Daytona 500: Harvick - Wednesday media visit

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed how car is running in practice, the economy, close racing and other topics. HOW IS PRACTICE GOING? HOW IS YOUR CAR?...

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed how car is running in practice, the economy, close racing and other topics.

HOW IS PRACTICE GOING? HOW IS YOUR CAR? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS LEADING IN TO SUNDAY'S RACE? "Obviously we are excited to get to Sunday. There is a lot leading to Sunday's race, thank goodness. Had a little bit of trouble qualifying, we burned up a rearend gear there and the car really hadn't been that good in the first practice. We are changing a bunch of stuff and hopefully it gets better."

DO YOU EXPECT THE RACES HERE AT DAYTONA ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO COME DOWN TO THE LAST LAP? "I think a lot of that depends on just how the race shakes out. The last couple have come down to the last lap. You put those cars in a pack and when it gets to night time, the grip level goes up a little bit. It just all depends, if there is a caution at the end, it is going to come down probably the last lap. If everything is spread out and you have had a lot of green flag racing, it is hard to tell. Circumstances, if there is a caution late, then it will probably come down to that, if not, it probably won't."

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT NEW 50 FOOT RESTART ZONE? "I think it is good. They are going to look at it and see how it all works out this week. It just takes a lot of variance out of what you can do and what you can't do. It should keep things from getting stacked up. I think it will be fine once they know exactly how far it needs to be."

HOW HAIRY WILL THE 150s BE WITH SO MANY GUYS TRYING TO GET IN TO THE 500? "It all depends on where you are. We are going to start in the back of the second race. I think as the race places out you will see guys trying to make something happen and that is what makes the 150s great. There is stuff happenin' all over the place and you never really know who is going to be in the race and who is out of the race until the race is over. It is exciting. Obviously there are a few guys that have to make some things happen to get in."

DO YOU THINK MARK MARTIN WOULD BE THE GUY THAT IF OTHER DRIVERS COULDN'T WIN THE 500, THEY WOULD BE HAPPY IF HE WON? "Mark is very well respected within the garage and came really close in 2007. He has won pretty much everything but the Daytona 500 and the championship. Those are two pretty big things that he is capable, very capable of winning. I don't think there would be anybody disappointed with him winning the race."

I HAVE READERS WHO BELIEVE THAT RESTRICTOR PLACE RACES ARE TOO MUCH ABOUT LUCK AND NOT ENOUGH ABOUT RACING. CAN YOU ANSWER THEM; I AM HAVING A HARD TIME. "Yes, tell them to watch something else. If they don't like it they don't have to turn the TV on. That is the way I look at it. I thought it was pretty exciting. I think they are going to complain just to complain sometimes. It was an exciting race from start to finish. I have a hard time with people like that."

BECAUSE ECONOMISTS HAVE SAID IT IS GOING TO GET A WHOLE LOT WORSE BEFORE IT GETS A WHOLE LOT BETTER, IS THERE AN UNEASINESS AS BOTH AN OWNER AS A DRIVER? "Well, I think everybody is on their toes just to be able to adapt to whatever situation much like everybody did this winter. It is hard to listen to economists because they didn't really guided us in a good direction as we have listened to them over the past year. It is like, when something gets here, then they say this what is going to happen tomorrow after it is already happened. I think right now it is going to be an adjustment period as we go through seeing where everything actually goes, being ready to adapt to whatever situation is brought to hand. That is one good thing that Richard (Childress) has been really good at over the years. So as a driver, with an owner like that, you feel a lot more comfortable than what you would in some other situations. I think everybody is kind of on a wait and see game just to see where it all goes and how it all shakes out. This is a strong community and everybody bonds together well and when you get in situations like that, people tend to come together to see how they need to where it all goes and how it all shakes out. This a strong community and everybody bonds together well and when you get in situations like that, people tend to come together to see how they need to change something. Much like what happened over the winter, NASCAR said all right, we are just going to ban testing here. We are going to forward and see how it all shakes out. We don't care what you think, this is how it is going to be, this is the best thing for the sport. We will see how all that goes, but right now, I think the right adjustments, a lot of adjustments have been made up until this point, but it is kind of a waiting game as far as the actual, which way the economy is going to go. Because we've heard it is going to get worse before it is going to get better. We've heard some companies that it is going to get better in the middle of 2009 to the end of 2009. I am not buying in to all of it yet. You have to kind of adjust on your own and see where it goes."

HOW IMPORTANT WHERE YOU START IN THE DUELS AND THE 500? "The beginning is pretty intense just because everybody is bunched up. I think you see everyone settle. The hard part is if you start in the back in the Shootout, everybody is just going to be moving all over the place. There is going to be two and three wide racing, so if you get shuffled back you know you are going to be able to catch up.

"The thing that happens in the 500 is guys want to get away from the pack. So if you see seven, eight, 10 cars get lined up and you are in that second group, a lot of times, you won't be able to catch them unless everybody else gets lined up behind you. In the middle of the race, it tends to get strung out a little bit as the handling of the cars take affect and everyone kind of gets in a rhythm there to try to make something happen to get away from the pack. Because once you start running through green flag racing, unless something happens, like I said, it tends to get strung out. Guys are content with that because they know they are out of a mess if you are out of that front. Let's say, you should have a better chance of being out of the mess."

