KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS met with media and talked about Bristol Motor Speedway, Dale Jarrett, tires issues at Atlanta, having a weekend off, and more. ON DIFFERENCES OF NEW CONFIGURATION OF BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY: "I ...
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS met with media and talked about Bristol Motor Speedway, Dale Jarrett, tires issues at Atlanta, having a weekend off, and more.
ON DIFFERENCES OF NEW CONFIGURATION OF BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY: "I don't think there are as many things to save you if your car is not right. Before you could hook a lip or trail the throttle or something to help your car. You could keep it on the bottom, you could kind of survive. Here, if your car isn't handling good, you are probably going to get passed. You can't just hold the bottom and wait for a caution to adjust it. Just a lot more options.
"For me, even this morning, I was sitting there thinking I really didn't remember what I did last time and what was right and what was wrong. Before when you came here, you knew exactly what you needed to do. I think our cars are better than they were the last time. I would assume the tire is a little bit different than it was last time. There will be a few things that have changed; we just have to adjust through it as it comes to us during the first practice.
"I liked the old style better."
ON WHAT DALE JARRETT HAS MEANT TO THE SPORT: "I think that is one thing we haven't done a very good job of as a sport is to maintaining the guys that helped get us to this point. I think the 50th anniversary of the Daytona 500 should be what it looks like every weekend at a NASCAR. When you go to somebody's hometown, those older guys that are already retired and meant a lot to our sport should be very visible and the general public should know who those people are.
"Obviously, Dale Jarrett has been a huge part of our sport. I think it is going to be kind of strange not having Dale Jarrett in a race. He is going to be great for us and the sport in the TV booth. He has meant a lot to our sport as a competitor. I think it is important that those guys are remembered and don't ever disappear.
"He is one of those guys on the track that just picks and chooses his marks. He is respectful to race with. You race him clean because he races you clean. When it comes time, he will get up on the wheel and make something happen. He is one of those guys that when you get to lap 450, it seems like it is usually his style to kind of wait until that point and all of a sudden he just appears and wins races.
"He is a great person off the race track. He is just laid back, very cordial person. Very good with his sponsors and people, media and things like that. He is one of the good figures of sport that everybody can look up to.
"I told him after the Daytona 500 this year that no matter what happens in my career, I can always say that Dale Jarrett pushed me to 14th place finish in the Daytona 500 (LAUGHS). I told him that after the race this year. That is kind of neat, just being able to race with Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin, a lot of those guys is neat because I like history of the sport. Those guys are a huge part of the history of our sport and deserve all the recognition for helping us get the sport to where it is today. It is important that the fans don't forget that. I don't think you can celebrate enough something like Dale Jarrett's last race for as much as he has meant to this sport."
ON WHAT IS NOW KNOWN ABOUT NEW GENERATION CAR THAT WASN'T KNOWN A YEAR AGO WHEN IT DEBUTED AT BRISTOL: "It is just the characteristics of it. Whether it be a handling characteristic or what. It is obviously a little less throttle time at all the race tracks that we have gone to so far compared to our old car. For the most part, it is very sensitive to the front bump stops and other things up in the front of the car. As we have gone through a year, I think our cars have come along ways from where they were a year ago at this time.
"We have had a very open mind to it. We know that nothing that we have done before will work and everybody been communicating well. It has taken all three teams to help progress things faster than it would by oneself. We have worked hard as an organization and still have a lot of work to do to continue going forward. That is the hard thing about it, you can't stop working because it is going to be a constant progression for a long time."
ON THE GOOD START THE NO. 20 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVY HAS GOTTEN OFF TO SO FAR THIS SEASON: "It feels good. This is the best we have ever started. As we have gone through years, usually we have some hiccups, whether it be Vegas or Atlanta or California. In the past, those always seemed to be hard spots for us to make something happen. This year we have been fortunate to have tests out there, which went really well. All the races went really well. We just have to keep it headed in that direction. As long as we do good on the tracks we normally do good on, we will be ok. The high-banked 1.5-mile stuff in the past has been hard for us, so we feel like we have made that better and have to continue to make it better."
ON STAYING HOME NEXT WEEK AS THE CAR OWNER: "They will keep us informed as to what going on. We will be at home, relaxing and just kind of taking it all in. This year on the Cup side, we have had so much work to do as far as testing and other things, this off week is timed at a really good point for not only myself but the race teams and everybody involved in our sport to really relax and take advantage of the off week. Before, the third week of the season, you weren't really ready for an off week. With all the stuff we have had going on this year, it comes at a perfect time."
