Richmond II: GM top three, rookie press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Kyle you mentioned earlier just about the Chase upcoming, you like seven of the tracks and one is a toss-up, obviously Talladega; what are the tracks you feel are a concern and what can you do between now ...

Continued from part 1

Q: Kyle you mentioned earlier just about the Chase upcoming, you like seven of the tracks and one is a toss-up, obviously Talladega; what are the tracks you feel are a concern and what can you do between now and then?

KYLE BUSCH: Texas and Atlanta are two concerning tracks. We always tend to finish 12th at Atlanta, been there three times and finished 12th three times. We can run well in the middle part of the race and pass for the lead and do all of the great stuff that we can normally do at Charlotte or whatever, but at the end of the race for some reason we just fall off and can't be as good at the end.

Texas is a place that's always hindered my performance, especially in the Cup series. The Busch Series I had that one strong run of second place earlier this year, finished fourth, but have not quite been able to get the run in the Cup series yet. Hopefully that will turn around at the end of the year. Not sure what it is about that place to not run so well. Maybe just the banking falls off too much after throughout the exit of corners, but all in all, we'll just see how it goes and hopefully we can run well at the seven others where we can take care of just a finish with those two.

KERRY THARP: We are also pleased to be joined by our race winner, driver of the number 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick. Take us through your run tonight and you're also third in the points, talk about that.

KEVIN HARVICK: Obviously we had a good car all night and kind of lost the handling a little bit, third or fourth run there and made some good adjustments and were able to get the forward drive there back in the last run. Everything worked out there toward the end and we were able to get position off Kyle and get up off of four and get to the white flag. It's a last minute but in the end it all works and we're excited to go into the Chase third where we came in. That was our goal tonight, was to leave here ten points behind and going into the Chase as close as we could.

Q: Jeff Burton a minute ago was talking about not expecting you to sort of reciprocate with as much respect because he wasn't running well in recent years. Had your perception of him as a competitor changed at all and has it possibly changed again this year because he is sort of back?

JEFF GORDON: Well, there's no doubt that, you know, the thought goes through everybody's mind, you guys included that, you remember the times when he was with the number 99, and I remember battling with him for a lot of race wins, championships, you know, and it just seemed to fall off. They had some members of their team sort of shuffle around and all of a sudden the performance wasn't there. I never doubted for a second that it was Jeff Burton. I always thought he was one of the top drivers. You know, it just seemed like it was there and they were just, you know, right on the edge of winning the championship, and then it was gone and then you didn't even hear about him.

You know, I think it's a bold move on his part to make the move to RCR and obviously that's paid off. I never had a lack of respect for Jeff, because I've battled too hard with him over the years so I know what kind of a competitor he is. I think it's refreshing to see a guy go through those types of times and be able to come back the way he has.

Q: Kevin, really, what this is looking like, as well as you've been running, you could conceivably win both series, and I know you've been asked about this but it's really looking a lot more legitimate for you now. Do you just not even think about that at this point or do you take the success you're having in both of them?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think you have to take the success and just kind of be happy. It's something where we're fortunate to be in the position that we're in, with the way our Cup car is in, we have a realistic shot of doing what we need to do to run for the Cup championship. But it's going to come down to, you know, not having a bad break or something going wrong and the guy that wins it is going to have ten good weeks. If we can keep the momentum up, obviously we have a chance.

We understand it's reality and compared to where we were the last couple of years, just to be in that position, we're really fortunate to have turned everything around and just excited to have the opportunity to race for both of them.

Q: You mentioned momentum. Do you feel it when you go back to the garage and also, since you made the decision to renew with Richard, can you talk about that a little?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think all year everything has gone really well, even in the middle of all the contracting stuff and everything that we had going on. Richard and I were on the same page pretty much throughout the whole process, and understood where each other were coming from.

It's nice for everybody to be on the same page and pulling in the same directions. I have two great teammates that I get along really well with. You know, we respect each other and push each other and try to make each other better. So it's something to where the guys, they are pumped up and we feel like -- we feel like, you know, we can race for the championship and feel like we're capable of being able to compete for that.

So if we can keep the momentum up and not have the bottom fall out one week and something go wrong, I feel like we have as good a chance as anybody.

Q: Why not just ride at the end? I mean, you had the Chase won, I know everybody is going to ask you that -- why not just take what you had?

KEVIN HARVICK: I'd rather flip over and run tenth in the Chase than give up a chance to win a race. You know, with five to go, I started dialing a bunch of rear braking. We were pretty much even, and Todd and I and Richard and everybody - we've talked about it before - if you have a chance to win the race, you have to win the race. They are too hard to come by. You know, everything else is secondary at that point.

You'll suffer the circumstances if something goes wrong, but it's too hard to put yourself in that position to go out and try to win. So like I say, I'd rather flip over backwards and start tenth in the Chase than give up a chance to try to win.

Q: Kevin, in the past when you've talked about trying to make it in the Chase, you had said before that you thought that the last ten races were good races for you if you get in. Now that you're in, can you just talk about what you like about these last ten races and then how you typically run pretty well in them?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think our results in the past probably don't show up as well as we feel like we can perform at those particular racetracks. You know, I think Dover is probably a question mark for us just for the fact that, you know, we've kind of been up and down there, but we had a chance to win a race there at the beginning of the year. It's all going to come down to circumstances. I don't feel like we have a weak point. I think you're going to show up and have an off-weekend, that's going to be the weekends -- everybody is going to have an off-weekend but those are the weekends that dictate who is going to win the championship just for the fact of recovery and making something out of those bad weekends.

