Kevin Harvick clinched the NASCAR Busch Series title at the Sam's Town 200 at North Carolina Speedway with a fifth place finish. With one race to go in the 2001 season, Harvick has scored 5 wins, 20 top-fives, 23 top-tens, and 4 pole positions.
Kevin Harvick clinched the NASCAR Busch Series title at the Sam's Town 200 at North Carolina Speedway with a fifth place finish. With one race to go in the 2001 season, Harvick has scored 5 wins, 20 top-fives, 23 top-tens, and 4 pole positions. With this championship, Richard Childress Racing enters the record books as the first race team in the history of NASCAR to win at least one championship in each of NASCAR's three major series: Winston Cup (7-time champion, Dale Earnhrdt,) Craftsman Truck (Mike Skinner won in 1995) and now the Busch Series.
Kevin Harvick, No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and RCR team owner Richard Childress:
Congratulations, Champion "That sounds pretty good. We've been through our ups and downs this year. We've been through some things we probably shouldn't have done. But this makes it worth it all right here. These guys have worked hard all year long. I don't know what to say. We've run both series. I guess the best thing to do at this point is to dedicate our season to Dale Earnhardt and that's enough that needs to be said."
With all the ups and downs this year, tell us about your most memorable moments "I think the most memorable moments were going back and forth (between races) during the summer months. A lot of people said we couldn't do it. It's been a tough year on everybody, but this makes it worthwhile.
"A lot of people said we were crazy. We thought we were kind of crazy too. We thought if we could make it through July, we could make it through the rest of the year. And we made it through July and won some races. I just can't believe it. Dale Earnhardt is the one that built everything that we've got. We've got a championship team.
"To tell you the truth, I'm just absolutely exhausted. I'm wore out. I don't even really want to be at the racetrack. But you walk into the shop and you see the pictures of these guys and the No. 3 Chevrolet and Dale and Richard and you get your lift back up and just keep racing for that reason. It's been a special year for us. We've tried to do everything we can in memory of him. It's a great way to end it. We can just go to Homestead now and not worry about points anymore."
For Richard Childress Now that you've pulled it off, tell us about those tough decisions "It's tough. Kevin was a champion. He won out west. We knew he could do it. It's just a matter of everybody pulling and working together. I'm so proud of this organization. We've won championships. This one is very special."
Kenny Wallace, No. 48 Goulds Pump Chevrolet Monte Carlo - race winner - On winning today "First of all, I've won eight Busch races and 10 poles. But the last time I ran the full Busch Series was 1994. That was a full effort and we won three races. This was the next time since then and it came awfully late in the year. We had a second place car. The only way I got to him (Jeff Green) was that he and Tony Raines and Greg Biffle got together off turn two and I pulled up on him. But I was just too tight to get to him. My front end was pushing. As far as the win, that was another story."
On the restart following the red-flag "I was totally caught off guard when I didn't see Jeff Green come down. In my mind I was going to dedicate myself to the high-side. I knew when they dropped that green flag that I was not going to the bottom of the track. I positioned myself high, but man - it was all over by the time we got to turn one."
What did you do when you got out of the car at the start/finish line? "I felt like I was going to win this year. I never did agree with all this smoke and spinning the tires. I'm 38 years old, but I never did agree with that. I don't understand why you spin your tires and blow them out when you win a race. Dale Earnhardt gave me my very first Busch ride ever. I could not even go to Daytona unless they'd seen me on some type of racetrack. Dale and Rusty (Wallace) were tight, and Dale gave me the ride. Dale always meant a lot to me. He did not like that burning out thing. He thought when you won, you won the good old way and you went to Victory Lane. I agreed with that. So when I won, I pulled right down there and got out and thanked the fans and that was my way of dedicating my victory to Dale Earnhardt."
What does today's victory give you to build on for tomorrow's Winston Cup race? "They're completely two separate things. Paul did a great job with the car since the bump stops are gone. The first practice session, we really worked the balance out and I feel like we got it. The car is really strong. Tomorrow is a long race. I've got a good guy starting on the outside of me and we'll just drop the green flag and go down there. Today, I started second and dropped back to sixth. I've got a good thing going right now and with the set-up in the Pennzoil car, I think we'll be real competitive tomorrow."
Highlights of the Media Q&A's with Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress:
Kevin Harvick: Did you know when you won or did your crew radio you with the points? "I didn't want to go out there and do a burn-out unless we had won. Richard had me confused. He said we didn't win. I had passed the No. 10 car and I thought we only had to finish one spot behind him (to clinch). But we got it figured out and I'm glad it's over. I'm already twice as relaxed as I've been for the last couple of months. It's been pretty tense. I've been on edge. Everything has been touch and go -- just getting through the last three or four races will be nice. I'm ready for it to be over with.
