KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Infineon Raceway and discussed racing at Sonoma, road course racing, the Chase, Daytona surface and other topics. TALK ABOUT COMING HERE TO INFINEON RACEWAY:...
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Infineon Raceway and discussed racing at Sonoma, road course racing, the Chase, Daytona surface and other topics.
TALK ABOUT COMING HERE TO INFINEON RACEWAY: "Looking forward to getting going today, it is our first road course race of the year. Hopefully we can have a good weekend and leave here happy."
LAST TIME WE WERE HERE AT SONOMA, YOU DEFERRED A LOT OF ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT PERFORMANCE, ETC. TO RICHARD. CAN YOU SUMMARIZE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WHERE YOU AND YOUR TEAM ARE NOW VERSUS WHERE YOU WERE ONE YEAR AGO? "The reason that we deferred a lot of them to Richard is because really, he was the only one who had the answers and the keys to the door, I guess you could say, to open it and move things around. There has been a lot of restructuring of the management. We've always had the tools to use, but now they are getting used a lot more and a lot more correctly than what they were before. He really held the keys to the whole situation. He moved a lot of people around. He made Scott (Miller) the competition director and in return, Scott uses Kent Day as our engineering head. He has given them some leeway to do the things that they thought they needed to do. Everybody seems to be a little more in tune as far as team to team, setups and things like that. The second piece of that equation is just the amount of money it took to put into the building of four new fleets of cars halfway through the year last year and taking a new direction with the engineering stuff. It is really a lot of stuff that he put into place to get it all turned around."
DO YOU THINK YOU ARE THERE? "I think we are close. I don't think we are that far off. We've lost a couple of races that we had a chance to win. We've won a couple that we've had a chance to win with the Shootout and Talladega. Last week was really the first week that we have had where we didn't have the speed, but that's been kind of one of our Achilles heals at Michigan over the years. I think we are close. We still have to get better, but we are at least a top-five car."
AT WHAT POINT TO YOU REALLY START PREPARING FOR THE CHASE IN EARNEST AND HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE CURRENT RACE WEEKEND AGAINST CHASE PREPARATION? "I think you have to start preparing for it now. It just takes so long to put the plans into place to get different things built than what is already in production. We can produce the current cars that we have and the current things on the cars fairly easily. But when start going in and start making new parts and new pieces and having to get the CNC shop scheduled because our CNC shop handles a lot of the motor parts and pieces so, everything has to get a little bit better. Obviously the stuff that we've been doing is good but, you see the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) running good and you just have to hit that streak right. You need to hit that streak that the No. 11 is on but you need to hit it in the Chase and make it count."
THE UPCOMING SHOW AT DAYTONA IS LAST RACE ON THE OLD SURFACE, ANY FEEL ON HOW IT IS GOING TO CHANGE THINGS FOR FEBRUARY? "I think the show is going to be exciting. I think it is going to look a lot like Talladega but obviously, the race track is a tremendous amount narrower. It'll be exciting and it will go back to like Talladega, it will be zero handling whatsoever. It will just be bring the fastest car that you have and play the chess match throughout the day and try to stay out of trouble and put yourself in position for the end. It is going to look a lot like Talladega, just on half of the race track."
WINS HERE USUALLY COME FROM TOP-10 QUALIFIERS, HOW DOES YOUR ROAD RACING SKILLS MATCH UP? DO YOU SEE IT AS A LIABILITY, ARE YOU AT ALL WORRIED ABOUT A SLIPUP OR ARE YOU CONFIDENT GOING IN? "There is always a possibility for a slipup no matter where you are. Last year we had a good car and I hit the tires in turn 11 and knocked the right front suspension off. It just takes one mistake and there are a lot of chances to make a mistake here, but we've always faired fairly well at the road course stuff. We've won at Watkins Glen. We've been close to winning here. We just have to go out and do what we do on a normal basis and the strategy is going to play into a lot of things that happen this weekend. You have to make sure your fuel mileage is good along with your care handling and all of those other things. But strategy is still once you get to that top-10 car, top-15 car, you still have to have the right strategy to win the race."
DO YOU MISS THE DOUBLE DUTY OF THE NATIONWIDE CAR OR ARE YOU LOOKING AT THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR KHI TO GIVE OTHER DRIVERS A CHANCE IN THE CAR? "My golf game has gotten a lot better. (LAUGHS) I haven't really missed it to be honest with you. This one is the worst one by far and it made it so it isn't really possible to not miss practice here and go race there because the Milwaukee race used to be at night. (Nationwide Series is running at Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin) I don't really miss it. I think it is a good opportunity for Ron (Hornaday, Jr.). We've had Mike Bliss in it the last couple of weeks and he ran really well. For me, I like to see what happens when other people get in the car because it gives you a true reference of where your cars are competition wise on the non-companion weekends when you put somebody else in it and see how the guys work. I like to see how that reaction comes across from a different person's perspective and from the crew's perspective on a different driver. Most all of that stuff is built around what I like and it is fun to see somebody else and see where they think it is at. Ernie (Cope, crew chief for KHI NNS team) will call after every practice and just let me know where everything is at. Most the time you catch up on Monday and see what happened and what we need to do better."
IT IS WINDY HERE AND SUPPOSED TO BE THAT WAY ALL WEEKEND, DOES THAT ADD ANOTHER DIMENSION TO DRIVING THIS TRACK? "You don't really get up enough speed here and there is so much direction change here that I don't think the wind will really affect it here. The cooler temperatures will definitely affect it more than the wind just because you will have more grip. The speed should be up a little bit from where they are when it is usually hot. The cooler weather will be good for everything including us in the car."
WHAT IS YOUR LOVE/HATE WITH THIS TRACK HERE? "I enjoy the road racing. The hardest part about this place is just passing. You have to time your passes right and you only got a couple spots where you can pass. It is a little bit narrow, but you just have to time it right."
IS IT A RESUME BUILDER FOR A NASCAR DRIVER TO WIN ON A ROAD COURSE? IS IT A VOID FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON NOT TO HAVE WON ON ONE? "I know when we won at Watkins Glen it felt like we had completed it. We had now been able to win on short tracks, superspeedways, road courses...so we had won on all the different styles of tracks. Road racing is a challenge. It is not something that we all grew up doing. I raced go karts on road course up until I was 16, but, aside from that, there was not a lot of road racing in NASCAR. There is more today than there was 10 years ago in the West and the East series so you get a little bit more of a feel. I think with everything he has done, if he doesn't win on a road course, I think he'll probably be ok."
HOW DO YOU EXPECT THE POTENTIAL THREE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISHES TO CHANGE END-OF-RACE STRATEGIES HERE? "I think a lot of those questions will be answered in the first half hour of practice. Tires meant more than fuel last year. You could really make up a lot of ground putting new tires on so it is just a matter of what tire they brought and how much it falls off as to where that balancing act is as far as when you pit and when you don't pit, when you stay out toward the end of the race. Double-file restarts kind of clogs everything up on the restarts of the races so it just depends on where you think and how much time you think you can make up on new tires as to whether you try to pull fuel strategy or now. With the green-white-checkered deal, you've got to have some cushion because if you have a caution at the end of the race, you are probably going to go two or three green-white-checkereds just because that is just the nature of what it is and the double-file restarts are tough here. There is a lot of contact so better be ready for multiple."
CAN YOU RACE FASTER THAN 200 MILES AN HOUR AT DAYTONA ON THE NEW ASPHALT DO YOU THINK? "We can race at any speed I think. But, I think it is more about the fans and the cars flying into the fences and the pieces and things like that. When we tested at Talladega, we were 209-210 like it was no big deal. The pace of pulling up is a little bit different, but I don't think that would be anything that everybody wouldn't be able to become accustomed to pretty fast. But I don't see that happening?"
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT FAMILY AND RACING AND PARTICULARLY A FATHER'S ROLE IN INFLUENCING A YOUNG DRIVER? "For me, I grew up around it my whole life. My Dad was into racing. I started racing go karts when I was five. I was fortunate to grow up around that. DeLana (Harvick) has grown up around it. My Dad is still working on cars on the West Series here today. It is something we have done our whole lives and enjoy. I'm glad it all worked out that way."
-source: gm racing