Q: Having a teammate with you in this Chase, how important is that, or is that any kind of advantage for you?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think it's definitely something to where Jeff and I communicate well and help each other as much as possible. I think it's definitely good for the company. I think that's the most important thing is it's great for RCR to have both of our cars in there. I feel like both of us have run well enough to be in the Chase this year and earned that. You know, we're going to give it everything we have. I know we've got a pretty good plan going in as far as cars and engines and things like that as far as what we're going to race. We'll just let it all hang out and see where it all winds up.

Q: You were discussing how you and the 31 have run so well. You guys seem to be able to sustain that throughout an entire race. They are very fast early and sometimes towards the middle of races, but they seem to fade at the end. Do you have any sort of explanation for that?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think sometimes when you're as fast as they have been at the beginning of races, I think sometimes you get behind on your car because you're out in clean air and you're out in front. I think when you're able to run in a little bit of traffic and make the adjustments, you need to make the run better, I think that's somewhat of an advantage toward the end of the race.

Sometimes you get out there and lead and think, "I don't want to touch my car," and everybody else is making adjustments, and I think they have just kind of been in that position a couple of times and haven't had the chance to make their car better when everybody else was.

Q: Your teams is just overflowing with confidence right now, a lot of momentum. Was there a race you could think of or a time during the race where everything kind of changed, the momentum changed, the level of confidence changed?

KEVIN HARVICK: I'd have to go back and really think about that. I know the first part of the season was kind of filled with some bumps in the road. At Daytona we had some carburetor trouble and then wound up crashing.

You know, Atlanta, we got into a little wreck and wound up going several laps down. I don't think that there's one particular spot. We really have been pretty relaxed and just kind of taking it one week at a time and really not worrying about what happened last week or whether it was good or bad. You have to get over that and go on to the next race.

So you know, Todd and myself have been together for the most part of seven years and a lot of our team has been together for, you know, a fair amount of that time as well.

You know, from our original Busch team, all of the guys that came out of that shop are still in the shop. So it's a pretty close-knit bunch of people and we're all good influences on each other to help pick each other up. That's what it's all about, team morale and keeping everybody moving in the right direction.

Q: What is the journey been like over the last couple years to get back to this platform for this organization; people are going to look at two years happen quickly but what was it like for you?

KEVIN HARVICK: I've left competition meetings before with everybody looking at me like I was the biggest butt in the whole entire world because they didn't like what I had to say. But I think in the end, I may not know how to express it the correct way, but I think they all heard where I was coming from and it wasn't just me. You know, at some point you have to stop and reevaluate everything that's going on and nobody was pointing fingers and everybody just stopped and Richard said, "Here is what we're going to do. We're going to come up with a new plan."

We stopped about halfway through last year and built all brand new cars, redid a lot of things in our engine shop, reorganized personnel and reorganized personnel through the whole shop.

Jeff came in about a year and a half ago, and there's just been a lot of things that have taken place that Richard is so into it, it's not even funny. He's excited to be at the racetrack. He's at the shop too many hours during the day. He drives himself crazy over every situation, but I mean, that's what it takes. I mean, this is a full-time business. I always tell the guys, they go on vacation, there's no time for vacation during the year. That's not how it's supposed to be. I give them a lot of grief over that but it should go to where there's not just one thing you can point out, just a whole bunch of things come together.

Q: You said a lot of reevaluation; what did you reevaluate about yourself?

KEVIN HARVICK: I'll be honest with you. I would have fired my butt three or four years ago. (Laughter) But, you know, Richard is the type of person that he gives you a chance and let's you explore the world and try to realize who you are.

As you get older - I think a lot of people in this room understand - as you get older you become more mature and you understand situations. I think understanding my race team has helped me understand a lot of situations in different circumstances with Richard and where he's coming from and understanding how important the personnel are on your teams and how hard those people are to come by and you just can't go out and scream and yell and make them mad every week. Eventually you're going to run out of good people, but when you have good people, you need to hang on to them and treat them right.

Q: You raced with Kyle for about 60, 70 laps towards the end; describe racing with Kyle and tell me how you timed your move.

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, we were pretty even. You know, I got up under him a couple times and spun the tires up off the corner. As the run went on there with about ten to go, I said, "Man, I just really am out of things to try here." His car was tight, I could see that but my car was as tight as his. Todd came on the radio and said, "Try to put some rear break in the thing and get to rotate a little sooner." I put a couple rounds in back and I started catching him. At that point I was winding him in as fast as I could wind him in coming down the straightaway and the thing would slide getting into the corner and pulled across the center about two laps, I was on his bumper. Got to him one and two, rolled the center pretty good, kind of got up against his back bumper, got up underneath him going down the back straightaway and at that point I knew we were coming to the white flag. So it was either going to be -- how should I put this -- it was going into turn one as far as I needed to go to take the position, so it was one of those deals where you see the light and you just do whatever you have to do at that point.

Q: Did the decals (ph) help you win tonight?

KEVIN HARVICK: I had that extra second that those Bare Naked Ladies gave me with their decals (ph), they were really worth it. (Laughter)

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Kevin Harvick