ON THE ATMOSPHERE OF RACING AT BRISTOL: "It is definitely a different feel than going to a bigger race track. This place is very unique in the way the racing is and the way that the fans react. Everything is so much closer to you. So you can see, feel and be a part of all reactions that happen in the grandstands. The most unique thing about Bristol is you can't hear anything."
ON THE TIRE TALK FOLLOWING THE ATLANTA RACE: "The tires weren't very good last week. The only good thing that happened with the tires last week is that we didn't have a tire failure. As a competitor, our sport has advanced in numerous ways. I feel like the tires are probably the slowest thing to advance with the rest of our sport."
ON DISCUSSION FOLLOWING DARLINGTON TIRE TEST THIS WEEK OF GOODYEAR REVAMPING THE TIRE AND GOING BACK FOR A SECOND TEST: "We did the first tire test at Atlanta and we didn't have any problems. When we went back to race, probably half the cars had tire problems. For me, it looks like it is time to look at the procedure. I don't know what the right procedure is, what is going on. There has been for years a lot of inconsistency from one set of tires to the other. That is frustrating as a competitor. You work hard to get your travels right so you are within a 1/16th of an inch, and you bolt a set of tires on and the car goes to crap. You don't know why, you put another set on and go from there. It just looks to me, and like I said, I don't have a solution, it might be time to re-evaluate how we approach it."
ON GUYS TRYING TO GET IN THE TOP-35 IN POINTS, IF BRISTOL IS A GOOD TRACK OR BAD TRACK FOR THAT: "I would say this might be a bad track. Most of those guys probably haven't raced a whole lot here, maybe once. That is probably the hardest thing for them coming in to this particular weekend. You have to be able to go fast but you have to be able to survive at the same time. It is probably not the most optimum race to make up points unless they have a 15-car pile up and you aren't in it."
ON IF HE CAN IMAGINE WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE FOR HIM IN A FEW YEARS: "Well, I am never going to say never. I always tell people I do this because I am competitive and like what I do and like to be a part of the sport. Financially we are very fortunate to be at a point in my life where I don't have to do it, but I want to do it. The day that goes away, I will probably just go away by myself."
ON OTHER COMPETITORS CRITICISM OF KYLE BUSCH DRIVING STYLE: "I have seen a lot of things that he does that I probably wouldn't do. But those are just different peoples styles and everybody has their own unique style. Just race as hard as you can."
ON IF HE CIRCLES THIS BRISTOL RACE ON HIS CALENDAR: "I used to. I don't know if it will still be that kind of place for me, it was good for us at the first race last year. As we go forward, it will develop new characteristic of what type of race track it is and what type of place it is for us."
ON WHAT HE MIGHT SAY TO SAM HORNISH OR OTHER DRIVERS WHO ARE SEEING BRISTOL FOR THE FIRST TIME: "Good luck. (LAUGHS) I didn't realize Sam hadn't ever been here. Wow, that would be quite a position to be in, especially with the points position those guys are in. My best advice would be to make laps and try to stay out of the way and just survive because that is biggest part of Bristol is surviving."
ON HIS KEVIN HARVICK, INC. NATIONWIDE PROGRAM: "It has been a lot of hard work. Changing a lot of things over the winter. The biggest thing is I can be in there every day and drive the car weekly and be able to do the testing. In the past, the drivers wouldn't come to the test. Week to week, the drivers would change in the seat and you never got much feed back. Right now it is all about feedback.
"A lot of people forget that we kind of stand alone. I have some things in my mind that I can bring from what I do over here on the Cup side to what I do over there. But in the end, they only thing we buy are the chassis and the engines. The rest of it we do in-house. It has been a lot of work and we still have a long ways to go. We have been consistent so far at the beginning of this year and been in contention to win a couple of races that is all you can ask for. We just pretty much started from scratch this year and kind of went from there.
"I told them that I was a mad last week as I have ever been over losing a race, or finishing 30th or 35th and we finished second. For me it is probably one of the most challenging things I have ever done in my career. It would mean as much to me to take our car to victory lane as anything that I have probably ever done in this sport."
ON IF NASCAR HAS LOST ITS CORE FAN AND WHAT CAN DRIVERS DO TO GET THEM BACK: "I don't think NASCAR has lost its core fan. There are still a lot of people here that have watched these races for a long time. There are a lot of owners here that have watched these races for a long time. Right now, I think everybody is doing a good job. The consistency of the product that we have on the race track and around the garage is pretty stable and I think that is what everybody is looking for."
-credit: gm racing