Harvick and Kahne fastest Chevrolets in Daytona Duels

Kevin Harvick was the winner of the Daytona Duel #1 today. Kasey Kahne took second place in the Duel #2 at Daytona International Speedway.


Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

TWO FOR TWO SO FAR HERE DURING BUDWEISER SPEEDWEEKS AT DAYTONA THIS CAR, THIS RACE, THIS TYPE OF WEATHER CONDITIONS HOW MUCH DIFFERENT WAS THE HANDLING OF THIS RACE CAR TODAY? “The handling was definitely a lot looser for us than what we were the other night. It stayed consistent so it was manageable. I just want to thank everybody on our Budweiser Chevrolet team. To win the sponsors race in the Bud Duels here it’s hard to align all that and put it all together. It all worked out for us today. Gil (Martin, crew chief) made a great call on pit road and it all worked out.”

SO MANY TIMES THIS WEEK WE’VE BEEN HEARING THE WORD UNKNOWN FROM ALL OF YOU DRIVERS ABOUT HOW THIS GENERATION SIX RACE CAR IS GOING TO HANDLE IN THE DRAFT WITH LIMITED DRAFTING PRACTICE WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING? “You’ve just got to be precise in your moves if you get yourself in the wrong spot like we did at the beginning of the race in the middle you just can’t go anywhere. The only place you are going in backwards. It’s hard to get yourself into the hole that you need when you make a mistake. Usually you go back several car lengths you’ve just got to be precise about making the right moves.”

EARLIER IN THE RACE WE SAW YOU GUYS RUNNING THE OUTSIDE LANE WHEN IT WAS TIME TO COUNT THE LAPS HERE IN THE CLOSING STAGES THE BOTTOM SIDE. IS THERE A PREFERRED WAY TO ATTACK THIS TRACK? “When those guys were coming up through there we were kind of 10th or 12th in that pack. I saw them coming on the bottom and we were able to kind of break that top line up a little bit and get them spread out. Finally, a couple of holes to jump up into then the bottom would come back. We would get past a couple more there at the end especially after that pit stop I figured the bottom was going to be the place; since we didn’t have the biggest pack to make the least amount of time so that the pack behind us could make up the least amount of time. Luckily, it all played out our way. Hopefully, we can do it one more time.”

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST THING YOU LEARNED TODAY? "I think the biggest thing is the cars were definitely a little bit freer. My car was a little big free up off the corner, but man, the way the draft worked out, you really had to be precise on timing because if you weren't you'd get hung out. I want to thank all the race fans, Sprint, Budweiser, Jimmy John's, Chevrolet, Champion, Hunt Brothers, Bad Boys Buggies; everybody that helps this Chevrolet out, and all these guys on this RCR team."

ARE YOU GOING TO PUT KEELAN BACK IN THE CAR? YOU'VE HAD HIM IN THE CAR TWICE, AND TWICE YOU'VE WON: Hey, I don't know what that is, but man, we are just having a good time. Having DeLana and Keelan here just adds a great balance to my life. Just relaxing. Ready to race."


WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN TODAY’S RACE? “The top line seemed to be where you needed to be. I think there were a lot of guys who weren’t going to be content just riding in line. They kept trying to make a move, and it seemed like the more guys did it in the back half (of the field), the more guys started getting lined up together and working with each other, and I think we started to make a dent at it before pit stops.

“Pit crews are going to make a huge difference on Sunday. That’s going to be the difference between which pack you come out in. You’re going to have to have good stops to stay up there all day.”

HOW MUCH DO YOU BALANCE APPLYING WHAT YOU LEARNED TODAY DURING THESE NEXT COUPLE OF PRACTICE SESSIONS WITH SAVING YOUR RACE CAR FOR SUNDAY? “It’s just risk versus reward. Every time you go out there you’ll try to be selective about who you go with, and I think you’ll see what we’ve already seen to this point in practice. I don’t think you’ll see big packs. I think you’ll see a lot of smaller packs go out and run with each other versus one big group.”


WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN THIS RACE THAT YOU CAN APPLY ON SUNDAY IN THE DAYTONA 500? “I definitely learned that the outside is pretty good. But I think do I have to start on the inside on Sunday? I’m not really sure. Where does the pole start? The outside is looking pretty nice. So they definitely carried a lot of momentum. I was really tight to start the race off. We were really conservative with the set-up and we wanted to make sure the back was locked-down, but it was just way too tight; especially around (Turns) 3 and 4. So, we freed it up at the first stop. Speaking of the first stop, my tach was way off.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY “Yeah, it’s not an exciting mission when you’ve just got to bring it home. But, it is for the Daytona 500, so you’ve got to keep that in mind. I learned that the outside is strong and it carries a lot of good momentum. And then I learned that you need some friends. I also learned that you can’t be too tight because that outside is what’s good but you can’t be too tight, which mine was. It was way too tight at the start. But we wanted to be conservative. We didn’t want to have any issues with the GoDaddy car. We wanted to make sure we’ve got it on that front row for Sunday. Again, it’s not the most exciting way to race, but something was wrong with the tach. I didn’t know what speed I was doing, so I just went really slow. I tried to hit the right revs and I realized there’s no lights for those revs. So, I knew there was something wrong and then when I got out there on the track it showed I was going 10,000 rpm. I’m sure I’d love to have the kind of speed that comes with 10,000 rpm gives you, but it wasn’t right. So, it’s good to get those little bugs out of the way. We’ll fix them and be solid for Sunday.”

