Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress press conference Bristol Motor Speedway Kevin Harvick ...
Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress press conference
Bristol Motor Speedway
#29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
(First win at Bristol, first win since 2003 Brickyard 400)
Richard Childress RCR Team Owner
Yeah, we had a great car all day. Richard was on me to keep the rear tires on the car. We didn't make any huge adjustments today. We were pretty good from the start, we were a little bit tight but all in all, starting from the back and everything that's happened-it's been a sweet, sweet day. In hindsight with everything that's gone on and Todd being at home and coming to Bristol where we've always run good makes it fun. You don't have to say a whole lot because the performance we had today speaks for itself.
RICHARD, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK IN VICTORY LANE AT BRISTOL?
Well, it feels great to be back in victory lane anywhere, but Bristol is always a lot of fun because of the excitement on the race track. I think if you watch Kevin's performance today, he gets the credit for this. We had a good car, but at the end of the day, the driver has to know when to go, when not to and how to get through traffic. He did a great job.
IS BIFFLE A SITTING DUCK ON HIS TIRE DECISION? WERE YOU GOING TO GET TIRES REGARDLESS OF HIS DECISION?
We were coming to get tires regardless. I know that from the driver's seat and I know Richard wants four tires whenever we're in that situation. There's a lot of races that have been won here in the past and people have had good finishes. But after you get 40-50 laps into the run, they fall off and you had about 15-20 laps to take advantage of the new tires. It was no question in our mind whether we were going to pit or not, it was just a matter of who else pitted with us.
WAS TODAY TYPICAL BRISTOL OR SOMETHING EXTRA?
Well, you never know what you're going to get at Bristol. Some days.you know we had a 100 lap run today, we had a wreck right off the bat. It was kind of a day of mixed emotions, I guess, you could say as far as the race went. It started off pretty rough there right off the bat there with Leffler and three or four guys wrecked. We had the big pileup down here. We were fortunate enough earlier to have a good enough car where we stayed out on one stop with 16, 17 laps on our tires. I tried to hold my own and get on the same cycle. So, it worked itself out well. We kind of had both today. It was rough and it also had its long run too. I've been here before and not run more than 50 laps at a time. I think we had a 100 lap run and a 77 lap run.
YOU HAD A CONTROVERSIAL PENALTY THEN YOU HAD TO START AT THE BACK. IS THIS WIN SORT OF YOUR KIND OF WIN?
I think both of us have been beat down pretty far in our racing careers. You know, you have to learn how to get out of a hole. I think that's one thing that RCR has always been really good at, is recovering from being down. And they always come back stronger than what they were before. So, like I said earlier, it's a huge statement made by our race team today and you don't really have to say anything else. Our cars ran well this weekend and they've run well pretty much every week except Atlanta and you've got to give a big hand to our teammates Jeff Burton and Dave Blaney and all the crew chiefs. It's a whole different atmosphere since when I've been there. Everybody is on the same page. Everybody is working towards a common goal and I think that's what Richard was looking for when he put people together. During that red flag, Jeff and I were on the radio together talking amongst each other, talking about what we're going to do to get our laps back. It's a big statement and a big relief I think for all of us to know all the hard work that's gone into everything that we've done this year. We don't have one old race car. Every race car on this team is new from the ground up. I wish Todd could have been here today with all the hard work and effort he did. But to have Richard on the box and Scott with all the hard work he did, was pretty cool.
Like Kevin said, we just kind of let his actions today do the speaking. I told the guys-we had a meeting-and I told the guys that it's kind of a negative we have to start in the rear on top of everything else, we don't have our crew chief here and we've just got to turn it into a positive. And that's what Kevin did. He turned it into a positive and won the race. But I've got to echo what Kevin says about Todd Berrier. He worked his butt off this winter. Like when we stayed back from Daytona and the other guys were down there doing that test and Todd was back doing a lot of testing.I think a lot of credit goes to Todd. And Scott Miller, you can't leave him out. He was the crew chief today. He gets all the credit that went on for everything in the pit box. These guys worked hard this winter and put together a good program and we're utilizing some of the tools we have now.
WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES A GOOD DRIVER AT THIS TRACK?
I think it's just having a knack for these types of places. I grew up on half mile, semi-high banked race tracks. It was nothing like this, but it's just a knack of something that fits your driving style. If you look back I think RCR has always had strong race cars here at Bristol and that helps a lot. It's something that since the first day we've came here, we've been competitive and racing for wins here and in the Busch Series. I think we've only finished outside of the top 10 twice.or once or twice in the Cup race. It's been a very good track for us.
