NOTE: Richard Childress Racing (RCR) announced today the renewal of its relationships with GM Goodwrench of General Motors Service Parts Organization (GMSPO), and 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series rookie of the year Kevin Harvick. Both extensions...
NOTE: Richard Childress Racing (RCR) announced today the renewal of its relationships with GM Goodwrench of General Motors Service Parts Organization (GMSPO), and 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series rookie of the year Kevin Harvick. Both extensions run through the 2006 season.
RICHARD CHILDRESS , TEAM OWNER, RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING:
OPENING REMARKS: "We're just really excited and honored, especially in the times that we're all in today to have a sponsor like GM Goodwrench to step up and commit for three more years. It gives us the opportunity for Kevin and I to build on our relationship - all the team. It just gives you security to build on everything. We're really proud of it.
"As far as signing Kevin Harvick, everybody always says me and him don't get along and all. But, we've got a lot of great respect for each other and the number one thing is, neither one of us like to lose. As long as you've got that pair and a great company behind us like GM Goodwrench, we're going to make it to New York (to the awards ceremony)."
KEVIN HARVICK , NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
OPENING REMARKS: "Richard and I actually get along great and our sponsor is not going anywhere and our team is not going anywhere - I've heard a lot of that lately. It's good to just put an end to all of it. We can really concentrate on what we need to concentrate on. We're excited. I'm excited. We've had a great weekend so far here and we're looking forward to the rest of the year and the future to build on what we've got.
"I feel like I've tried to step up and take as much responsibility as they want to throw at me in things that I need to do. I'm excited about the partnership and really excited that GM Goodwrench is with us and behind Richard. They've been with him for a long time and I'm just glad to help take the tradition on."
RICK LABELLE , GENERAL SALES MANAGER, GM PARTS:
OPENING REMARKS: "It's really an honor for us at GM Service Parts Operations, and specifically GM Goodwrench, to continue this sponsorship - the longest primary sponsorship in NASCAR history. I was telling Richard this morning, back in '88 when we first started this relationship I was there in Rockingham when we made the announcement. It was terrific beginning to a long-term relationship that just keeps getting stronger and stronger. No team in NASCAR likes to win and knows how to win as well as Richard Childress Racing and now we've got a passionate driver like Kevin behind the wheel for a number of years. Kevin is terrific with our dealers, terrific with our employees and we couldn't be prouder to continue this relationship for three more years."
Q: DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WERE A TARGET OF OTHER TEAMS LOOKING FOR A DRIVER AS LONG AS YOU WERE WITHOUT A LONG-TERM CONTRACT?
HARVICK: "I think you're a target anytime somebody knows that you don't have something for the long-term. But, we had talked about this six months and pretty much had come to the agreement and left it up to Richard's people and my people to make it all read correct on a piece of paper. But, as far as that, we had come to that agreement and understood where we had wanted to go. He has been very committed to me. Sometimes, I wasn't probably as committed as I needed to be. I think we went down to the river one day and had a little talk and that was pretty much the end of that.
"If you look at our sport, the people that are really successful are the people that stay together for a long time. That's what we've tried to establish with our race team, with Gil [Martin] and all the guys on the team. That's the only way that I see us becoming a championship-winning team is to have the same people in place. My mind was at ease, but I think it will put the people around us (at ease) - Gil and all the guys on the team. There won't be any questions in the media. There won't be any questions anywhere. All the questions are answered, so we can concentrate on winning races."
CHILDRESS: "I think Kevin hit on it. Long-term, the stability of a race team - it doesn't matter where it's at - that's what wins championships. That's what we have here. As far as somebody looking at him, every owner out there should be looking at him and they do. He's a talented driver and he can get the job done. I'd say, even with this, people will still look at you. That's the way racing is."
Q: HOW BIG OF A RELIEF IS THIS FOR YOU?
HARVICK: "I never had any intentions of really going anywhere else. Like I say, we had our one little chat and that's really the only time we've ever sat down and had a have a heart-to-heart. Over the past year, ever since Martinsville, I think myself and Richard have become closer and I understand a lot more of what he wants out of me and what it takes to try to be successful. Those are the things that I had to step up and do, and I think he made me realize some of those things. From that point on, I think it has been a strong relationship.
"Then, the next question will be, 'Well, you guys have been up and down and up and down?' Well, this stuff doesn't just happen over night. Once it all clicks, I think it's going to be right back to how it was. It took them years to get to that point with Dale (Earnhardt), understanding exactly what he wanted, exactly what he needed. That's what we're shooting for here this time."
