race car (but) we've just made mistakes."
ON RETURNING TO POCONO FOR THE SECOND TIME AROUND
"Last time here was probably the best we've ever run here. Of course we had the whole incident with Matt (Kenseth), and we wound up finishing 20th. We think we've got a little bit better car and a little bit better engine. We spent a day in Kentucky this week just trying to get things a little bit better situated. I think that should help. We've just got to get a top 10 out of here."
AS THE DEFENDING BRICKYARD 400 WINNER, WHAT IS YOUR LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE GOING BACK?
"It does a lot for your confidence - just knowing we've done well every time we've been there and knowing the sensation of winning at The Brickyard. It feels good to win anywhere, but it's a little bit more exciting there. It has a little bit more meaning than anywhere else. It's definitely exciting to go back and I'm looking forward to getting our weekend started."
BETWEEN NOW AND THE FINAL 10 RACES, WHICH RACE IS THE ONE YOU'RE MOST WORRIED ABOUT?
"Right here (Pocono). This is the one we want to knock off badly and get to race number 26. After this, we feel really good about the rest of them. We don't feel bad coming here, but we just haven't had the results here we've needed."
ASSUMING YOU STAY IN THE FINAL 10, WILL EVERYBODY ELSE AT RCR CONCENTRATE ON YOUR PROGRAM AS FAR AS ENGINES AND TIRES, ETC?
"I think that's the plan going in is to take all the resources from all three race teams and trying to make it the best we can for the final 10 races. They say they've got a plan and hopefully we can utilize it in the last 10 races.
"This is a race team that's been really consistent. We've made some mistakes this year and for some reason we just haven't been one of those 'win a lot of races' race team. We've been in position the end of last year and even this year, but we just haven't capitalized on it. It's not that we haven't put ourselves in position; we just haven't capitalized on a lot of situations. We all want to win, but it's just hard to put it all together."
DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING TO BE ON A ROLL AGAIN LIKE YOU WERE THIS TIME LAST YEAR?
"Oh yeah. You can feel it. Everybody knows that we can do it. Everybody wants it and everybody is working as hard as they can."
HAVE YOU SAVED SOME TESTS FOR THE CHASE?
"This week was the first time we really tested. Well, we went to Milwaukee and we went to Kentucky, so we haven't burned any tests. I think we have four or five or six tests left for toward the end of the year."
NOW THAT A YEAR HAS PASSED SINCE YOU WON THE BRICKYARD 400, WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THAT WIN FOR YOU?
"It's the biggest thing I've done in my career. Obviously you can't win your first race twice. That's a big moment. To do what we did last year and know the aspirations I had as a kid and to grow up and actually go to Indianapolis and win at The Brickyard - not in an Indy car but in a stock car - is probably almost unrealistic when you think about it. When you grow up and you want to do something, nine times out of 10 you don't get to go it that way. I'm pretty lucky to be able to do what I do and to bring back a lot of thoughts and dreams and things. To actually get to do it at Indy is really cool for me."
DO YOU REFLECT ON THAT WIN WHEN YOU LOOK AT YOUR TROPHY?
"Well, they take all my trophies. They won't let me put them in the house because they there's not enough room. So they're at the shop. I have it in my office. Every time you walk in or you look up, the trophy's sitting right there. It can't bring back any bad memories, that's for sure. It's exciting to go back. The most exciting part is that we always run well at Indianapolis.
OBVIOUSLY RICHARD CHILDRESS IS PRETTY OPEN TO YOU GUYS RUNNING THE INDY 500. DO YOU HAVE ANY ASPIRATIONS OF DOING THAT?
"I'd like to possibly try it once, or maybe twice. I don't know. It's just something where we have to pay a lot of attention to what we've got going on here. There is a lot of time and effort into what we've going on here to screw it up in one weekend."
SHOULD NASCAR ALLOW SUBSTITUTE DRIVERS TO EARN POINTS FOR A DRIVER WHO GET INJURED AND CAN'T START THE RACE?
"I think that would probably be wrong. There's also an argument that it could be right because of the race team if we had one point system. It's a team sport. In basketball, the team goes on without their star player and in football the team goes on, and in baseball the team goes on. You could argue it both ways. It's unfortunate that he (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) got hurt. The way it is right now, you've got to get in the car if you want points. It is what it is, I guess."
