Bristol Motor Speedway Nextel Wake Up Call with Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo SS Joined by Burney Lamar, No. 77 Dollar General Monte Carlo SS Owned by Kevin and DeLana Harvick Kevin Harvick was the guest of today's NASCAR...
Bristol Motor Speedway
Nextel Wake Up Call with Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo SS
Joined by Burney Lamar, No. 77 Dollar General Monte Carlo SS Owned by Kevin and DeLana Harvick
Kevin Harvick was the guest of today's NASCAR Nextel Cup Wake Up Call. Harvick is the driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet and swept both races here last spring. He's had four wins in the Busch Series.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THIS WEEKEND?
"I think anytime we come here we expect to run well. Obviously things can happen pretty fast here. You can get tore up in a hurry. We've been pretty fortunate to have a lot of success here in both the Busch and Cup car. Last year we were fortunate to win both races and it'd be good to do the same this year."
WHERE WOULD YOU RANK THAT ACCOMPLISHMENT?
"For whatever reasons since I started racing, this is one of the places I wanted to win at. Personally on my list as a driver I think it represents a pretty high accomplishment, probably right towards the top with winning both races."
ARE YOU IMPRESSED WITH WHAT THE NO. 48 TEAM HAS BEEN ABLE TO DO WITHOUT
CHAD KNAUS ESPECIALLY AFTER YOU LOST YOUR CREW CHIEF LAST YEAR FOR FOUR
"I think we had similar success last year, not to the magnitude that they had. I think being without a crew chief there's a lot of questions that you have to answer to the media and it kind of throws the team for a loop. Everyone seemed to step up to the matt when the situation happened to us last year. Obviously they've done the same thing and had a lot success this year. I think they'll be glad to have him back though."
EARLIER THIS SEASON YOU AND RICHARD HAD TALKED ABOUT WORKING OUT YOUR
CONTRACT SITUATION. CAN YOU GIVE US AN UPDATE ON WHERE THAT STANDS?
"There wasn't any date set. The time was a general assumption of April that we'd sit down and talk. There's not a deadline. There's not a specific date. It's more of a when he's home and I'm home we'll sit down and talk about things. There's really not a specific date that we'd actually sit down. We just decided that sometime in April when everything was settled down, we could sit down. He's been gone a lot and I've been gone a lot. We had a couple of minutes to sit down the other day for the first time. So we got those initial conversations underway to see where it goes."
IN LOOKING AT THE CAREER OF DALE EARNHARDT AND SEEING THAT HE ALWAYS
DROVE FOR SOMEONE ELSE BUT HAD HIS OWN ORGANIZATION TOTALLY SEPARATE, DO
YOU SEE THAT AS A GOOD PATTERN AND ONE YOU'D LIKE TO FOLLOW? DO YOU EVER
SEE YOURSELF DRIVING YOUR OWN CUP CAR?
"I'll answer your second question first. I don't ever see myself driving my own Cup car. I think as a driver you need someone to answer to. We can be pretty arrogant and cocky sometimes and have our opinions about things. It's good to have a boss. I wouldn't say never but I don't anticipate having to ever do that. On the Earnhardt model, that's been one of things that's been the hardest for me is to have to live in somebody else's shadow. That's probably one of the things that's hardest for me in this situation. It weighs a lot on my mind because I've always been able to beat my own path. It's hard to answer to those - it's always compared to Dale (Earnhardt) and everything that they've done. Not any disrespect or anything, but it's hard to beat down somebody else's path. We tried to structure everything and do things our own way. I don't know if it's any particular model that we'd actually follow."
TODD BERRIER HAD TROUBLE TWICE WITH NASCAR. DO YOU FEEL AFTER A CREW
CHIEF IS CALLED ONCE, IS HE UNDER INCREASED SCRUTINY THE REST OF THE
YEAR? IS THAT SOMETHING CHAD KNAUS WILL HAVE TO BE CAUTIOUS OF THIS
"They're (NASCAR) obviously trying to make a point to try to teach you what you should and shouldn't do. There's things you can push the envelope on and things that you can't. We definitely had to back off a lot of things last year. They definitely look at things a little bit different until they know that you got the message I think."
ON HIS CRITERIA IN DECIDING WHAT HE WILL DO NEXT YEAR? WHAT ARE YOU
LOOKING TO GAIN AT THIS STAGE IN YOUR CAREER AND REGARDING YOUR CONTRACT?