Q: ON RUNNING ADDITIONAL SERIES AND OTHER EVENTS
HARVICK: "We've had this conversation, too, and we've both come to the agreement that I'm better when I'm racing. That is what got me to this point. Last year we decided together to not race as much and I think that hurt us, and we both agree that that hurt us.
"It doesn't matter if it's souvenirs, it doesn't matter what it is - if it's the '29' or it's Kevin Harvick, it's got to be related to the '29' and vice versa. That's how we want it. That's the best way to do it. That is the only way to call it a team. We're going to put a capital 'T' on the front of our team and that's the way we've tried to do it.
"I'm better when I'm racing the Busch car and racing the truck. It just keeps my mind so focused on what I need in my race car. That's what we decided to do. Sure, the consequences can sideline you if something happens. But, you know what? I can go out and fall off my four-wheeler or walk across the street and have something happen. It's a part of life. That is an advantage that we feel like we have to capitalize off of in the Busch car and at the racetrack as a group."
Q: IN THESE ECONOMIC TIMES, HOW RELIEVED ARE YOU TO NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT SPONSORSHIP ON THIS CAR FOR THREE MORE YEARS?
CHILDRESS: "It's a great relief for a car owner and the whole race team and our organization. We built the organization of RCR from way back when when GM Goodwrench came on as a small sponsorship. In 1985, the amount of money that they brought put Dale and I where we were at another level of racing. That is what it's with our whole organization. They've been flagship for many years as far as the stability of our race team and giving us the backing and long-term commitment that they gave us for me myself to go out and build and buy and make plans. It's just great, especially in these economic times that we're all in."
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE SEASON AFTER THREE RACES?
CHILDRESS: "All of us have got to get used to these new body styles. I feel, watching [Kevin] and Gil work - I've tried to spend a little more time with Gil and help as much as I can - I think we've got a great shot of being there at the end of the year for the championship. In racing - and I've been in it for close to 40 years - I've seen years that you go up and down and in the middle, and everything can happen. It's how you control when you're having that bad day or that bad few races in a row. I think Kevin and Gil and myself, all of us can work together when we have a bad day. That don't end your season when you do."
Q: HOW DIFFICULT IS IT NOWADAYS TO STICK WITH A DRIVER IN THIS ERA OF RACING WHEN YOU HAVE A BAD SEASON?
CHILDRESS: "I've been in the business long enough to know that longevity and unity between a group of guys really helps. I think that is what we've got to work for. I think all the people on that race team realizes it. Goodwrench never once last year said, 'Hey, what's wrong?' I'd say we had a disappointing year last year. I wouldn't use (the phrase) 'a bad year.' We had a bad year in 2001. We had a disappointing year last year and we're going to have a good year this year."
Q: WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE NEW CARS THIS YEAR?
HARVICK: "It's definitely a better race car. The biggest thing we're challenged with right now is just understanding the balance of the race car. It's got plenty of downforce on both ends. We just have to figure out how to get it balanced to how I like to drive it or how Robby [Gordon] likes to drive it. That's the biggest thing we're fighting right now is just the balance on the race car, but it's definitely a better race car. You can drive the heck out of it. This being the third week as a downforce race, this was by far the best 'Happy Hour' and qualifying session that we've had. We've worked hard on fender shapes and grills and just all the little stuff on the front end, just to try and make the car have as much front downforce, but then you have to go to the back and work on the things that you need to there.
"Right now we're just looking for the balance. We had a car last week that was absolutely horrible at the beginning of the race, but we turned it into a 13th place finish. That is not exactly what we wanted, but like Richard was saying, on the weekends that you're not going to be capable of winning or capable of a top 10, those are the weekends that add up to the points of winning the championship.
"Like I say, this is by far the best weekend that we've had in 'Happy Hour.' It is the best the car has felt. It's the most laps that we've run. It's the most laps that we've run on a set of tires. All-around, I think the last two weeks on the downforce tracks we've really learned a lot. I think this week it's better yet, so 'so far, so good.'
Q: IS THERE ANY WAY TO COMPARE HOW YOU AND DALE FORMED YOUR RELATIONSHIP VERSUS HOW YOU AND KEVIN FORMED THIS RELATIONSHIP?
CHILDRESS: "I think that is a difficult question to answer. With Dale, back then it was different times. Everything was so much different than today. At that time, we had time to spend together and do a lot of things together. Today, Kevin's schedule is so awesome. He's got like 75 appearances. When he's not racing he's doing something for the race team, sponsors or something, where we don't get the chance to spend as much time together as we'd like. But, we both know our mission and we know our goals - what we've got to do. We both know what we've got to do to build on it."