TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY MAY 22, 2010 An interview with: Richard Childress Kevin Harvick RICHARD CHILDRESS, OWNER OF RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (RCR), AND KEVIN HARVICK, DRIVER OF THE NO. 29 ...
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
MAY 22, 2010
An interview with:
RICHARD CHILDRESS, OWNER OF RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (RCR), AND KEVIN HARVICK, DRIVER OF THE NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, held a press conference to announce a multi-year contract extension between RCR and Harvick, and discussed various elements of their agreement.
MODERATOR: "Thank you all for coming today, I am the Director of Communications for Richard Childress Racing and we have a very important announcement for the present and future of RCR. As some of you may have seen on a Twitter post or somewhere else, RCR and Kevin Harvick have agreed to a multi-year contract extension for Kevin to continue in the RCR No. 29 Chevrolet Sprint Cup Series car. As I said, multi-year agreement, no we aren't going to tell you the exact years and all of that good stuff. At this time I would like to turn it over to Richard Childress. Richard, if you would, tell the folks where things stand right now and your thoughts on Kevin continuing on now well past a decade at RCR."
CHILDRESS: "We're very excited to have Kevin back. He has written a lot of history for RCR. He stepped in the car when we lost Dale in 2001 and I don't know of any driver that could have stepped in there under the pressure and handled it the way he did. We'll always be grateful. To have him come back and re-sign again, we're excited about it. I know there will be questions about sponsors. We have three or four companies that we are dealing with right now and hopefully in the very near future, we'll have something to announce there. But the key thing is to have Kevin back. He is a top driver in this Series and to have him in our group of drivers is just unbelievable and we are glad to have him back."
MODERATOR: "Kevin, as I mentioned, it is hard to believe that your first race started at RCR at 1999, well into your second decade now. Leading in points. Obviously run very well here. Talk about what it means for you to make this announcement now moving forward looking at the championship for this year."
HARVICK: "I think for us it is great to put everything, all the questions to bed. I know I have been pretty quiet about the way we have gone about everything. I felt pretty good about the way everything has gone between Richard and myself and all the internal things that have been going on. I know it is not the way you guys would like it but the last time I didn't do things very well. I feel like we did things the right way. We've been through a lot of ups and downs and I feel like as an organization and a team. We're positioned as well as we have ever been to race for a championship this year with Scott Miller taking over the competition role. Kent Day, ECR Engines and the chassis shop and everybody that is a part of everything that really has had a tremendous amount of restructuring since probably late summer of last year.
"It has been an incredible turn around. The attitude and the morale and the people that I have been around for a long time, those are the things that you want to work out when you have so much time and effort invested in for years and years and years. To be able to race for a championship this year was our goal and we have been able to accomplish that so far. Our goal is to race for championships every year and obviously last year we didn't do that. We felt like we've made all the right changes and hopefully we can continue going forward with the performance and things that we've done and feel really comfortable with all of that."
MODERATOR: "We will now open it up for questions."
ARE YOU AT THE POINT NOW YOU ANTICIPATE FINISHING YOUR DRIVING CAREER WITH RCR?
HARVICK: "Well, you never know how things are going to shake out but obviously I don't think the sport has created, with the time and commitment and things that it takes to be competitive, I don't see myself racing until I am 50 years old. Whether it is one more contract or two more contracts, nobody knows. But right now there are a lot of years in front of us with this one. The way that we started and hopefully we can end that way and continue that going forward."
CAN YOU JUST TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU HAVE GROWN AND HOW MUCH YOU HAVE CHANGED AND RCR HAS CHANGED IN THE LAST DECADE?
HARVICK: "It has been a lot of life experiences I guess you could say. I think when I came in I was what, 23-years old. Came in not a worry in the world. We raced a couple of ARCA races and went into the Nationwide Series and really just trying to learn what the sport was all about and got our feet on the ground the first year. Then everything happened and that was obviously something you really can't plan for. We went in and did well. Then the second year reality hit so we had to go through some changes there and really figure out what the sport was all about in 2002.
"There have been a lot of good times. We've won the Daytona 500. We've won the Brickyard. We've won the All Star Race, the Shootouts and we've won a couple of championships on the Nationwide side together. It has been a lot of things that have been great moments in my life. Unfortunately, the ones that get the most publicity are the ones that aren't so great but when you go back and you really start putting it all on paper and you really start thinking about everything that has happened and the accomplishments we've been able to achieve together, it wouldn't have been probably the way it needed to end based on everything we have been able to accomplish."