"It's no different than you. If you had a contract for your job and you had to go out and look at what your actions were, what your new job was going to be or your same job or whatever the situation was going to be, you wouldn't go and want to be miserable. I'm not miserable right now. I shouldn't have said that. Don't turn that into anything it shouldn't be. I'm definitely not miserable. There's probably only two more contracts or maybe three that I'll have in my career. I just don't want to do something that everybody is not happy with or I'm not happy with. I'm just trying to think it through. I understand it raises a lot of questions right now. I'm bothered by all the things that everybody is assuming. Everything is signed and done. I really haven't even sat down and thought about where it's going. I've been really trying to concentrate on what I'm trying to do for the rest of the year. I just want to make the right decision. There's really no criteria. I just want to be happy in my day-to-day life and win races. That's what it all boils down. The fact of the matter is, it's not about money. I read last week that price tags are too high but it's really not about that. I could quit right now and not have to work a day in my life. It's not anything about money, it's about winning races. The paycheck comes along with the driver, it rides right along the driver's coat tails no matter what manufacturer, team owner, whatever it is. It just rides right there with it. The driving decision is the main decision that has to be made. I feel like we're going to make the right decision."
Burney Lamar, No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet
WHAT IS YOUR SEASON LIKE AS TOP ROOKIE? WHAT IS IT LIKE TO HAVE A MENTOR
"The season has been great. We started off good at Daytona finishing second there. When I think about it, we sort of set the bar high. We went to Las Vegas and California and sort of struggled there. But the thing about it is Gene Nead (crew chief) and the guys, they did a great job on figuring out what we needed. I think that it shows that at Atlanta, we sort of found out what we're looking for. I get more and more comfortable in the car. Kevin (Harvick) has been helping me out a lot. Before we went to Atlanta, we sat down with him (Kevin) and Rick Carelli (team manager, KHI). We sat down and had about an hour meeting. We talked about some stuff that really helped me. I think that always helped sort of pick up the pace at Atlanta too. It's been a great year. Kevin has been a huge help, at Daytona especially. It was sort of fish out of the water there. With his help and the great team that we have, it's going good."
ON THEIR SUCCESS WITH THE NO. 33 AND NO. 77 CAR:
"If he thought he was a fish out of water in Daytona, wait until you start to race with no practice here. You ever watch one of those pinball machines? You'll be the ball (laughs). It's been fun. It brings back a lot of memories of when I first started in the Busch car and having people around to ask questions and not knowing where anything is or where you're going or what you're doing and just going out doing what you love to do. It's been fun to see the success of the teams. Both teams have done well this year. It's what we put them together for - to succeed. There's no better feeling than to succeed as an owner or a driver or whatever it is. Anytime you succeed is good. I think the most gratifying thing is plucking him out of the West Coast/Southwest Tour Series and bringing him up. Now everybody is like 'who is this guy?' That's a pretty satisfying feeling to know that you made some right decisions. We'll probably make some wrong decisions along the way but everything is going good so far."
DOES YOUR SUCCESS IN THE BUSCH SERIES MAGNIFY YOUR FRUSTRATIONS IN THE
CUP SERIES? OR DOES IT RE-AFFIRM YOUR CONFIDENCE THAT YOU CAN DRIVE THESE
"There's never been a confidence factor. I feel like I can drive just as good as anybody in the series. Our cars have run well this year. We're just in a slump. We haven't had anything go right. We had a great car at Daytona. We had to change a carburetor in the middle of the race in California and it was probably the only bad decision we've made. Other than that, we've run good and that's all you can ask for. I don't feel like there's anybody that sits in the car that's any better than I am."
ON THE PRESSURE OF DRIVING THE GM GOODWRENCH CAR AND THE RESPONSIBILITY
HE HAS IN DRIVING THAT CAR:
"I think that's the part I kind of touched on earlier. I don't really like that responsibility. It's hard to have to live up to everything that's expected. It's just a lot of things, a lot speculation that people put on you that you wouldn't have if I wasn't driving that car. It is what it is. You just have to learn with it as best as possible. I've always beat my own path. That's one of the hardest parts for me to deal with."
YOU PREVIOUSLY SAID YOU WANTED TO SEE RCR AND YOUR TEAM HEAD IN THE RIGHT
DIRECTION. WE'VE SEEN SOME IMPROVEMENT WITH THE NO. 31. DO YOU FEEL LIKE
YOU'RE SEEING THAT IMPROVEMENT COMPANY WIDE?
"I think we're all better. We all run good week in and week out. That's been one of the best things is to have three teams that are running good. It's like last week at Atlanta, we were off on a different path and went over to the 31 and the 07 and basically put there set-ups in our car for qualifying and picked up almost a second from practice to qualifying. It's good to have that. In order to make those two teams better, it made our team weaker. Scott Miller leaving our team definitely made our team weaker. Losing our engineer and leaving Todd (Berrier) something to balance stuff off of, we're still looking for that right person. We've got a great race team. All three teams are running good. We just need a little bit of luck to go along with our fast cars. I'm happy with the performance of everything we've done so far."