WHERE WOULD YOU PUT THIS WIN IN THE TOTAL WINS YOU'VE HAD IN YOUR CAREER?
I think at this point in my career and with everything that's gone on, it's good for a different reason. The brickyard was really big, but winning at Bristol.it's a short track. You have to have good race cars, dodge all the wrecks and do everything right for the whole day and keep everything together. There's a lot that goes into winning here. There's a lot that goes into winning everywhere but there's just something that I've always enjoyed about Bristol that fits my style and so it's really pretty cool to win here.
ANY CLOSE CALLS TODAY?
Right off the bat, that wreck, that was pretty close. Leffler came down on the track. But other than that, we had pretty good track position. The #48 and #15 wreck there, coming off of 2 and that was right in front of us. So, a couple of close calls, but that's probably the best our car has ever looked. It had one little dent in the left side and that was it. But it was a pretty good day for our car.
RICHARD, IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE YOUR TEAM HAS WON. WE'VE BEEN ON YOU PRETTY HARD. IS THIS THE START OF SOMETHING BIG?
I do appreciate you all being on our back because that gives us drive to go and that's your job when you have to do that. We've got so many good people that had to go back and regroup this winter and do a lot of things and had to redo our cars, our aero program, our engines. We aren't where we want to be yet, but this is a sign of accomplishment that we're on the way to being where we want to be. We're not there but we know we've got a lot of work to do yet.
RICHARD, DOES THIS GIVE YOU A PERMANENT SPOT ON THE PIT BOX?
Probably wouldn't. I would be there if I thought we would win every week, but I'm going to be there the next two weeks.
You can't come down until we lose.
I know. I'm going to be there for the next two weeks for sure, and then Todd will be back.
WHAT ARE YOUR CHANCES FOR WINNING THE BUSCH RACE HERE TOMORROW?
Well, our car is really good tomorrow. You know, we have to start in the back tomorrow too. It worked out pretty good today and hopefully it works out the same tomorrow. It was good in practice and I think all three of our cars are pretty good tomorrow. We want to win, but even if we don't, this takes the icing on the cake here whether we win tomorrow or not. Our whole world goes around our Sundays and the #29 is what makes my world go around and a lot of peoples' world go around. We want to win tomorrow, but this is what we're all after.
WHO FOUND THE PUDDLE THIS MORNING AND WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION?
Well, Danny Lawrence came and got me and he said, come over here and help us make a decision as to what to do here. He said, when it runs, it doesn't leak, but we think what it was that being really cold, the material changed and we just, as a team, made a decision to go ahead and change it. I said that somebody needs to tell Kevin. I think they told you at the drivers' meeting? We made that decision because we knew we had a really good car. The way that car was coming off the corner in practice and to hear Kevin's voice, we knew we had a good car. Just like on one of the pit stops, we had three lugs tight and the other two were on there, but they weren't on tight. But he came to me and said, I only got three of them. He came to me and said, I gave him three of them tight. I told Scott, we've got to bring him in. I hated to, but it was too good a car not to and Kevin took it right back to the front.
Yeah, I found out. Scott told me in the drivers' meeting.
YOU'VE THANKED BURTON AND BLANEY. HOW MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE HAVING THEM? THEY ARE LESS VOLATILE TEAMMATES-WHAT DOES THAT DO FOR YOU
Well, the first thing I want to do is kind of set the record straight on Robby (Gordon). Robby and I, we got along great the last year and a half. I know a lot has been made out of that and we did everything we could to help each other there at the end. But, it's different. It's such a different atmosphere having guys that.especially with Jeff, he's won races, he's done pretty much everything you can do in the sport. He brings a different attitude. He approaches it differently. And that's really made me a lot calmer and lot more relaxed. It's not like, what do you think we should do and everyone comes to the #29 and everything is riding on the #29's back. Now it's the #29, 31 and 07. They all run good. If there's a week where one of them doesn't run good, you can go to the other two cars because one of them has probably run good. It's a totally different atmosphere. Everybody's got the same goal. I saw Dave after the race and he was pumping his fist as hard as I was pumping my first, so I think that's pretty cool. And I know Jeff is right there with us. It's really cool to have guys like that where there's not really huge egos. The first thing I do is step down and let your guard down. You don't have those guys out there running to prove they can outrun you. Everybody is there to try to win races. When one car win, it's win for everybody. So, that makes life a lot easier.
RICHARD, WHAT WERE YOUR DUTIES ON THE PIT BOX WHEN YOU WERE SITTING UP THERE?