WAS THERE A SPECIFIC TIME OR EVENT THAT LED YOU AFTER A TOUGH YEAR LAST YEAR THAT LED YOU TO SAY HEY, WE PROBABLY SHOULD STAY TOGETHER?
CHILDRESS: "We've been talking for quite awhile and just putting a lot of details together. We both knew what we wanted to do. It was a matter of just finalizing a few details. Like I say, having Kevin back in the car, we want to contend for a championship. You don't put a team together and contend for a championship overnight. It takes some time to build and build your people and personalities together and that is what Kevin is doing with his race team right now."
HARVICK: "I think for me there are a lot of things that went in to it. As we went through time, everybody knows we struggled through the middle of last year. But as we got to the end of the year last year, things had turned around. You have the whole winter to think about things to. As we went into the year, everybody came in with a great attitude, and I hope, including myself. We had talked about a lot of things that we wanted to do and the pieces started to fall into place before we even got started in Daytona. Just a lot of those moments made us strong through the winter too."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT THE DAY HAS COME THAT YOU HAVE RESIGNED WITH RCR? WAS THERE EVER A TIME WHERE YOU DIDN'T THINK THAT ALL THE PIECES WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO FALL IN TO PLACE?
HARVICK: "I think as you look through the middle of that (last) year, obviously, we were both frustrated. We both want the same things and sometimes we just butt heads a little bit. We talked through those situations and both realized we want to race for championships and want to win races and be competitive. That is really what it is all about is being competitive week in and week out. Sometimes similar people get frustrated and Richard and I are the same type of people. We get frustrated and want to do things the right way and I think as we went through those moments as I said a second ago, it made us stronger as we went forward and realized we both want to achieve the same goals."
WERE THERE ANY TOUGH NEGOTIATIONS OR HARD PITCHES EITHER OF YOU HAD TO MAKE TO THE OTHER OR WAS IT MUTUALLY AGREEABLE THROUGHOUT?
HARVICK: "I didn't think it was that hard. We've been through this so many times with Fred and Richard and I really got to concentrate on what I had to do on the race track. Maybe it was. Maybe those guys just did a good job of keeping me shielded from it.
CHILDRESS: "It wasn't. Once we both knew this is this the direction we're going, it just took a little time. Attorneys have to earn their money so they may change and 'I' to an 'A' or whatever they do. But that was the biggest holdup. Kevin said it the best a while ago. Both of us want the same thing. And I think with the way we're structured now, we've got a lot of good things coming the rest of the year and hopefully we'll just get better as the year goes and we want to run for that championship. I want to walk on the stage in Vegas."
YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU HANDLED IT DIFFERENTLY THIS TIME THAN THE LAST. DOES THAT MEAN TALKING LESS ABOUT IT PUBLICLY?
HARVICK: "Well, yeah. I think 2003 was a mess. I kind of let myself get caught up in the middle of this world and the media and it's best to handle your family matters within your family and not let the outside world dictate what you want to do. It felt like it went very well as we went through it this time, and felt like we handled it professionally and how it should have been done last time."
ON THE SPONSORSHIP, THE ECONOMY LOOKS LIKE IT'S TRYING TO TURN AROUND SOME. HAVE YOU NOTICED MORE COMPANIES WILLING TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT MAJOR SPONSORSHIP DEALS? IS IT A LITTLE BIT BRIGHTER NOW?
CHILDRESS: "Yes, for sure. Our marketing department has been talking to some new companies that's not in the sport right now that have a lot of interest. Our sport, with the Hall of Fame opening, a lot of things with racing has been really great this year and the country is still in an economy downturn a little bit, but it looks like its leveling and moving in the right direction. And I think our sport is strong enough with all the people and the companies we have in it. And the companies that are looking to get into the sport today gives us bright hope."
HARVICK: "I don't think either of us would have been as willing to do everything that we're doing today without having the confidence in that side of it. I think we both feel like that there are things will move along pretty fast on that side of it."
YOU MENTIONED THAT THE PIECES SORT OF FELL INTO PLACE EVEN BEFORE YOU GOT TO DAYTONA. WITH SHELL LEAVING, DID THAT HAPPEN SO LATE IN THE GAME THAT IT WASN'T A FACTOR IN RE-SIGNING OR WERE THERE SOME HESITATIONS?