WAS THAT A CONSCIOUS DECISION ON YOUR PART TO SURROUND BURNEY LAMAR WITH
VETERAN DRIVERS - RON FELLOWS, RON HORNADAY, TONY STEWART?
"I think the Ron Fellows part, that definitely weighed into some of the decision of having him drive the other car, other than that he's one of the best road racers in the world. It also helped myself, Burney, everybody. That's kind of the strategy that we took building the truck team. I drove the truck until it was established in the points. Then we put somebody else in. Tony (Stewart) drove the Busch car and established the points. Then we put somebody else in it. We took those points on his car and did the same thing this year with myself and Tony establishing the points and now everything is good through the first five. I know Ron thinks the world of Burney and has been with him through all the tests over the winter. If you're surrounded by good people, you're going to be better. This thing is all about people. Someone in Burney's shoes, he can ask any of us questions at any time and probably get a pretty good answer from any of us. Experience helps."
ON THE IMPACT OF KEVIN HARVICK SURROUNDING YOU VETERAN DRIVERS?
"That's just it. You go to a lot of these places for the first time. You're racing against some of the best drivers in the whole country. So when you get people like Kevin (Harvick), Tony Stewart, Ron Hornaday, Ron Fellows - when can bounce ideas off of people like that, you know you're going to get the right answer. I've done it all year and it's helped me out a lot. I'm thankful that Kevin's set up the team that he has. It's helped me out tremendously."
ON THE BUSCH TEST NEXT WEEK. WITH THE LIMITED TEST DAYS, HOW IMPORTANT IS
THAT TO YOUR TEAM? WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO GET OUT OF IT?
"The first day we'll be doing the tire test in Charlotte with the Cup car. Then we'll come one night next week and drive that evening and the next day in the Busch car. I think for myself we've established a pretty good package. Once we get past Texas and I can be in the 21 car week in and week out, we should be able to get in a pretty good rhythm. It's not the most important thing in the world for me. I think for Burney it's probably more important to be at Richmond and be at track that he hasn't been to and try a lot of things he probably wants to try at this point. It's probably more important for him, I don't look at it for us as a huge importance factor.
"I've never even seen the track at Richmond. I raced Atlanta last year in the truck. I think that led to our decent finish in Atlanta last weekend. When we go to Richmond hopefully we can do the same thing instead of learning the track, handling the car for the first whole practice, I can go out on the track and practice for the race and get the car good. That's what helps me out a lot, just learning the track."
IS YOUR DECISION SO IMPORTANT BECAUSE YOU REALLY DIDN'T GET TO
ORCHESTRATE YOUR FIRST ARRIVAL INTO CUP SINCE YOU HAD THAT THRUST UPON
YOU? IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU NOW TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS THE WAY YOU
MIGHT HAVE DONE IT THE FIRST TIME AROUND?
"I don't know that I'll ever be able to get back to that point. It's important to make the right decisions going forward and to do the things that make you happy. You want to be happy when you're at home, when you're at the race track, when you're anywhere really. I just want to make sure that all the I's are dotted and all the t's are crossed and everything is done how everybody wants it to be done and there's a structure to how everything works. If everything turned upside down right now, Richard (Childress) and I would still be good friends and still do things the way we always have. There's nothing more that I would want at this point. That's what we're trying to do is to making everything right for everybody and keep everything going in the right direction and work it out. It just really all comes down to time right now. We just really haven't had time to do things and sit down and talk about everything that we need to talk about. It's an important decision but right now the main focus is driving the car. We just haven't had a lot of time to work things out."
ON NEVER DRIVING HIS OWN CUP CAR. HAVE YOU ALWAYS FELT THAT WAY? DOES
THAT MEAN YOU'RE NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO HAVING A CUP TEAM?
"If I had to decide today, we wouldn't have a Cup team at KHI. It's just not in the picture today. Maybe it is tomorrow, I don't know. Everything we've done has kind of been fly by the seat of your pants and make a decision as it comes. We wouldn't be at this point if it wasn't for (Tony) Stewart and just wanting to run one race. It kind of evolved into what it is today. If you look at the history and look back at things, it just doesn't work when you drive for yourself. To me it seems like you can find an excuse to why you shouldn't do something or why shouldn't buy something or why you shouldn't do this or that. I think to be competitive you have to have somebody pushing you. You have to have somebody wanting to make you better and wanting you to do the right things. I think you need to have a boss. I think you could probably get away with it in the Busch Series. I just don't think you could compete competitively where you need to be in the Cup Series being your own boss."
