Daytona II: Winning team press conference

Transcripts: Daytona International Speedway July 4, 2010 An Interview With: KEVIN HARVICK - Winner GIL MARTIN - Crew chief RICHARD CHILDRESS - Owner THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by tonight's winning driver,...

Transcripts: Daytona International Speedway
July 4, 2010

An Interview With:
GIL MARTIN - Crew chief

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by tonight's winning driver, driver of the #29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick. Tell us about your run.

KEVIN HARVICK: Obviously it was a good night. Same old Daytona, cars moving around and bouncing around, and handling came into play, and you saw a lot of passing and shuffling, and then there at the end we had the big wreck and we were fortunate to be in front of it. And really coming to the white I thought it was going to be the 33 first and us second, and then the caution came out and we could see the white flag. I was content about that. I knew those guys needed a good day, and I knew you never know what's going to happen on the last lap with people pushing and shoving from the back. But on the last restart, once the 24 pulled out and slowed those outside two lines down, that was pretty much the end of it.

THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by tonight's winning crew chief, Gil Martin. Gil, your thoughts about how the race unfolded tonight and your view from on top of the box.

GIL MARTIN: The good thing about it is Kevin come from the back a couple times early on in the race. We took two tires early in the race and it kind of got us behind the 8-ball because it was good for about five laps and it then it kind of wasn't any good. We got a little bit loose after that, so we knew towards the end of the race that we were going to have to get four from then on.

The lucky thing about it, we got that out of the way and didn't have to gamble with that later on. Can't say enough about ECR engines and the way all three cars ran up front. It was a good night.

Q: Kevin, you and Clint had worked so well right there before the last caution just blowing by Gordon, and y'all looked like at the latter stage of the race you were just unstoppable as a tandem. When y'all lined up from the green-white checkered did you sit there beside him, thinking, hey, buddy, it's all over; one of us is going to have to go? Or was there any way you could have pulled off y'all getting back together?

KEVIN HARVICK: No, it was every man for himself at that point, just for the fact with the double-file restarts and the way that it all shook out. You know the guys behind you are going to push you as hard as they can, so if I slow down to let him in or something like that, it's just going to give the other line some momentum. At that point you just hope that your line goes faster than the other line, and fortunately tonight we were in the right line on the bottom. And it wound up working out.

Q: Kevin, obviously you're still in the lead with points with this victory. How confident are you that you can unseat Jimmie Johnson this year, and how much of a goal is that for you and the other drivers?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think until somebody beats him, he's still the -- until we get to Homestead and that happens, he's still the guy to beat. For us we've just got to keep working hard. We're in a fortunate position with the start to our season, and we need to -- we've got to plan to keep working on our cars and keep trying to make things better, and hopefully when the stress starts with ten weeks to go, we'll be as ready as we've ever been from the 29 and RCR standpoint, and I think we have a good plan for that.

But you never know what's going to happen until you get in there. You've got to be on your hot streak. You've got to do everything right. You've got to minimize the DNFs, you've got to win a race or two, you've got to finish in the top 5 and do all the things that we've been doing in the Chase. You've just got to make it happen at the right time.

Q: At the end of the race there, really at any race, are the top five or six cars there, is there a lot of difference in them? Are there better cars, or is it all still just a crap shoot?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think when you get to the end of the race here, obviously I think the only car that didn't have tires tonight was the 33. Some of them had two, and four tires is the way to go. So you have a mixture of that stuff. So you have cars that are able to take pushes a little bit better and be able to keep the throttle down wide open getting into the corners.

You know, at that point you're hoping for a good push or something to happen so if you're fourth or fifth you can break through to get in the mix coming to the white flag. Tonight it didn't come down to the white flag, but usually it does, and usually it comes from a push down the back stretch.

Q: A year ago you guys were really struggling, RCR, and now this year you've turned it all around. Can you talk a little bit about what's made the difference this year, what maybe happened in the off-season, and what's just different?

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I don't think -- I would say definitely didn't happen this year. Most everything happened the middle of last year. A lot of management changes, pretty much started over on our race cars, took a different direction with the engineering and really just kind of came up with a new plan.

But Richard pulled the trigger on a lot of different things, whether it was reorganizing people, whether it was getting us the funds to build new cars. I mean, he stepped out on a huge limb to spend the money to start over with basically four teams halfway through the year, and it's paying off now for us.

So at least we got back to where we could start this year and everything has been progressing through the year, and we've been competitive every week. After last year you don't complain about anything, whether you've won one race or no races or two races now. You're happy with where things are. I think we were 27th or 28th in points after this race last year, so really excited about the turnaround. It's pretty remarkable to tell you the truth. But in the end, I think Richard is the one who pulled all the triggers to make everything happen.