HARVICK: "To be quite honest with you, they were kind of the ones that got the whole ball rolling. So, that was just kind of the ones to really help get the ball rolling in the right direction. I don't really know what else to say past that."
CHILDRESS: "You said it. We were talking and here we are today, signing."
WHAT IMPACT, IF ANY, DOES THIS HAVE ON YOUR NATIONWIDE PROGRAM AT KHI?
HARVICK: "Well, I think that's one of the great pieces of the whole thing. I think as we go forward, my Nationwide car will have all of the ECR engines in it as it has this year. Our trucks have ECR engines in them. We'll continue forward with RCR chassis under our Nationwide car to make sure that as we move forward with the new car on the Nationwide side, it will be tremendously closer to what we currently race on Sunday. So we've made a huge effort between the two companies to make sure that those cars are prepared similarly to my Cup car to make sure that as much transfers from Saturday to Sunday. Chassis, engines, communication from the technical standpoint will be a huge piece of this; and really, as two companies working together hand-in-hand like we will going forward, makes us a lot stronger as one than it does as two separate companies."
CHILDRESS: "Yeah, and hopefully we can pretty much in the near future we've got some plans that Kevin and I are working on with both the companies and hopefully we'll be able to announce that pretty soon in the near future."
YOU'VE BEEN A STRONG TEAM OWNER YOURSELF. ARE THERE THINGS YOU LEARNED THAT WERE MISSING OVER AT RCR? DID YOU PLAY A ROLE IN HELPING THROUGH THE RESTRUCTURING?
HARVICK: "Well, I think Richard played the biggest role. Just knowing what he wanted to do with the company and what he envisioned the company to look like going forward; I would say Scott (Miller) is probably the biggest role that's going to help not only bridge that gap between myself and the crew chiefs and Richard, but Richard and the crew chiefs from a competition standpoint to a spending standpoint. There's a line that you have to draw and it's just a matter of where that line is and how you achieve that. And when you can't get to those points from a financial standpoint, where you want to achieve on the competition side, where you go get it from within your company, and what will least affect the company. Those are things that Scott is going to help the most with in knowing what we need and when we need it and kind of deciphering through each crew chief and as a team owner you know that the crew chiefs and the drivers always want what's best for them. So, in the end it's got to be what's best for the company and what makes the cars go the fastest as a whole."
HOW CRITICAL IS IT TO GO TO A SPONSOR AND BE ABLE TO SAY YOU HAVE KEVIN HARVICK SIGNED TO A MULTI-YEAR DEAL VERSUS BEING IN THE NEGOTIATION PROCESS?
CHILDRESS: "It's always kind of like the chicken and the egg or however that goes. I think that Kevin and I both have enough confidence in each other that we know that we can go out and we're going to put a really good package together and we've put really good packages together for companies in the past and we're going to put a great package moving forward. It's a huge plus when you can go to a company and say we have the driver, the driver has us, and we're ready to go. We're going to give you a package that will get more than your monies worth."
IN YOUR DECISION-MAKING, DID YOU EVER CONTEMPLATE BEING A DRIVER/OWNER FOR KHI?
HARVICK: "No. We've talked about this a lot before. It's not something that I have the desire to sit and make those decisions over $15 or $20 million or whatever decisions are; you've got to have too much money in this day and age to start a company. The RCR's of the world have that backbone and have already made those investments on the parts and pieces and the tools necessary to be competitive in the sport. It's not something I was really looking for as a challenge."
WHAT WAS IT YOU SAW IN KEVIN HARVICK WHEN YOU HIRED HIM ALL THOSE YEARS AGO THAT MADE YOU THINK HE WAS GOING TO BE PRETTY SPECIAL?
CHILDRESS: "I remember watching him race at IRP in that No. 75 truck. I watched him race (Ron) Hornaday at Bakersfield or wherever we were at and he was beating on him. Back then he was a young man I guess you'd say; he still is, but he was beating on one of his friends to win the race and I said yeah, I kind of like that. He's the kind of driver I like. So, I watched him a couple of more races and we went after him and once we got him, I knew he was the real deal. At Daytona we knew it when we rolled out."
-source: gm racing