KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET met with media and discussed how his team has improved this year over last season, secret driver penalties, upcoming improvements to the Pocono race track, and more. ON RACING AT POCONO AND SEEKING...
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET met with media and discussed how his team has improved this year over last season, secret driver penalties, upcoming improvements to the Pocono race track, and more.
ON RACING AT POCONO AND SEEKING HIS FIRST VICTORY HERE "Yeah, we had a great race here at the first race of the season and we ran well last week, so it should be a good weekend for us. I enjoy driving the track and it's fun to try to get your car set up just because the corners are so different and you have some bumps and things to make everything mean something, so it's not like Indy last week where everything is dead smooth. We're going to have some character in the race track to work on this week."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT GOING BACK AND FORTH TO IOWA? IS ANYBODY GOING TO PRACTICE YOUR CAR TOMORROW? "Yeah, David Mayhew is going to practice the car and we'll go tomorrow after practice. It's pretty simple, really. We were going to go practice, but you can't make the practice tonight. It's kind of a long ways to fly a couple of hours for an hour of practice. So we'll just head up tomorrow."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT DAVID MAYHEW AND WHY WOULD YOU PUT HIM IN THE CAR TO PRACTICE? "He's had a lot of laps there in the west-series cars and won a race there last year. That's why."
IT WAS ANNOUNCED EARLIER THIS WEEK THAT A COUPLE OF DRIVERS HAVE BEEN FINED FOR COMMENTS THEY MADE PUBLICLY. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT WITH NASCAR'S 'HAVE AT IT BOYS' AND TRYING TO OPEN THINGS UP, AND THEN GIVING FINES FOR DRIVERS MAKING COMMENTS? "Well, I think if you got up here and said ESPN sucked, you'd get fired. In the end, it's everyone's responsibility to make sure that the sport is going in the right direction. 'Have at it Boys' on the race track is different than off the race track and having open reign on whatever you want to say about the sport because the last I checked most of us wouldn't be near as lucky having the jobs that we have if we didn't have this sport.
"So, it partially the responsibility of all of us to make sure that it goes in the right direction. So if you've got something to say, it's very easy to pick up the phone or walk over to the trailer and go express your feelings to somebody. And it's just not the right place to do it through this room (media center)."
IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ROUND TABLE, THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT HOW POCONO IS ONE OF THE MORE DANGEROUS COURSES THAT YOU RUN. WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THAT? "I think everybody has obviously talked about the soft walls and everything. Talking with the guys at the race track this week, they obviously have a great plan as to fixing the walls and upgrading the catch fences and all those things. So I'm sure the guys from the race track, I'm pretty sure they've shared with most everybody but I'm pretty sure that they'd share with you guys exactly what their plans are to work on that. With seven weeks in between the races it was hard to put that plan into place in between these two races. It's a huge undertaking for the race track to spend the amount of money that they're going to spend with the upgrades they're going to have, and I'm glad to see that they have a plan to do that."
WHEN YOU ARE LEADING THE POINTS BUT COME UP SHORT OF A WIN LIKE LAST WEEK AT INDY, IS IT ALMOST FRUSTRATING? "Obviously to finish, I'm really happy. That shows how far we've come from last year, but having the year last year you don't get too wound up or disappointed for finishing second because a lot of places we couldn't run 22nd. So you take it and you move on. We've won that race before so you know what it's like and the prestige that comes with winning at the Brickyard and that's where the disappointment comes from. But you move on and you come here and you hope that you have the same opportunity again. We've capitalized a couple times this year on winning races like that and a couple of them we've lost. So, it's just part of the sport and what racing is all about. If the caution doesn't come out, we drive away winning a race. Jamie's (McMurray) car doesn't take off the first time, my car took off the first time; the second time mine didn't take off and his did. So you wish you knew why, but it's just one of those deals."
WHEN YOU WERE HERE LAST TIME, YOU TALKED ABOUT CLICKING ON ALL CYLINDERS ONCE THE CHASE STARTS. DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE TEAM IS GOING IN THAT DIRECTION? "Yeah, we've had a couple of good weeks. We've had a lot of good weeks since we were here last time. Chicago was probably the only place where we didn't run well and we had a mechanical failure. Those are the things that you want to get out of the way now and you want to know why. We want to understand and we think we understand what we did wrong at Chicago, set-up-wise. We've just got to keep doing the things that we're doing. I feel like we've got better cars and engines than we had the last time we were here. So those are the things we've got to keep doing heading toward the Chase and hopefully we can continuously progress as we get through these next six weeks and be ready for the Chase."
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST TURNAROUND FROM LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR FOR YOUR TEAM? "Really, everything (laughs). I think the only thing that's been constantly good from last year to this year is the engine department. Last year at Indy we brought out all new cars and that's where we started. And that starts with chassis, bodies, components in the steering, and so we got the race cars headed in the right direction and those have evolved into what they are today. And then just (team owner) Richard (Childress) just making the commitment financially to spend the money to turn all those products around. Usually you budget for a set amount of cars per team per year and you don't usually budget for all new cars for all four teams last year.
"So that part was good. I think moving Scott Miller to being the competition director has helped take some decision-making off of Richard from the completion side and let him kind of overview it and give his opinion to Scott and really just let him run with things. Scott, being the engineering-minded person that he is, has helped the engineering department just have some direction and work on things. Those two things, along with some other little management structural changes with the teams and things like that have helped point us in the right direction."
DO YOU EXPECT WATKINS GLEN TO BE AS PHYSICAL OF A RACE AS IT WAS IN SONOMA? "The road courses have become more like short courses but I don't think it'll be as bad as Sonoma just because there is more room to race. It's obviously a lot faster. But there will definitely be bent doors and bumpers just because of how close the competition has become at the road course with the double-file restarts. That's usually what causes most of the contact."
DID YOU DO ANYTHING CRAZY GROWING UP THAT WOULD PREPARE YOU FOR ROAD COURSE RACING ON THE CUP CIRCUIT? "I road-raced from the time I was five in my go-kart."
NOTHING ON THE BACK ROADS OF BAKERSFIELD? "Ah, probably a couple of things here and there, but nothing too dramatic. It would have been better for like an off-road race with jumps and things. I had a cool jump in front of my house that used to go over from one street to the other. My dad didn't like that but it was in fun in his truck (laughter)."
A MONTH AGO YOU SAID YOU WEREN'T WORRIED ABOUT YOUR SPONSORSHIP SITUATION. IS THAT STILL THE CASE? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHEN ANYTHING MIGHT BE ANNOUNCED? "I think everything's good. I'd say you'll probably hear about it in the next month."
DO YOU THINK THAT BY SECRETLY FINING DRIVERS, IT ALMOST MAKES NASCAR LOOK WORSE THAN IF THEY HAD JUST COME OUT WITH IT AND SAID THIS IS WHY THE DRIVERS ARE BEING FINED INSTEAD OF TRYING TO HIDE IT? "Well, I think when you're hiding something you keep it to yourself. But there are a lot of people that are involved in decisions like that and lots of people know. Honestly, I don't think it's anybody's business. I don't think it's your business or anybody in this room's business. I think it's better to keep it between the teams because it's simpler."
WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THE SECRET PENALTIES ARE OR WHAT YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO SAY, SO WHY SHOULD WE BELIEVE WHAT ANY DRIVER SAYS OR ANY NASCAR OFFICIAL SAYS? MAYBE THERE IS SOMEBODY WHO IS GOING TO FINE YOU $50,000 FOR ANSWERING THIS QUESTION. DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN? "Good point. Don't care (laughter)."
-source: gm racing