Daytona 500: Top three press conference, part 3

Continued from part 2 Q: How soon or at what point did you know that all that crashing was going on behind you, and when you did know it, did you expect there to be a yellow flag? KEVIN HARVICK: I saw the yellow come out right after we ...

Continued from part 2

Q: How soon or at what point did you know that all that crashing was going on behind you, and when you did know it, did you expect there to be a yellow flag?

KEVIN HARVICK: I saw the yellow come out right after we crossed the start/finish line I believe. I don't really know when it came out. I was concentrating on -- Mark got back in front of me for just a split second there. I had him not cleared but I was in front of him coming off of turn four and he side drafted. And usually when you get the side draft back right where you can get back by. So that was what I was concentrating on the most.

Q: Were you aware of how close Kyle Busch came to running into the side of you going into turn three, and did you guys see that?

KEVIN HARVICK: I knew I was going so much faster than the momentum would carry him down the track. I saw him coming up, and at that point I was committed to it. It was just going to be one of those deals where either he doesn't come all the way up or we probably all crash. We had taken so many chances at that point that -- it was the last lap of the Daytona 500, and you've got to go.

Q: You talked about what the new colors and the new sponsor, a chance to establish your own identity a little bit more, finally emerge from the shadows. How big a step is this win in doing that?

KEVIN HARVICK: We've been extremely focused on our race cars and let them do the talking for us. We've laid low this week and over the winter and just really trying to do things kind of on our own agenda, and we felt like we really stuck to our agenda and our plan and did things as we wanted to.

Shell and Pennzoil have been great to work with. And coming into the sport, first race, and winning the Daytona 500 is pretty big. No matter what the colors, GM Goodwrench and Dale Earnhardt and Richard, are all the people that got RCR to the point that it is today. Things change and sponsors change, and we had to move forward. But winning is what makes the shadow less, and being successful on the racetrack and making things happen. That's what makes it less.

Q: This is for Todd and Richard. Kevin said earlier that when he was in the back of the pack and he had the problem with the nose, it was the new maturity of the team that really kept you guys in there. Can you talk a little bit about the involvement of the team and coming close to the championship last year and not winning help to make that team more mature?

TODD BERRIER: I feel for sure that just having the year we had last year makes you realize that you can do a lot of things you knew you could do, but you just proved that you can do them. So it gives everybody more initiative, more drive and more confidence to go out and do it.

And then I think having that happen, it's happened several times, I think there was 20 some laps to go in the race, and it's not unusual to have cars come from 30th back up to the front in 20, 30 laps in these kind of races.

It's just our team has been together a long time and work really hard together, and it's just pretty nice to have all that hard work paying off.

Q: Richard, you took a team that had been questionable and turned it around, changed the employees and put two cars in the Chase, and now you've won the Daytona 500. Can you tell how that feels? What a statement about not quitting.

RICHARD CHILDRESS: It feels great, but it isn't about that I done this or that. It's the team work of everybody at RCR. We made a lot of changes that was for the better. You know, I'm just proud of where we're at today, and we're looking at tomorrow and looking at next week.

I think this team, like Todd said, has matured. They've been together -- he and Kevin have been together now for quite a few years, and that's what it takes to win championships, is having a team to mature together. These guys know what they're thinking before they even do something. I'm proud of what they've accomplished in winning the Daytona 500.

Q: Could you just comment a bit on how it seemed the entire complexion of this race changed and seemingly the players changed when you had the accident when everything got strung out and the 20 and the 2 got together?

KEVIN HARVICK: A bunch of demons came out when it got dark, I know that much. All hell broke loose after that. The complexion of the race changed when it got dark because everybody's car started handling so much better. It got anywhere near the end of the race, and I think it was 50 laps to go, and everybody was three wide, two wide, beatin' and bangin', and it was just kind of survival of the fittest at that point.

We were fortunate to be a part of the race in the beginning of the race and be a part of the race when it counted at the end, too. That's the most important thing.

Q: Richard, you've been here before. What does it mean to a team to win the Daytona 500 as far as the year goes? And for Kevin, where does this rank in comparison to your Brickyard 400 victory?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, it's a momentum builder. It's kind of payday for everybody that worked so hard all winter. I know how much Todd and his group has put in it and everybody at RCR. And to come here and win the Daytona 500 just gives you a boost and a jump-start going into the rest of the year. You know, it's a confidence builder.

Q: You've got a new sponsor here, and you kick off kind of a new era of you starting off on your own with this sponsor. Richard, can you talk about what it means to have Pennzoil, what it means for them to get their first outing a win? And Kevin, no longer being the guy in black and starting a new era as a winner?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think, like I said earlier, none of us ever want to get rid of anything that ever has happened at RCR. You don't ever want to see things change. But things do change and things have to go forward. And we're just excited to have everybody from Pennzoil and Shell to be a part of our program. And they've been huge supporters of everything that we've done. Their activation has been just incredible to be a part of. To see them get involved and be a part of that and know how enthused they are.

But like I said, winning is what it's all about. And that's the best way to create your own identity, is to be successful. And we've been fortunate to have some success over the last couple years. We've won the Brickyard 400. But I don't think there's anything that can match a Daytona 500 in stock car racing. This is what it is, and this is as big as it gets. I'm just glad that we're able to accomplish that.