DO YOU FEEL YOU LEARNED SOME THINGS IN TERMS OF DRAFTING DURING THIS RACE? “I’ll be really honest. I didn’t feel like I got a lot of great experience on how to pass or the draft so much. I was able to hang with the group. I guess I did learn that being too tight is pretty detrimental here. If you can’t keep your foot in it and run up behind cars, then you’re going to struggle to make moves. It looks really hard to pass, to be honest.

“Jimmie (Johnson) was walking by the car and he said it was just tough to pass unless you’ve got a bunch of people behind you. So the outside got the momentum, but the inside is the shorter distance so they kind of end up being the same if not worse, on the bottom; so it might cause for some anxious drivers come Sunday.”

DID YOU MAKE SOME FRIENDS OUT THERE? “I don’t know. I hung around the back. I’m not really sure what I did or if I made friends. But, usually you make the kind of friends you want when you’re running up front and you’re pulling people along and they’re like, you’re fast and I want to go with you. But we were definitely a little too tight and being a little too conservative to put ourselves up there in the mix.

“I hate coming to the end like that and just lying back on those starts. That’s not fun. But it’s also really ignorant to drive up into the pack and be part of an accident for absolutely no reason. You’re really not going to learn much there. So, we just finished the race off and made another change and it kind of ended up being like a test session for us.”

DO YOU FEEL AS PREPARED AS YOU CAN BE GOING IN ON SUNDAY? “No. I think I wish I knew more. I wish I felt more situations. But again, let’s not overlook the fact that we’ve got Saturday practice.”

TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY: "I learned some. I think what I really need to do is go down to (Kevin) Harvick's bus tonight and figure out what he's got going on. Because he's got it figured out here this year. So, good job to him. The top line was the way to go. I lifted a little on the start because I got a bit of a jump, and I didn't want them to close so fast and then get freight- trained in a real scary way. I lifted a little on the start; I don't know if I should have or not. But the top was the way to go. Once I dropped back, we just hung there, and I was really tight. We tightened up yesterday, and we tightened it up even more for today. I feel like we kind of overshot there.

“But that's alright. It ended up being kind of like a test session. Then when we pitted with Tony with a bunch of others, something happened with my tach, and I wasn't getting the revs I needed to know what I was doing on pit lane. When I was running out there, I was doing about 10,000 rpm and I am pretty sure that's not right!"


SOLID DAY FOR YOU, WHAT DID YOU LEARN OUT THERE? WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE RACE? “It’s really tough to pass. When another car gets near your rear tire it’s like you threw the parachute out. Just a new vehicle, a new way to race we are trying to understand how to make our car better in those situations, just trying to learn really. Great run, a Chevy won, I think we were in position to win ourselves too so a very good day.”


TALK ABOUT THE RACE: “We will take a top-five in a qualifying race that is nice. It just boosts up the team and now they have a car they can polish on. We just need to keep pushing harder to find a bit more speed. It’s unique with the draft on how squirrely the cars can get. I’m happy that we had enough of a car that was underneath me to stay stable and to be able to draft, not on the aggressive side but to not have to play defense.”


WHAT DID YOU LEARN OUT THERE: "We've got to work on our handling. Our car was really really tight. At the first, we were on the splitter pretty bad; we worked on it yesterday and went a little too far. Got a little too aggressive with that. But put a packer in on that pit stop, and it was still real tight. I was having to lift in the center of three and four, just to get off the corner. I had to lift real big getting into one on the first lap where Juan (Pablo Montoya) got into the fence behind us. We hadn't been around any packs. I didn't anticipate really the balance being a big deal because the car does have a good downforce package; we thought the balance would be pretty close. Figured we would be fighting loose a little big. We have to work on it. We will; we'll fix it."

ANYTHING YOU LEARN GOING TO HELP YOU FOR THE 500? "We've got a good car. I was able to do some things. I did learn a few things about when those guys get up top. I found some ways to make gains; make passes one car at a time. If you get greedy and try to get a couple, you end up getting trained to the back. Learned a lot of things out there. Just how this car is working with this package that will help us on Sunday."

HOW INDICATIVE IS THAT OF WHAT WE'LL SEE ON SUNDAY? "I think it is exactly what you are going to see. You'll see a lot of racing. It'll be single file around the bottom some. It will be single file around the top some. Then all of a sudden everybody will start racing for no apparent reason. Then it'll go back to running single file for awhile. We don't really dictate that as driver. Not the field. The field really is at the mercy of the guys of front. If those guys up front chose to race a certain way, the filed sort of has to follow suit just to be able to maintain the draft. I think it will be a good race. It's a long race, you know. We can't run three-wide every lap as much as everybody would like to see that. I think its good racing."