Q: I have a question for both of you. For Gil, can you talk a little bit about the tires and why so many people had trouble with the tires at the start? And for Kevin, right after that 19-, 20-car wreck in 4 you came over the radio and said I don't know why Burton pulled out of line. Did that have something to do with everything that backed up behind him and just kind of triggered it?

GIL MARTIN: As far as the tires, I think a lot of that, the issues that everybody had at the beginning of the race was just due to the rain. The track was so green and the tires were just wearing in, and a lot of guys probably were over-cambered in the right front, and so I think we were getting a lot of tire wear because of that.

Fortunately we were pretty conservative on that, and as the track came in I think it played into our favor.

As far as Burton getting out of line, I'll let Kevin answer that. I mean, you get a momentum run and I guess you try to seize the opportunity.

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I mean, it's hard to tell. I'm sure he had such a run that he had to get out of line and had to go somewhere because sometimes you're going so fast that you don't want to hit the guy in front of you because you're scared that you're going knock the nose off your car or the back bumper off his car, and I think that's ultimately what happened; somebody hit him in the back and actually spun him sideways.

In the end, Jeff is the ultimate team player, and he's not going to be the guy that breaks up anything from an RCR standpoint. I'm sure he just had a huge run. But unfortunately I think it got tore up a little bit, but fortunately he kept going, so it all worked out for him.

THE MODERATOR: We're also now joined here tonight by tonight's winning owner, Richard Childress. Obviously a lot of good RCR cars running on the track tonight. Your thoughts on how everything unfolded?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: I'm just proud of everybody at RCR for all the hard work they did to get these cars going. ECR engines were running great and just proud of them. Proud of Kevin. Kevin is becoming one of these guys that wins the restrictor plate races. He's kind of like Dale, Sr.; you knew he was going to be a factor in it. To have all three RCR cars up there leading the race, racing with each other, it was really cool to watch.

Q: For all three of you or anyone that wants to take it, as consistent as you guys have been all year, how big a deal is it to get another win with Jimmie winning the last two in a row? How big is it to get another win and stay patient with bonus points?

KEVIN HARVICK: That's all we have talked about for the last two or three weeks, what do we have to do to win more races before the Chase starts. We had this conversation Friday night. We had this conversation Wednesday afternoon at the shop. It's just something that for the 29 team it's just something that we've talked about for two or three weeks, and to be able to come out and capitalize on it tonight is what we have to do.

Q: For Kevin or Gil, you guys talked about the points lead. With just a few races left before you get to the Chase, how comfortable can you be in rolling the dice to try to pick up some more wins, balancing that with trying to keep your momentum and keep the cars running week in and week out as good as they have been?

GIL MARTIN: Well, obviously we're in a fortunate position to be where we are right now in the points lead. And as far as rolling the dice, we're going to try to do that as much as possible because we need to get to victory lane as much as we can because basically that's what Richard pays us to do. So we've got to get there. But at the same token we've got to get there smart and make sure that we're not only consistent but we have some speed, but luckily we're going to be able to take some chances possibly that we haven't been able to take in the past. Like Kevin said, we're going to be in a situation where we're going to have a fleet of cars that's ready to go to the Chase, not one that we're just barely able to get there. That's what we're looking forward to more than anything.

Q: For Kevin, this goes back to what you were talking about, about the change-around. How important is it to be in a situation in this race where you have teammates that are running with you up front? I think Jeff Gordon showed that you can have a fast car, but without anybody else there, a teammate, he wasn't able to stay out there very long.

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I really felt over those last 20 laps I didn't think they could beat us nose to tail with myself and the 33, and I really thought, like I said, coming to the white, I really thought that was how we were going to finish.

But we worked really well together tonight. Everybody is getting along really well. I know we all have our moments where we get mad at each other, but I think we were all on the same page tonight and really working well together, and I think it showed up on the racetrack with the results that were about to happen coming to the white flag, and we were fortunate to get into the victory lane. But all the cars ran really well tonight, and from a team standpoint that's all you can really ask for.

Q: Two-parter first for you, Kevin. How much in this whole turnaround, in the performance and winning and being back on top, how much did getting all that contract junk out of the way play into that? And for any of you guys, it almost seems like this track, this is the last race on this old pavement, and we're all talking about the new pavement. It's almost like this is some kind of mystical thing thumbing its nose at you as wild as this thing was tonight, the last race on this pavement.

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I think as far as the contract stuff, that stuff all started the end of last year and really took off at the beginning of the year before we even got started. I felt like -- I'm sure Richard feels the same way. I felt like we handled it amongst ourselves and there was really a lot of progress as we moved month to month. It just took time to get it all done.

I really think as we went into the year, everybody was headed in the same direction and knew what we wanted to do. But it just took time, and it really -- other than answering the questions, it really didn't affect us internally. Gil does a great job with the guys in the shop and making sure that they are motivated, and nobody -- we never talked about it from a team standpoint. Nobody ever said a word.