ARE YOU CONCERNED WITH THE SPEED DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE EGR (EARNHARDT GANASSI RACING) CARS AND YOUR RCR CARS WITH YOU ALL USING THE ECR (EARNHARDT CHILDRESS RACING)? "As you know, we started in the last row of the Shootout. There are a lot of things and it is a long week. That is one thing I have learned. Luckily our Shootout car came out of the truck and it was fast. This one is going to challenge us a little bit more. Those guys have always out qualified us and we tend to out race them so it is just a matter of finding that balance to get the cars to drive well. That is one thing about this place. If you don't have speed you work on the handling of your car and it gives you some options. Where if you were at Talladega, you pretty much got what you got and hope for the best. Tomorrow, the first 150 race, you will see where you stack up and where you are speed-wise and know what direction you need to go for Friday and Saturday as far as what you need to work on."

HOW HAVE YOU AND DELANA DONE DURING THE OFF SEASON TO TIGHTEN YOUR BELTS? "Basically, there isn't any part of the company we haven't touched. We have gone from everything to renegotiating our travel deal, to deciding how many people you are going to have in the shop left behind. How many rental cars rented at the track. There is not anything within any of these companies that hasn't been looked at, all right; this is what we are going to do. This is what we need to change and this is how many people we are going to have. On the Truck side, our truck sponsorships are in good shape. We are a little bit short on the Nationwide. We are committed to running that car the full season. All in all, everything from top to bottom has been touched and looked at and adjusted. There is not any company in the world that hasn't done that, I hope with the economic times that we are in. I think as business owners, you look at everything and make the adjustments on the fly and try to do the best you can with all the knowledge you have."

DO YOU FEEL PRETTY CONFIDENT AS A TEAM OWNER ARE THE REVENUE SIDE OR HAVE YOU HAD ANY ASSURANCES THAT THE PURSE MONEY IS GOING TO STAY UP TO THE LEVEL YOU BUDGETED? "From everything I have seen, all of that is the same, relatively the same as it was last year. I think if it has changed, you won't even notice. For the most part, your income is down from a sponsorship standpoint because that is just the way it is right now. The efficiency of your team has to...and the amount that you spend has to go down as well. I think we have, from a KHI standpoint, we have made adjustments on running on less budgets than what we did last year."

HOW WILL THE NEW RULE CHANGES AFFECT YOUR TRUCK TEAMS SINCE YOU CAN ONLY GET EITHER GAS OR TIRES ON PIT STOPS? "It is going to change the strategy a lot. It was already some good strategy with the four or five sets of tires you get a weekend, knowing that is what you had and you had to pit around how many tires you had. I think it is going to add another element to what was already an exciting and now it is going to make the crew chief's jobs even that much tougher. From a truck standpoint, those things put on such a good race, you are adding another element to it; it is just going to be some different strategies that you have to adjust to."

HOW HARD IS IT TO ADJUST TO THE DRIVERS IN NEW CARS AND NEW COLORS? "You go through that every year. It is much more publicized this year than it has been in the past. There is always a lot of changes. I would be interested in seeing how many changes actually took last year compared to how many took place this year. It doesn't seem like a substantial amount more. That is part of our sport. It has always been part of it since I have been here. There is always an adjustment period at the beginning of the year as to who is driving what car. You have to kind of put a new play book in your head I guess you could say and really just pay attention to who you are around until you get used to it after a few weeks."

HOW DID YOU IMPROVE LAST YEAR AS A DRIVER? "I'm not a look-back guy. I am a one week at a time. That is how I do my schedule. That is how I look at everything. I think you take something from every week. There is something that you learn on the race track, off the race track, around the race track no matter what week it is, there is always something that you learn. That is a pretty long list."


WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING THING ABOUT DAYTONA? "Just coming in to the place. You know this is your biggest race, your biggest event. The hardest part about it is keeping yourself kind of even keeled across the board as you go through the week.

"You have a high on Shootout night; you never know how that is going to go. Then you have qualifying and we had a low and you don't know how that is going to affect everything. So you have to keep a balance until you get to Sunday and really understand what goes with the week. That is one good thing about it. As the first couple of years rolled around, that was the hardest thing for me to get accustomed to be not getting to emotional over every day because things chance so fast over the course of the week. The race track gets more rubber, cars get tore up, things happen, tire issues-we haven't had any of those years. If the car isn't driving well. There are just so many adjustments. That is a challenge, so that is fun. Just knowing, especially this year, since we hadn't been at the race track as much over the winter, just pulling in here and the anticipation of the buildup to the race is a lot of fun no matter how many times you have been here or how much you have done it, it is just very enjoyable the lead up to the race and the build up to the race."

ARE THERE GOING TO BE TIRE ISSUES THIS YEAR? "We have gone through the shootout, we haven't had any tire issues that I have seen on our car and I haven't seen really anything in the garage. Tough spot to be in for Goodyear from last year, running a lot of new race tracks, going there for the first time. This car is still in evolution whenever we go from week to week. I think everybody has a good year and a half under their belt with the car now, so seems like the tire has been really good since we got here and I think it will be good for the most part any where we go."

WHAT, IF ANYTHING, DID MARK MARTIN SAY TO YOU AFTER YOU WON HERE TWO YEARS AGO? "Nothing. He didn't say anything. The only time we ever talked about it was at media day the next year. And that because they made us. We are both just racers and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. It wasn't really that big of a deal ever amongst us."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup