Daytona 500: Harvick Media Day transcript

Daytona 500 Media Day Daytona International Speedway February 9, 2006 An interview with: KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS: Q. On pushing the rules and taking risks, are the penalties worth it? KEVIN HARVICK: I...

Daytona 500 Media Day
Daytona International Speedway
February 9, 2006

An interview with:
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:

Q. On pushing the rules and taking risks, are the penalties worth it?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think you have to be willing to take a risk. I just don't know that the risks are always worth the penalty. I think in Todd's (Berrier, crew chief) case, he's a little bit under the microscope, so I think his risks are going to be more -- they're going to result in more of a penalty than what it would be from somebody else.

You know, you have to kind of balance the risks worth the gain. I think Todd learned a little bit last year of how to balance that. But I don't think that's going to stop him from taking chances. I don't expect him -- I would hope he doesn't stop taking chances.

Q. That's a double standard.

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I mean, there's a little bit of a double standard. There's probably a reason why Chad Knaus maybe has been brown-nosing to much. I don't know. Maybe we need to brown-nose a little more.

Q. On reviewing his situation at RCR in April

KEVIN HARVICK: I don't think we've had a specific date. That's just a date that we've decided to talk about things going forward. You know, just to try to get everything off to a good start this season, and really focus on the beginning of the year. We both know it has to be addressed. We both know it has -- the circumstance has to be addressed and it has to happen at some point early in the year.

But we want to make sure that we do everything we can for the sponsors, the people working on the cars and ourselves, to focus on what we need to focus on going forward.

That's the most important thing right now, is to focus on trying to win the Daytona 500. If you're winning races, usually things take care of themselves on that side.

Q. This year marks the fifth anniversary of Dale Earnhardt's death. How much of a distraction is that for you as a team?

KEVIN HARVICK: It's the first I've heard about it, honestly. It hasn't been a distraction. Obviously, we live it every day, so it's probably a little bit different for us than it is for some people.

We live that, you know, from the day that it's happened until right now in this moment. Obviously, it's something that everybody remembers, everybody wants to forget but you can't. You know, you go out and try to do the best you can and carry the legacy forward.

Q. On the magnitude of Earnhardt's death

KEVIN HARVICK: To be honest with you, it was probably the next year before you realized the magnitude of the situation. Before I was so busy and had so many things to do that it really wasn't thought about until the year got over.

Once you step back and look at the situation, you really realized what the magnitude of the situation was.

Q. On the overnight success of Kevin Harvick Inc.

KEVIN HARVICK: I think it all comes down to people. We cherry picked a little bit, I guess you could say. When we started the truck deal, I drove the truck, tried to establish a lot of the things that we needed, established a foundation for the truck team. We took the truck team, we put a driver in it. It's been solid, you know, year in and year out.

The Busch car, we did the same thing. Stewart wanted to run some Busch races. He carried the Busch car. We established points with the car. We'll do the same thing again this year. We gave the 33 points to the 77 car, established that team there in the first five races. Myself and Tony Stewart, we'll run the first five races in our car to establish the points, establish the foundation for the team, know where we need to work on. That's kind of the philosophy we've taken.

Q. Why did you want to be an owner so soon in the prime of your driving career?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think the reason that I wanted to do it now is because I could afford to screw up (laughter). That's probably the biggest reason, was just to establish everything that we needed. Every year that you go forward, it becomes more profitable because you don't have to go out and buy trucks, you don't have to buy trailers, you don't have to buy tools. If we can get everything that we need now, the foundation will be set and all the tools and things that you need to run a race team will be there. If I ever decide that I'm tired of driving, I'll have the race teams established.

Q. Back to the Earnhardt thing for one minute. It was almost like the people who had been there felt like they were betraying Dale's memory every time a change came. Do you believe that's true?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think he had his hand in a lot of things. When things needed to be changed, when he told them to change it, they would change it. I think when everybody had to start thinking for themselves, figure out when it was time to change it for themselves, it wasn't -- there wasn't that reassuring voice there and that experience there to tell them that it was okay to change something, we need to go forward.

You know, there's just a little bit of insecurity, unsure of when the right time is to change things.

Q. What's the key ingredient to winning?

KEVIN HARVICK: Fast cars. That's what it all boils down to.

Q. Do you feel like you got that ingredient here?

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I believe our car will be good. But these races, to be fast on these racetracks, you have to have fast cars.