Q: This is for Kevin and Richard. This was obviously a wild and spectacular race, one that will be remembered for a long time, and you guys have come out on top. Do you think this will also help wipe out the memory of some of the problems that went on this week, scandals or whatever you want to call it?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I mean, you know, I'm glad we weren't a part of any of it. It's hard to start off Speed Weeks with everything going the wrong direction with points and people having to take a vacation. It's hard to continue forward like that.

So we're excited that everything has gone really good for us. And hopefully -- I don't know. I mean, there's a couple things that were pretty big, but I'm just glad we weren't a part of it.

@#Q: In Victory Lane you said something about you thought you broke your wrist. Can you explain that a little bit?

KEVIN HARVICK: I got so excited at the end of the race, and I knew we had won the race, and I guess I just didn't realize how excited I was. I punched the dang mirror out of the car. It just kind of hurt my hand a little bit. Just overexcited, I guess, knocked the mirror out.

Q: You talked about the demons coming out in the dark that changed the complexion of this race. What about when Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch went out? How did that change the complexion? It seemed like they were pretty strong cars.

KEVIN HARVICK: You could see that one coming from about lap 10. The 2 was running down on the apron a couple times, and the two weren't completely thrilled with each other. They were racing pretty hard. And when they got tangled up, the 20 had a really good car. But the end of the race was so much different than the first part of the race because it was just two and three wide and everybody all over the place. But it was a very enthusiastic race after it got dark.

Q: You were courted rather heavily last spring to go over to the Toyota, and I know that you gave it a lot of thought before you decided to stay with Richard Childress. Just talk about how well you feel about your decision to stay with Richard now that you've won the Daytona 500?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, it wasn't all my decision. I mean, it was our decision as a group. We wanted to make sure that we were all on the same page and pulling in the same direction. We wanted to win races. I mean, that's what we wanted to do. That's what I wanted to do, that's what Richard wanted to do, that's what Todd wanted to do.

You know, we just -- you have to follow your heart and let it guide you sometimes and let things happen how they're supposed to happen. I've got a lot of friends and a lot of loyal people that were behind me at RCR and felt like that's what I needed to do, and that's what we did.

Q: The hole in your radiator, there was so much going on, I just want to make sure I know, what incident or which one of the incidents caused you to get that at the end and at what point in the race did that happen?

KEVIN HARVICK: That's a good question. I know it was probably three cautions from the end. All of a sudden the water temperature just went crazy and we just put a little bit of tape on, and I think it probably got that hole knocked in there and probably just wasn't cooling right.

TODD BERRIER: Just had a hole knocked through the nose, and it was kind of disturbing what was happening in there with the duct work. Once we got it patched up, it was fine. There was no hole in the radiator, just the nose itself.

KEVIN HARVICK: Just kind of screwed up the way the intake of the air was coming into the radiator.

Q: Richard, can you talk about the healing process and what all this means tonight?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, winning tonight is great for today's deal, but I don't think anything will ever replace a friend, Dale Earnhardt, a great American race driver. Winning the race with him was great. I think the healing started for me when Kevin won in Atlanta, the third race. I think when Junior won here in July the 4th, that was some healing. And today, to win this race, just everything is healing.

But we still all miss him today as much as we did the day we lost him.

Q: With the unusually cold weather, the winds, what type of setup changes, anything different you guys did with the car for the race, any changes during the race?

TODD BERRIER: Yeah, we made a lot of changes during the race. And I think a part was a track change. I think us and the 5 got together and knocked the right front fender in about the same time it was starting to get dark. We got a lot tighter, so we had to make a lot of changes to the car up to that point. We kind of knew we wanted to pull the fender out but knew we were going to be back in 35th, 39th position or something. As it turned out we ended up back there anyway with the water temp. We would have been back there twice if it weren't for that.

The practice yesterday was very similar to what the day started out being, and then we were having to chase the track for the night conditions. We weren't really sure what that was going to be, so we kind of kept up with it as we went.

Q: I mean, this is the second straight day you're in here. Yesterday was your first win as a driver here. Can you just take us through what your emotions were this weekend?

KEVIN HARVICK: It's been a really calm week for us. Like I said earlier, we've kind of tried to do our own deal and just really concentrate on getting our cars to handle. It's pretty incredible, to be honest with you, to finally break that wall down and then win two days in a row, and then win the biggest race of the whole season.

It's a lot of fun. It's a lot of hard work that our guys have put in over the winter and over the past years to get to this point. I've probably screwed more of them up than I have done good.

You know, it's been a lot of fun to be a part of this weekend. To win the Saturday and Sunday race just makes it that much sweeter.

Q: And then just for Richard real quick, yesterday when you came in here you said you wanted to scream and jump on the table, so how are you feeling right now?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: The same deal. I may do it anyway (laughing). This is such a great race and so much goes into it. You know, it's such an international event, everyone all over the world watches it. To be a part of it and to win it, I think it's great. Whoo.

KERRY THARP: Congratulations. Thank you very, very much.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Kyle Busch