ON HAVING JEFF BURTON AS A TEAMMATE AND HIS INFLUENCE AND THEIR
RELATIONSHIP. HAS HE RELIEVED SOME OF THE SPOKESMAN BURDENS ON YOU?
"I think the biggest thing Jeff did was when he came in, he backed up everything we'd been griping about for three years. I think that's probably the biggest thing that he brought was the communication factor. He knew how to communicate with Richard and get it across in a way that everybody listened. It took time to make all the stuff that we'd been talking about happen. I think he's great with the people. He's great at communicating things. He can make everybody understand something in a very diplomatic way. I'm a little brash sometimes, a little bit rough around the edges when it comes to the communication part. I just say what I think and whether it's right or wrong, I don't know. Jeff is very good at putting it to the people how it could be better and how it could benefit everybody and do it politically correct."
DID IT HELP TO HAVE SOMEONE LIKE JEFF BURTON SPEAK UP?
"We've raced four weeks but we have to make it through 36 (races). That's when we can evaluate everything. Right now all of our stuff is running really good. That's good. We just have to keep making it better. We can't just stop right now and say 'we're pretty good, let's just roll through the rest of year.' We have to keep getting better. We're not the best team out here yet and I think that's everybody wants to be."
ON ADVICE THAT HAS BEEN HELPFUL:
"The biggest thing is the characteristics of each race track. Mainly the cars that I've race before, you get in the corner and you're completely off the gas and you don't use brakes. Some places like that, it's nothing close to that. In Atlanta at qualifying I almost didn't lift at all. I talked to Kevin and I could spend all practice learning where I should lift at, if I should use a brake, if so how much. Just talking to him, right off the bat we want to go out and I've listened to what he has to say and we're pretty good right off the truck. That's the biggest thing is figuring out the line and how to work the pedals the first practice. Listening to Kevin is easy. It's something I don't have to do. That's probably the biggest thing."
HAS TOYOTA BEEN COURTING YOU?
"Obviously with Toyota coming in, there's a lot of speculation of what's going on. It makes you feel good that everybody is talking about what you want to do or what you should do. I'm being dead honest here, I've stayed as much out of all this stuff as I could and left it up to everybody else outside of it. Obviously they're (Toyota) going to bring a new perspective to the sport with their brand and their competitive nature. It's something everybody is talking about. As far as courting me, I don't what would fall into that category. Everything up to this point is speculation of what's happening. Right now there's nothing done or nothing happening anywhere from any manufacturer or anything."
WHAT WAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH DALE EARNHARD WHEN YOU WERE ORIGINALLY
SCHEDULED TO DRIVE A THIRD CAR? IF DALE EARNHARD WERE STILL AROUND, HOW
MUCH EASIER WOULD THAT HAVE MADE THINGS FOR YOU?
"It would have made things a lot easier. Daytona of 2001 we announced we were going to run seven races that year with AOL and expand full time after that in 2002. I think it would have made things a lot easier. Obviously you wouldn't have been the focal point from day one and the microscope would have been a little less magnified than it was from the beginning. I think it also forced me to realize a lot of things a lot faster than I would have. In some instances it helped me grow up a lot faster than I probably would have it I had done it on my own. There's a lot of good things that came out of it. It would have been a lot better if it would have stayed the way it was supposed to be. I think for the most part it made me do things a little different with the circumstances the way they were."
IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO CORRECT ONE MISCONCEPTION THAT EXISTS ABOUT YOU,
WHAT WOULD IT BE?
"I think I'd have probably whooped Kurt Busch before now. Obviously you forgot about getting punched in the nose last time from Jimmy Spencer. I probably shouldn't have said that. I'll still tell ya what I think. I'd still like to whip his ass. Before the year is over, he'll make a fool out of Roger Penske. We'll just have to wait and see. But anyway. I shouldn't have said that either. It's hard not to pick on a guy when his ears are pinned back. I should stop. My wife is looking at me like 'you should really stop.' Nobody knew we were going to have a comedy show today. The biggest thing I would change is the general perception of who I am. You get this stereotype of a person of who you are and being, I don't know what word you want me to say, but just being a jerk. Really I'm pretty laid back. I'm pretty easy going away from the race track. I take what I do at the race track serious. This is my job. I get paid to go out and do my job the best I can. When it doesn't go right, it's something that I take to the heart. It's just that perception of competitive versus personal."