ON THE PERFORMANCE OF ALL RCR TEAMS SO FAR THIS YEAR) "Robbie (Gordon) has run decent at times this year and the No. 30 has probably run better in the last couple of weeks than it has for pretty much ever. But it's hard because those two teams need to be better to make our race team better. It's hard to have three race teams and have our team well - not every week, but we run well. It's hard to have teams that struggle because you spend a lot of time trying to make those teams run better instead of concentrating on the little things to make the whole organization run better. We've got to work, on that. I know it frustrates him (Childress) as much as it frustrates anybody else. That's probably the biggest thing that we need is for those two teams to run better to take us for the next step."
DOES GM GOODWRENCH PUT PRESSURE ON YOU?
"They don't put any pressure on us. They know how the sport works and know how hard it is. They've been around it for a long time and understand how it works. There's pressure on us from day one to go out and try to be in the top 10 and win races and win a championship. I think we probably put more pressure on ourselves than anybody. They know that. They know we're doing everything we can.
"Very rarely - unless I do something stupid - do you hear anything from them. We just go about our business and do what we have to do."
WHAT'S THE KEY TO WINNING AT INDY?
"Track position. You have to have a good car and all that, but you have to play your pit strategy right and put yourself in position for that last run. Every year that I've been there, that's how it's worked out. It's one of those things where you have to have four tires on your car, but you also have to put yourself in the front of the pack so you don't get stuck in a big glob."
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FOR A DRIVER TO RACE AT POCONO FOR FOUR HOURS?
"Pocono is a place where the race seems like it takes forever. We run 500 miles and it takes 50-some seconds to get around the race track. It's one of those places where you have to mentally make sure you're prepared for the race because you're going to be in the car for a while. Physically, it's as demanding as anywhere because you have to shift and things like that. But I don't think it's any more demanding than anywhere else."
ON SHIFTING AT POCONO
"There are a lot of different approaches to it. A lot of guys shift just down the front straightaway. A lot of guys shift on all three straightaways. We usually just shift on two straightaways. You can shift six times a lap or you can shift two times a lap. It just depends on your motor package and the strategy you have with fuel mileage and things like that going into the race."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE '05 TRUCK SCHEDULE?
"I think it's going to be good for the series to get them in front of more people on the Cup weekends as companion events. There are 16 including IRP. It's going to be good. I'm glad they didn't add more races because of the budgets. They're set pretty much and it costs more to add more. I wish they had Darlington on there but it's just one of those things you have to live with."
DO YOU HAVE ANY SUPERSTITIONS?
"I used to have the green superstition, but Bobby Labonte wins races and championships with his car.
"About the only thing that makes me nervous is peanut shells. We had a bad experience. It just seems that way. Maybe it's something to blame. We had peanuts in the pits one time and the car blew up or something. That's about it really."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT CAUTION LIGHTS OR BRAKE LIGHTS BEING PUT ON THE CARS?
"I don't know about brake lights. It seems kind of hokey to me. I agree with the caution lights. One thing they could do to help that is to put a light on the spotter's stand. A lot people don't realize that we have these radios that scan and when I'm talking or the crew is talking, it overrides the NASCAR scanner on the radio. Sometimes the spotters don't hear that the caution has come out. There is not a light every five feet for the driver to see. Sometimes you've got to go through the corner to see your next light.
"But I think lights on the dash would be good. They're just trying to figure out one that somebody can't tamper with. Hopefully they're getting close to that."
SHOULD THEY DROP THE MILEAGE HERE AT POCONO?
"You don't really want to know what I think they should drop here. It is a long race and I know that Delana thinks it's boring sometimes because you only get to see them every 55 seconds or whatever it is until they come down the front stretch. It's a long race track to see around. It's a long race to sit through. When you're at home watching it on TV, I know when the races get too long I usually fall asleep (laughs). But it's something where it probably would be good to be a little bit shorter."
GIVEN YOUR SPOT IN THE POINTS RIGHT NOW, IS THERE A TEMPTATION TO BE CONSERVATIVE AND PROTECT YOUR POSITION?
"IF you go conservative, the guys behind you are going to be wide open. I don't think you can do that. Usually you get yourself in more trouble when you're on defense instead of offense. You just have to go about your business and do what you have to do to win the race."
ON THE CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP
"You have to go through the whole thing once and see how it shakes out and then we can criticize it or talk about whatever we nee to talk about then. We need at least one full experience of the point system."
HOW MANY POSITIONS OUTSIDE OF THE TOP 10 MIGHT MAKE IT INTO THE TOP 10 BY RACE 26?
"I think up to 15th as a legitimate shot."
WILL YOU BE ON THE OFFENSE OR DEFENSE DURING THE LAST 10 RACES?
"Oh, we'll definitely be on the offense. The last 10 races fit right into our style. We've just got to make sure we get to that point and then we'll be in good shape."