As far as thumbing the nose, I think this racetrack is obviously the most historic racetrack that we race on, and I think if that asphalt could talk, you can go back and look at all the stories. But it's just such a neat deal to be able to win the last race on that particular asphalt. It's going to be a lot different race when we come back.

Any time you can win, though, whether it's new asphalt or old asphalt, it's always going to be the baddest place to win, and that's Daytona.

Q: For Kevin and also Gil, if you might want to chime in, you talk about you've had these conversations about what it takes to win. And I'm just wondering how in this situation that you're in, how much -- how challenging is that? I'm sure it's one thing to say, okay, we want to win, but how do you go about doing that? And how is that thinking process different than, say, last year when winning wasn't the concern, it was just trying to be competitive? How do you try to force yourself or think of new things and be willing to take risks or things like that?

GIL MARTIN: Well, I think one of the biggest ways that we've been challenged is two years ago we were in the Chase, had all three cars in, and we were third, fourth, fifth, or wherever we were at. And I think we were trying to hit a home run to win the championship. And I think that we've learned from that mistake, that we've got to keep chiseling away every week. You get a little bit every week with these cars because the guys that you're racing against, you're racing against the best guys in the world, obviously. To race with the 48 every week and to get to the level to where they've been, they're not looking for home runs every week, they're looking to refine their product every week, and I think that's what we've done a really good job throughout the whole company this year is we've taken a product, refined it, and by the time we get to the Chase, hopefully it will be.

Last year we might have a car that we'd have to run two or three races, go home, turn it around and work really hard on that to now we've got Richard's afforded us to have a fleet of cars that we've got probably seven or eight downforce cars right now. He probably doesn't want to hear me say we've got that many, but we've got that many cars that are capable of winning races every week to know if we have a problem on Friday or Saturday, the one in the truck is just as good if not better than the one we unloaded on Friday.

Q: How does that change what you can do or don't do on the track?

KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think from the confidence level, the way you race now is you race knowing that you have a chance to win with your equipment every week. Obviously last year we were in a little bit of a slump and really trying to figure out the direction that we needed to go to to make the cars better. But we've all won. We all know how to win. It's just a matter of getting the stuff right, putting it on the racetrack so it's competitive enough to be in contention to win, and that's what we've done this year.

The mindset is so different. It's not even comparable, just because you know that every time you go on the racetrack you have a shot.

Q: Primarily for Richard, you just made the comparison about Kevin reminding you of Dale, Sr., and how he's been racing at Daytona, and of course you won last night with Dale, Jr., in the 3 car. What does a weekend like this mean to you as an owner, not just from your future with Kevin and what happened with Dale, Jr., but looking back on the history of this track that you had with Dale, Sr.?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, Daytona is really special, and like Kevin said, any time you win at Daytona it's really special. Fortunate to have won a lot of races with Dale here, won one 500 with him in '98, come back and win with Kevin in 2007. You know, it was real special.

And last night was a special deal put together through JR Motorsports and Kelly, and my involvements with being with the 3 and being in there and going and meeting with them and talking and putting that deal together was special. And to see him win the race was real special to see the 3 on the board. It brought back a lot of memories, not only to me but to all the race fans. Had all kind of texts and messages and everything from people how proud they were to see it back out there racing.

Comparing Kevin, you just watch how he runs these speedway races, he has that knack of knowing how to run on these speedway races.

KEVIN HARVICK: The coolest part last night was the reaction from Tony, Jr., on the pit box. I don't know if you've seen it, but that was the best part for me.

RICHARD CHILDRESS: It was an emotional deal for a lot of people. I know a lot of people called in and texted and stuff about how emotional it was.

Q: For Richard, after the last crash you had said something on the radio that you were wondering if the white flag had come out before the caution. Did you think at some point that Clint had won that race?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: No, I just said, why didn't it come out is what I said, was why didn't the white come out at the end. NASCAR made the call that they made, and it ended up one of the RCR cars won the race.

KEVIN HARVICK: It was out. I could see the white flag, we just never got to it.

RICHARD CHILDRESS: That's what it was, it was just one of those deals. I feel bad for Clint and all these guys, but at the end of the day, can't but one of those guys win, and here we are tonight. I'm just glad the way all three of them ran that we were able to come out of there with a win.

Q: Richard, just on that with Clint, is there anything that you can say? To fall from 1st to 17th, he's still in a tight battle to get into the Chase. There was a lot of points lost tonight. Whether that affects him come September or not we'll find out. But is there much you can say or have you had a chance to say anything to Clint?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: No, I haven't. I haven't talked to him. I'll talk to him later, probably wait until tomorrow, let things kind of cool off a little bit.

I don't know if the 24 got into his tire back there or what happened, but I know he was not happy with the 24 at that point.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations, and thank you for your time.

-source: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson
Teams JR Motorsports