Q. Why are you running in the Busch Series, limited tests, and tires

KEVIN HARVICK: I think, you know, we decided to do that obviously before they changed the schedule on the impounds. But the practice has backed off a little bit.

I think with the limited testing and the limited amount of tire availability, I think it will be important to understand the tires and understand, you know, cambers and tire wear and air pressures and things like that. Those are the main reasons that we're doing it.

Q. Won't it be tough to run both Cup and Busch?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think, you know, I mean, I wind up running 20 some Busch races a year anyway. You know, to do 10 or 12 more, there's really only one month, I think it's June, where all the races are back to back, and the first part of July. So it's a lot easier than it was in 2001, I think. I think we'll be fine as long as the weather cooperates.

Q. As the owner of a Busch team, how do you look at the Cup teams financially?

KEVIN HARVICK: You have to have the money to spend. If you don't have the money to go test and spend, build cars and hire people, you know, you're not going to compete. You have to make sure that your marketing guy does a good job so you can have enough money to go race.

It's a challenge, but we've only done it for one year. I think we did okay at it, so we just have to do it again.

Q. How do you feel about plate racing in general? Do you find it exciting, boring, scary?

KEVIN HARVICK: The testing part of it is very boring. The racing part of it is -- I enjoy it. I'd rather see the Busch package on the Cup cars. I think it's more exciting of a race. I think it gives you a little bit more room and a little bit more forgiveness if you make a mistake, have to let off the gas and recover.

But, you know, I think there's a few of them that don't like that, so... Politics.

Q. In regard to the amount of pit stops needed to stay up front every weekend, what does it take to develop that chemistry within the team? Do you see your guys are close?

KEVIN HARVICK: I've had the same guys, this will be the third year. Our guys do a really good job on pit road, you know, have done a good job for the past couple years. It takes a while to find all those guys. It's harder to keep them than it is to find them. That's the hardest thing, is to keep the same group of guys year after year so you can develop and build on a scenario and situation with people on your race team.

It's harder to keep them than it is to get them.

Q. Several of the big stars have interests outside the sport. Do you think that's a disappointing turn of events?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think it's unfortunate. I I'd like to see people, you know, if you're going to be the biggest star of the sport, step up and be the biggest supporter of the sport. I think they should take more responsibility of being the voice of our sport, being the voice in the garage for somebody to step up to if they have a question.

I don't see that happening.

Q. There is a void?

KEVIN HARVICK: There is a void there, yeah.

Q. Could you fill that void?

KEVIN HARVICK: Could I fill that void? Probably, but...

Q. Do you want to?

KEVIN HARVICK: I don't think I've been here long enough to fill that void. I think that void should be filled by somebody who's been here for a while.

Q. Almost a generation gap in a way.

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I mean, everybody looks at me like I've been here forever. I've only been here for five years. In order to take that role, somebody has to have been here, you know, for a while. You guys can probably figure out who it should be.

Q. You're obviously hoping to be around for a long time. What are your feelings on the car of the future?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think the car of tomorrow is great for the safety aspect. I think from a driver aspect inside the cockpit, I think it's safer. I think there are a lot of aspects of it that are safer. I think it's the ugliest thing I've ever seen on the racetrack since 1985. It looks like an '85 Trans-Am car. I think it's going to be a hard sell to the manufacturers to make the car presentable to sell to the general public, to spend their money on to have something that looks like something that's gone back 20 years.

They have to make it look better.

Q. What about Kyle Petty's comments on the car of tomorrow?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think, you know, the team owners are having to pay for the tires, having to pay to build these cars, having to pay the test teams, and they're having to pay for the racetrack rental. To me you're going to develop a car and you're going to have to, you know, pay for it. I mean, you really don't want to build the car in the first place. Don't develop it. I mean, why should somebody spend a million dollars to develop a car to go race?

Q. Let NASCAR do the development work on it?

KEVIN HARVICK: NASCAR should pay for the development work on the car of tomorrow.

Q. Did you have fun when you were out there against Tony Stewart in last year's Busch race?

KEVIN HARVICK:  I think racing in the Busch Series with Tony and a lot of
the guys from the Cup Series, it's kind of a breath of fresh air.  It's
fun to go race.  It's fun to be on the track, not have really anything at
stake other than to try to win the race.  That's a lot of fun.

Q. Tough beating your own driver?

KEVIN HARVICK: Win-win both ways (laughter).

Q. On noticing smoke coming out of the air conditioning unit at the RCR museum when returning from skeet shooting

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I've only been through there I think twice. I hadn't been through there in the last couple years. The museum is really neat, has a lot of the history of RCR in the museum. I hadn't been through there that much. I saw it was on fire the other night. We had the fire trucks and the air conditioner unit caught on fire. We kept it from burning down the other night.

Q. Did you handpick Bernie and Ron?

KEVIN HARVICK: No, DeLana and I were laying in bed watching the shootout from Irwindale. That's kind of where we discovered Bernie. Ron is my choice. I'd say as long as we have the truck and he wants to drive, he'll drive it.

Q. Is that kind of loyalty thing?

KEVIN HARVICK: Oh, yeah. He has a lot to do with the reason that I'm here. I think, you know, we have the best driver in the series. As long as he wants to do it, he can drive that.

Q. How well did you know Dale Earnhardt?

KEVIN HARVICK: I came in and, you know, I didn't get to know him as well. You know, I know some of the guys now. But it was just at the beginning of my time at RCR.

Q. What kind of impression did you have of him?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think he was -- you know, he was obviously pretty busy. But he was a pretty giving person, pretty laid back as far as, you know, when it came to normal life and just liked to do normal things, go hunting, fishing, do the things he liked to do.

Q. Incredibly confident about everything.

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, there was never anything wrong. He was always sure that everything will work out, it will be fine. That was pretty much the way it was.

Q. Is that remarkable?

KEVIN HARVICK:  Yeah, yeah.  I mean, everybody is kind of high strung and
panicky.  Why is that (laughter)?  Just go do your job.  All you can do,
right?  Go do it 110% and you'll be fine.

Q. (Inaudible)?

KEVIN HARVICK: I got a funny story I'll tell you. We were sitting around and I decided we were going to go shoot shotguns. We had never shot a gun in our life. We decided we were going to take the time to go into Earnhardt's office. Like you say, he was always pretty confident, pretty busy. He had papers stacked a mile high on his desk. He's sitting behind his desk going, "What do you guys need?" He had his glasses on because he couldn't see a hundred percent. He's looking over his glasses and he said -- we told him we wanted to go shoot shotguns. He just gave us that stare. He looked at us and he said, "Why would you want to shoot shotguns? You guys don't even know how to load a gun, you don't know how to shoot." Anyway, to make a long story short, that was where I received my first gun.

Q. What advice would you give the rookies coming into the Cup Series?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think the biggest thing is, you know, I talk to Clint about it a lot, just time management, really making sure you take care of yourself, take care of a lot of the things that everybody wants you to do. You can say no. Just take care of yourself, take care of your time, do the things that keep yourself healthy and happy.

Q.  What are challenges in being a driver in the series with all the
publicity, a lot of opportunities that you probably turn down?  What is
it like?  What are the dangers a rookie driver can face?

KEVIN HARVICK: I mean, the biggest dangers they face are heading down the wrong road. You know, there's a lot of temptations to go out and party and do the things that every 22, normal 23-year-old would do. I mean, those are the hardest things that you have to realize, you know, this is a job. Carl Edwards said it the best the other day. This is a job. With the job and the fame comes a lot of responsibility. There's a lot of people depending on you to do your job and to do your job right off the racetrack as well. There's a lot of responsibility with that in a lot of different ways.

Q. In this type of race, who are you most confident running behind?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, the restrictor plate stuff is so hard because everybody, you kind of have to fend for yourself. Usually it's good to follow the 8 because usually if the No. 8 goes somewhere, the rest of the pack's going to follow it, too. That's usually one good one to follow.

Q. Do you have a prerace routine you go on? Buckle your helmet with your left hand, make sure you touch the top of your helmet with the car?

KEVIN HARVICK:  No, I don't really have any prerace rituals or anything
like that.  Just kind of do whatever comes along at the moment.

Q. What do you think about the NASCAR Hall of Fame should be?

KEVIN HARVICK: Is that where it's at, Charlotte? Charlotte, Atlanta, Daytona. I think there's probably a lot of different things they have to look at to understand where it should or shouldn't go. Charlotte seems to be where all the race teams are and everything's at.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Tony Stewart , Kyle Petty , Kevin Harvick , Carl Edwards , Chad Knaus