I really don't know! I really just wanted to show the whole team-Kevin and everybody-not just the #29 but the whole organization that I supported the whole organization. I wanted to be up there. I just talked to Scott some and I wanted to be there. This place-everything happens so fast and not having Todd, I said, if I could just make one statement I wanted to do that. We talked back and forth and you know, it felt good. I told Kevin, you're three seconds ahead, you're two seconds ahead. It just felt good to talk to him and sit on the box like that. It brought back a lot of old memories there.
DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE CAUGHT GREG BIFFLE EVEN IF HE HAD FRESH TIRES, AS GOOD AS YOUR CAR WAS?
He had a really good car, but I think we passed him once earlier in the day if I remember correctly. Richard was on me pretty hard to save the rear tires and I knew we needed to save the brakes. I just tried to find myself a hole and I could keep there and coming into the brake ducts and I could just try to save the tires. Because after 40-50 laps, the front tires would go and if you could get up off the corners, you could reel them right back in. I've been there a lot of times and wore my car slide out with 250 laps into the race and then you get to the end of the race and don't have anything for the end of the race. You have to take care of yourself and pick and chose when you want to go and I knew we needed to lead some laps. Rusty had a good car and I wasn't going to get in the middle of a battle there in the middle of the race. It was all about the end and we were in a right spot.
HOW IS TODD DOING?
I don't think you can really make Todd upset. Todd and I have been together since 1999. We are more like brothers than we are like work acquaintances or work partners. He knows what I'm going to do before I even do it. I don't have to be a part of a lot of things that he does because he knows what I like and when Richard decided to do that a couple of years ago, it was probably the best thing that's happened in Cup racing for me. So, I haven't talked to Todd. I don't know if Richard has yet. I wish he could have been here because he's the main reason this stuff happens and the main reason the #29 goes around in circles. It's really neat and that's the last thing he told me before I left, he said: Now look, the only thing we need to do is win the race and that's all that needs to be said. So, that's what we did.
DO YOU GET SICK OF NOT WINNING, DOES IT DRIVE YOU NUTS?
I think it wears you out in a lot of different ways. Sponsors start to look at you and say, why aren't you winning? You know, you start to look at each other and say, what do we have to do? We kept working at it and Richard has made a lot of changes and that's the biggest reason everything has turned around. Some people may not think, or know how much has gone on. But when you look at the rosters, our team is pretty much the same but you look at the #31 team, we brought Jeff in part-way through last year and he and Kevin Hamlin have worked well together. He came from a team that raised a lot of scenarios and has had a lot of success over the past few years. And bringing Felipe Lopez in.I could sit here and go on and on. But, yeah, losing sucks. Losing sucks bad.
I think in this sport, it can humble you as quick as anything. You can be on top and win championships and be there. We went a couple of long stretches throughout Dale and my career without winning races. It makes you strong. You've got to have it in your guts and you've got to have heart and you've got to have a passion for winning. If you want to sit back and let it ride, you can but we owe to too many people not to go out and try our best and win and that's what pushes you to do it.
WERE YOU AS STUNNED AS EVERYONE ELSE WHEN GREG BIFFLE DID NOT PIT?
I was excited, I know that much. I told him on the radio that he was a sitting duck. It's hard to be in that spot, when you're winning the race and usually everybody does the opposite of what you do and then everybody follows suit for the last three or four guys on the lead lap. And then they pit and it mixed evyerhnig up. I knew when he stayed on the race track that he wasn't going to be one of the cars that we had to worry about because tires meant so much for the first 15-20 laps. He had a good car but we were coming down pit road regardless.
TALK ABOUT YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU FOUND OUT ABOUT THE PUMP PROBLEM THIS MORNING?
I mean, it's not anything you can get upset about. It's kind of the way the cookie crumbles. So, it light of everything that's happened in the past few weeks, it's something I told Scott this morning that hopefully it's the end of the bad luck. Hopefully we can go on from there and it seemed like it was the end of the back luck. We knew it was the right decision to change it. This is not one of those places where you can drive a car that is setup for power steering and not have power steering. So, it was the right thing to do whether we won the race or not.
GIVEN WHAT HAPPENED IN MARTINSVILLE TO YOU THREE YEARS AGO, ARE YOU HUNGRIER NOW FOR A WIN AT MARTINSVILLE?
I don't know if I'm any hungrier. I know that we've run really well there the past few years and led a lot of laps and been in contention to win the race and just had little things happen. We go up there with the same inspiration to win the race as we would every other week. Martinsville is definitely one of those places we've run well over the past few years and feel our chances are really good there, so we're excited and after you win a race and as Richard says, you get a little 'mo, or momentum, on your side, it's something that hopefully you can run with.