Daytona 500: Top three press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: This is for all three of you. All three of you have varying levels of experience in this sport. Is this the wildest finish or the wildest final 40 laps all three of you have ever been involved in? KEVIN HARVICK: I...

Continued from part 1

Q: This is for all three of you. All three of you have varying levels of experience in this sport. Is this the wildest finish or the wildest final 40 laps all three of you have ever been involved in?

KEVIN HARVICK: I know for me I told them on the radio, I says, I don't know what's happening out here but I'm putting myself as close as I can to the wall so I'll hit something as least hard as possible.

There at the end, people were dragging the walls. I know I hit the wall two or three times there at the end of the race. I think I hit the back end of the 17, straightened him back out there, in the next to last caution. It was the wildest thing I've been a part of in a long time.

MARK MARTIN: I was ahead of it all (laughter). It was pretty decent up there where I was sitting.

KEVIN HARVICK: It was very entertaining behind you.

MARK MARTIN: I'm sure it was. I'm usually back there bouncing off of everything, so I was enjoying myself.

Q: Kevin, you talked yesterday about what the win meant for RCR, with the success you've had here in the past. What does today's win mean as far as what this team has done in the past?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think obviously RCR has a very deep history here with everything they've done, and with Dale winning the 500 in '98. They've won a lot of races here, and we've been close to winning a lot of races here. And it always seems like something happening.

We had things happen today, and I think it just shows the maturity of our team and all of us coming through and putting everything back together and coming back up through the field.

Q: Kevin, you brought I don't know if the right word is 'redemption' to Richard, winning back at I think it was Rockingham in 2001. What did he say to you today right after this win?

KEVIN HARVICK: He just kept looking at me saying, Man, this is the Daytona 500, can you believe it? It's the Daytona 500.

Knowing the history of Richard and RCR and everything that he's done in NASCAR racing, it's hard to put into words the history of RCR and how much they've meant to this sport. And to be part of that history is something that is just hard to put into perspective. And until we get further down the road, it's hard to put it all into words right now.

Q: This is for Kevin and sort of for Mark, too. You have such a respect for the history of this sport and the guys who really built it, so is any part of it just a little disappointing that Mark didn't get that win? And then for Mark would you have been disappointed had Kevin not raced you as hard as he did to maybe give you that win?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think, like I told you earlier, I knew when I got out of the car I wasn't going to be the good guy. But that's just the way it works. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. And unfortunately today -- fortunately today was our day to win.

MARK MARTIN: In this sport, no one ever races less. But had that been the case hypothetically, it would have broke me in half. That's what I love about this sport, because it's hard. It's what's driven me for over 30 years, and that's what I love about it, and that's why I'm here, was here today, because I had the choice of whether or not I wanted to race the Daytona 500. I wanted a chance -- I wanted a shot at it, and these guys gave me a shot.

Q: Mark, do you go home tonight feeling like, Oh, I came this close and feeling bad, or do you go home and say, I had the best Daytona 500 I ever had in my life and I feel great ?

MARK MARTIN: I've got a feeling it'll be a little of both. We were very close, and it wasn't a fluke. It was a two-month-long drag. We've been down here a week and a half. We haven't shown anybody any real pizzazz, and we methodically worked our way into the position. We didn't back into it or anything else. I'm very proud of the effort.

I probably will feel some sadness somewhere along the line. Right now I was focused on my job. My heart wasn't broke. I've done this stuff a long time, and I've had a lot worse happen than what happened there in the last 200 yards of this race happen to me, and you guys know it - a lot worse. If I'm lucky, Bobby Ginn might put me in a car in the 500 again next year.

And I want to say one other thing, too. This was an awesome effort today and this week and this month, but we still have work to do. It's not all golden. The challenge that they've given -- that I have and that we all have at Ginn Racing is out there for us, and we have -- we do have many more challenges.

It's not all going to be as golden as today, and I know that. I'm going to continue to roll my sleeves up and work at it.

Q: Mark, you said you were looking for a pusher there at the end. Does it make it any worse that your old Roush teammate kind of pushed Kevin to victory, Matt Kenseth?

MARK MARTIN: No, no. I haven't even seen the finish. It is what it is. We were inches or feet or whatever we were short. It was so close, but it was second.

I couldn't expect Jeff Burton to have come behind me. I thought Kyle Busch was behind me. I didn't know until just recently. I felt confident. Kyle Busch's car was really fast and I thought he was going to be trapped on the inside, he was going to have nowhere to go and have no option but to push me. His car was fast. And we both had Hendrick power, and I still thought we were going to be all right.

But then I didn't realize that he was in the wreck. I wasn't looking back very much. I had my eye on Kevin.

Q: Can you talk about what was going through your mind during that 11-minute red flag period where you're just sitting there lying in wait?