CAN YOU WIN? "Anybody can win, but we've got a good piece. We've got a real good car. We get that balance right, and get the thing to turning good, we'll have a great shot."


GOOD SOLID EFFORT, YOU GUYS WERE PATIENT THEN WHEN IT WAS THE CLOSING LAPS OF THIS EVENT YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO TRY TO JUMP IN THERE AND GAIN SOME SPOTS. WHAT DID YOU LEARN DIVING OUT OF LINE LATE IN THE RACE? “I had a really good pusher Austin Dillon so that helped a lot. I wanted to do it with two (laps) to go, but we didn’t have a run at that point so we had to wait until one (lap) to go. I was able to get by the No. 20 and then get close to the No. 18, but Kyle (Busch) was strong. We would have needed more laps to try to work together to see if we could have passed him at any point. It was still a great run for our Farmers Insurance Chevrolet. Looking forward to the (Daytona) 500 we made some gains since Saturday nights Sprint Unlimited race, just feel like we are getting closer and closer. I’m excited about where we are at right now.”


YOU GOT 60 LAPS UNDER YOUR BELT IN A DRAFT FINALLY WHAT DID YOU LEARN OUT IN 60 LAPS? “Quite a bit, it was fun out there. I had some good people helping me with (Jeff) Burton and Kasey (Kahne). I wanted to get a Chevrolet in Victory Lane, but it was awesome to get in the race. When they told me we were in I was looking forward to just having that Sunday. It’s going to be awesome; I will always remember the first one.”

DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAD ENOUGH CAR TO PULL OUT SHOULD YOU HAVE NEEDED TO? “I could get some runs every now and then through the tri-oval. There at the end that is why I was kind of like ‘let’s go right now’ it happened and we got there pretty quick, but just not enough to get the No. 18.”

NOT A BAD JOB FOR A ROOKIE IN YOUR FIRST QUALIFYING DUEL. “Yeah, that’s awesome. After that first one, we still weren’t in it so we got a little nervous before that. So, we stayed in it all day and rode that top line. I ran behind Kasey (Kahne) the whole time. I was waiting for a Chevy to get into Victory Lane right there.

“I just couldn’t get enough of a run at Kyle (Busch). His car was really good. But I want to thank Honey Nut Cheerios for giving me this opportunity and this is an awesome feeling and I’ll always remember the first one.”

ON HIS EXPECTATIONS FOR DAYTONA “”Yeah, we’ve got a good hot rod. This thing is all about being there at the end; going into conservation mode early and then getting them at the end.”


HOW WAS IT? "It was great. Real happy with the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS. The car is fast; drove really good. Of course, I was out front the whole time, but there are two things that I take from this. This is why you want to qualify on the front row, because of a little incident like that (pit road speeding penalty). As well as, that is why we race this race. It's nice, because we need to learn that now on the tach, and on pit road to make sure that doesn't happen in the 500."

DID YOU HAVE A TACH GUAGE PROBLEM? "I think we just missed on...you want to maximize everything you have out there. Every opportunity. You don't want give up anything on pit road, and we were just a little bit too aggressive with our setting. I ran it spot on where it needs to be. They gave us the numbers, it was just a tiny bit over in three segments. It wasn't that we had a problem or anything like that, we just pushed it too hard."

IS IT DIFFICULT TO PASS THE LEADER? "I would have liked to have been up there with Kasey Kahne. You have got to have somebody go with you; you can't do it by yourself. But you can get a run, definitely. No doubt about it. I knew Kasey was just sitting there behind me just waiting for the right moment and opportunity late in this race. This is a real thinking race now. It comes down to the way it used to. You get yourself in position. Everybody kind of rides, and thinks about what they have. You have to have your car handling pretty good, which is tough to do further back in traffic. It looked like a few guys had a few small issues; nothing major. But it is hard to make it up through the field, and everybody is working together like that in that single file lane. That is the way it used to be. Long enough runs, especially when it's a little warmer and sun out, you are going to be able to make some moves. I was happy to see Kasey get up there at least to second. I think in the closing laps of a run, you start to see some moves happening."

WERE YOU ABLE TO LEARN SOMETHING OUT THERE THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW? "I was out front, but I learned we have a very fast race car, which is the best thing to learn. Car handled good. Drove good. But, we were out front. The only thing you kind of wish is that you got a little bit further back to see what to expect. But, I feel good. We had a great day. Brought the car, our Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS back in one piece. We're starting on the front row of Sunday's Daytona 500 with a very good race car."

Team Chevy Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Kasey Kahne , Eric Gilbert , Austin Dillon
Teams Richard Childress Racing
Article type Race report
Tags chevrolet, daytona, duel, gordon, harvick, johnson, kahne, montoya, patrick, stewart