"Next year, we're not going to do near as much. I don't want to be in this situation like we are in the Winston Cup car and be battling for somewhere between 10th and fifth and just be burned out and not want to go to the racetrack. I want to be as enthusiastic as I was at the beginning of the year. We really need to concentrate on the Winston Cup car next year and not wear out the entire company trying to fly across the country and test here and test there. I haven't been out of the racecar for three weeks straight - except for one or two days. We're not going to do that next year. We're going to relax a lot."
Do you feel like the weight of the world is off your shoulders now? "Yeah, they put it all in this trophy. I tried to lift it and almost threw my back out. It is a huge relief. We went through a month there in September where our 340-point lead was dwindling down in a hurry. To get back to where we needed to be and running good in the top five every week really makes things go a lot smoother and keeps you a lot less stressed-out. I learned a lot racing for this championship. Just the last month or so, I was way too tense away from the racetrack. It may not have showed in the pits or around here, but it was stressing me out at home."
Richard Childress Take us through the process of figuring the points to see if Harvick had clinched the title "I didn't know. About 10 or 15 laps to go, they came over to me and said we needed to finish 8th or better to just take the green flag (in Homestead) to win it. And I thought with no back luck we can be there. But it was really going to be neat to win it here at Rockingham. Like Kevin, I've probably not been on my best behavior with everybody the last few weeks. Today proves what champions are made of. The car was too loose for him. He didn't give up. He got in there and drove with heart and that's what wins championships. That's what champions are made of. He could have taken it easy and gotten lapped and we wouldn't have won here today."
Kevin Harvick: Looks like your car was destroyed during your burn-out. What will become of the car? "Well, Jack Sprague caught his truck on fire at Richmond. Ryan Newman tore up the tires at wherever he won. I had to one-up them. I ripped the crush panels and everything out of mine. It would look good in the museum. We could just roll it right in there and then we don't have to put new fenders on it.
Richard Childress: "Yep, that's our plan. We'll put that car in the museum just like it sits. We'll probably put the flat tires on it too. That would be pretty neat."
Last time you were at Rockingham, you were still grieving Dale Earnhardt's death and you announced Kevin Harvick as the driver. How does all that compare to this weekend? "It's been a real emotionally roller-coaster for the entire RCR team. We were at the lowest point anyone could be at Daytona on February 18th. To come back in Atlanta and to win that race, that was the greatest thing for our whole sport. For Kevin to win that race, that's what the fans needed and that's what the sport needed. We went on a high. We've had our highs and lows the entire year. To win the championship here at Rockingham instead of Homestead makes it special. This is where we won our last championship with Dale Earnhardt. For Kevin to pull that off today was great."
How does it feel to be the first team owner to win in Cup, Busch, and Truck? "I've always looked at the business as a big wheel that has to turn. I'm just one of the spokes in it. We've got some great spokes that make that happen. We've got some great drivers and people over the years that never give up and that's the kind of people I like to associate with.
Kevin Harvick: How tired were you? Did winning races keep you going? "During the summer, I think the Adrenalin was pumping a lot harder because we were winning races at that time. If we would have gone through the summer running 15th or 20th in the Busch car and the Cup car, we probably would have had to do something else. But the world was turning in the right direction and everything was going pretty much flawless at that point and that's what kept us going. We got to a point that all of a sudden it felt like I was hit by a sledge hammer and I didn't want to do anything anymore. I didn't want to leave my house. I didn't want to go test. I didn't want to do anything. When we got the week off because of the Sept. 11th tragedy - obviously we didn't need a week off under those circumstances - that kind of refueled the fire. Everything just came back around. But up until that point, I was just dragging. I never told Richard that."
Richard Childress: "He didn't have to tell me that. I only went on a couple of those deals with him. I did the Pikes Peak and that was probably one of the tougher ones on him. That day, when I walked out on the box, I almost gave out much less run another 500 miles. You've got to be in good shape to do that."
Kevin Harvick: Did you ever feel like this was really crazy? "There were a few times when we were sitting on airplanes - like Colorado to Pocono - and I'd be laying on the plane wondering why in the hell we were doing this? And then I thought I had nobody else to blame this on but myself. It wore on me. I think and I hope that next year, when we're able to concentrate on one thing, that it will really be beneficial. These are obviously different circumstances than were ever expected and they required special actions for the situation. So that's what we did and it's okay to be tired. We're racing for RCR and Dale Earnhardt and we could always fall back on those reasons."
Will Homestead be different now that you've clinched the title? "Well, Richard is going to give me a motor. If I get run down on the apron anymore I can lay the bumper to somebody. I don't have to back-off anymore. That's the biggest thing - we don't have to be defensive. We can race with the things that they've researched and come up with in the last couple of months in the motor. Jeff Green did what he had to do today and he knows I'm going to let off. Anybody in their right mind with a 200-point lead is going to let off. He's a smart racer and understands that. Next week, everybody's mindset at Homestead is back to how it was. They know I'm not going to let off. I don't have to worry about points or anything, so we can just go there to win the race."