MARK MARTIN: You know, I didn't -- I stayed focused and I ran over the restarts and scenarios and thought about what I needed to do and how I need to do it. I'll be real honest with you. I'm very proud of the effort I made on the final restart. I was very proud at the middle of the backstretch coming for the checkered flag to have Kyle where he was and contained, I felt, which was the most immediate threat because his car seemed so fast. At that point I felt like I had done -- I had done everything that I could do. And when I get done here tonight, I probably will feel like I did everything that I could do.

I don't know of any particular scenario that I could have changed that would have changed the outcome. I expected a push from behind as I exited the corner. I still felt like I was in the catbird seat in that respect and never looked back. I didn't realize that we were in that position.

Q: Mark, yesterday you said that it would be huge to win the Daytona 500, but you wouldn't waste your time dreaming about it. And then out on Pit Road just a little bit ago you said you had a dream. Did you have that last night or were you daydreaming out there today?

MARK MARTIN: I think I was referring to when I signed the deal with Ginn. I didn't do it -- I didn't sign the deal with Ginn with consideration of their restrictor plate cars. Immediately after I signed it, I reminded everyone that they had really fast restrictor plate cars. And I have not been particularly in position to win these races in the 6 car, especially in the last several years.

And so that's basically what I was referring to, that I knew that I might have the best chance ever the day after we signed the deal, and it came true. That was true, I did have the best shot ever.

Q: This entire week has been all about this cheating. Does a finish like today's help heal things a little bit?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, there has been a lot of things go on this week. You know, I think some of them were probably a little bit further than the rest of us ever thought it would go. But I think anytime there's a good race on the racetrack, it helps mend things. But I think it's still going to take a little bit to get over some of the issues that happened.

Q: You sound as if you're perfectly okay with the racing back to the green, almost you would have rather it been decided that way. Is that what you're saying? You could raise a little more hell and turn this into a big controversy it seems like. Do you not want to win it this way?

MARK MARTIN: No, that's not it. Nobody wants to hear a grown man cry, all right? That's what it is. And I'm not going to cry about it. This is what it is, and that's it. That's the end.

Their decision, they made the decision, and that's what we're going to live with.

KERRY THARP: Thank you, Mark. Congratulations on a great race out there tonight.

We're also going to call up our championship team owner Richard Childress and crew chief Todd Berrier.

Todd, talk about the race from your vantage point in the pit box and maybe some of the strategy you guys utilized there towards the end.

TODD BERRIER: The race was pretty unbelievable, the finish was. Everything else was pretty typical from our side of things. Seems like every race we have overheating problems, we have stuff to fight back from, we always end up at the back and end up at the front and end up at the back. Seems like we always have wrecks.

It was just historic, seemed like everything was just the same as it was. He got them runs there coming back from all that, which was -- it was four wide, three wide all the time. It was just hard to believe that we actually made it all the way back to the front, and then for the finish to be like it was, it was pretty awesome.

KERRY THARP: Richard, what's does it feel like to win another Daytona 500?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: It's great. It really hasn't sunk in yet. I'll wake up in the middle of the night and scream. It was unbelievable to see the moves that Kevin made. I've seen a lot of these Daytona 500s, and this had to be the wildest Daytona 500 I've ever watched. I told Kevin, we were talking at one time, I said I kept my eyes shut there a little bit, it was so wild.

Just proud of everybody at RCR and Kevin Harvick and Shell/Pennzoil, everybody that's involved, Todd Berrier and his group, our restrictor plate engine guys did a great job, as well.

Q: What is your feeling right now? Six years ago today, to this date, Dale passed away. What are you feeling about that today with this win?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, it's just -- it's a great win. You know, it gives me thoughts back to our win here in '98. And it's just -- we're cherishing the moment of winning this Daytona 500. And I know Dale is proud of everything that we've done, and Kevin jumping in there and doing what he done for us. It's just been an unbelievable ride.

Q: Is there an irony because it's the same date do you think?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: I don't know, you know, really. It could be, you know. It's just unbelievable to be sitting here tonight.

Q: Kevin, as I watched the replay or watched it live and then the replay, I was a little bit surprised with all the momentum you had coming out of turn two. As you came halfway down the backstretch you could tell that line was really flying. Were you surprised nobody else jumped out in front of you to try to stop your momentum to try to use that to push you guys through?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, the 5 started to come up there, but we were just going so much faster than they were, that I had the 17 and the 31, and we just had such a run back there, that I was coming like a freight train I guess you could say, and we were up against the wall. At that point it was take all you can take and there wasn't any give.

I think that they just realized how fast we were going. I apologize for quivering because I'm cold.

Q: What did you think about what Mark said about not seeing a grown man cry? What did you think about that reaction, and then you shook his hand?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I've got to know Mark over the last few years, and there's not a more competitive person in the garage. You know, he used to get a bad rap for sometimes speaking his mind and coming out and saying things. And Mark is one of the best people you'll ever meet. But he is one of the best race car drivers that's ever sat in the seat of any of these NASCAR races.

To get to race against Mark Martin is an honor, and just for the fact that he will drive that car as hard as it'll go every lap and won't ever give up. You know, it's a lot of fun to race against those guys.

Continued in part 3

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin