KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed why he likes Martinsville, Paul Menard’s early season success, playing practical jokes and more.
HOW HAS YOUR WEEK BEEN? “My week has been good. I went on vacation. I guess I’m making up for all the ground that I didn’t cover this week. It’s been a great week. Everybody’s excited about everything that happened last week. And really we’ve had great cars performance wise all year. Just kind of been some mistakes here and there. Accidents and little things happen but the guys have done a great job in overcoming everything and we just keep plugging along.”
ARE YOU ONE OF THESE DRIVERS THAT THINKS JIMMIE AND DENNY HAVE THIS PLACE LOCKED UP? “I think it’s a lot like California last week. In the first race we led a majority of the first 100 laps and then had a brake failure there and in the second race led a bunch of laps. Just got to knock that wall down and I think once we finally knock it over we’ll be in good shape as far as getting a win. Obviously those guys have had success here. I feel confident that our cars are going to run well. You never know I shouldn’t say that, I mean I feel confident based upon what we did last year. We can show up this year and not even be in the game. But based upon last year, our cars ran well and I feel good going into the weekend. As to where it goes we’ll find out in practice. I feel good about where we are at.”
EVERY DRIVER HAS TO HAVE A FAVORITE RACE TRACK, WHERE DOES MARTINSVILLE RANK FOR YOU AND WHY? “Well for us this is kind of a home game as far as where KHI (Kevin Harvick, Inc.) and RCR (Richard Childress Racing) are and where a lot of our employees live. We’re having our East Coast fan club gathering here this weekend at this particular track. This has been a fun race track for us. I think this is something that we all look forward to during the year just for the fact that we all grew up on race tracks like this and to kind of go back to your roots and be able to kind of beat and bang is something we don’t get to do every week so it’s a fun race track to come to and being so close to home for us it’s the only race that we can drive back and forth to and sleep in your own bed at night so that makes it pretty high on the list.”
HOW DOES MARTINSVILLE RANK AS FAR AS HOW DIFFICULT IT IS FOR A DRIVER TO LEARN WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN HERE? “It’s hard just for the fact that it’s very inviting to over drive the corners and if you over drive the corners then you can’t roll through the center and you can’t get up off the corner correct so it’s hard to understand exactly what you need in your car and it takes a long time to really figure that out. Some guys figure that out and some guys don’t. These cars are just so heavy and they have so much power that it’s just a unique setup that you have to put under the car and a unique balance to be able to have the forward
HOW MUCH SLOWER ARE YOU GOING WHEN YOU REACH THE BACKSTRETCH COMPARED TO WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH IN THE TURNS? “It’s a lot slower. I don’t know. I couldn’t even tell you what the difference is. It feels like you need to downshift.”
HOW SURPRISED ARE YOU THAT PAUL MENARD IS THE POINTS LEADER FOR RCR RIGHT NOW AND GIVEN THE CRITICISM HE’S FACED OVER THE YEARS, IS HE BEGINNING TO EARN A LITTLE BIT OF RESPECT WITH THIS START? “Those guys have done a great job. Any time you bring in somebody from a different organization with new ideas and new crew chief and things, I think it has helped our organization to kind of think outside of the box of what we’ve done. I’m happy for him just for the fact that he’s got off to a good start. When your name is Paul Menard and your sponsor is Menards, you’re going to take some heat. To back that up it kind of silences the critics and the nay sayers that say you are just out there having fun. He’s here to race. He wants to win. He’s very competitive and I think he’s been a good fit for our organization with his team, with Slugger and himself. I couldn’t be happier for the fact that he’s gone out and run good and now he can just concentrate on driving the car and doing the things that he needs to do on the race track instead of having to worry about, not that it bothered him, what everybody else is saying. There’s a lot of pressure with the situation that he came into.”
IT’S APRIL’S FOOLS DAY, WHAT IS THE BEST PRANK THAT YOU HAVE PLAYED AND IS IT YET TO COME? “I’m slacking today. I’m looking to come up with something for the day and on who it is, I don’t know. Surely by the end of the day I will be able to think of something. Still the best thing that we’ve ever done was, we’ve done a few good things, I don’t know, there’s a lot of things that we’ve done. I don’t remember exactly what day it was on but we’ve crushed people’s cars, we’ve filled their cars up with bouncy balls, we’ve put crap in their office, we’ve done all kinds of things. Just never know what’s coming.
We all grew up on race tracks like this and to kind of go back to your roots and be able to kind of beat and bang is something we don’t get to do every week...
“We crushed DeLana’s Aunt’s car with a Monster Truck one day while they were at lunch. When she came back around the corner we had a monster truck in the field and we crushed her car. That was pretty fun.”
SHE LOVED THAT CAR RIGHT? “Oh yeah. It was like a 1988 Bonneville. She would have never gotten rid of it. But we cleaned it out for her. We made her cry but that’s all right.”
DID YOU GIVE HER A NEW ONE? “We did give her a new car. We didn’t tell her that for a while though. No, I didn’t have no mercy that was the whole point of it. I didn’t really think she was going to cry.”
HOW OLD WAS THIS POOR WOMAN? “Mid 60’s, early 60’s. That was probably six or seven years ago though.”
WHAT KIND OF CAR DID YOU GET HER? “We bought her a new Impala.”
ON QUALIFYING BEING MOVED TO SATURDAY: “I’m all about what’s best for the show. If it’s best for the show for us to have qualifying on Saturday, that’s what we need to do to give the fans more bang for their buck with their ticket on Saturday. For us as a race team, I like it just for the fact that you gotta work on your car all day Friday, you can sit over night and really think about what’s going on. It kind of throws you out of a rhythm but I’m going to qualifying the truck first tomorrow so I guess if everybody is worried about getting in the rhythm they can run the truck race. It would be great for the fans, they would love it. Jeff Gordon in a truck, that would be awesome.”
IS IT REASONABLE TO THINK THAT THE SAME GUYS THAT WERE FAST IN DAYTONA SHOULD BE AT THE HEAD OF THE FIELD IN TALLADEGA AS WELL? “It’s a crap shoot. It really is. You look at the way the Daytona 500 finished. Anybody can win. You gotta be around at the end to do that though so you gotta take care of your car all day. Obviously Talladega there is a lot more room to move around and do the things that you need to do with the bump drafting and the things that go with that. Obviously anybody can win the race and it’s just one of those things where you have to go out and take care of your stuff for a while.”
THERE WAS A TIME WHEN KEVIN HARVICK WOULD BE ASSOCIATED WITH LACK OF PATIENCE AT A TRACK LIKE THIS, YOU MIGHT LOSE YOUR TEMPER, DO YOU THINK YOU’VE CHANGED A LOT SINCE THOSE EARLY DAYS AND HOW SO? “Well if you could have seen me drive last night you would have seen that lack of patience. Looked like a bull in a china closet. I think as you go through time you learn how things work and you learn how to do things right. I still lose my mind every once in a while. I lost my mind in the fall race here in the truck race and started running over everybody in sight. When you get in a situation like you are on Sunday and you know that it’s a week after week thing and it’s the big prize that you’re after you have a tendency to be able to keep your head on your shoulders a little bit longer. When there’s nothing at stake I seem to lose my mind a little bit easier.”
HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL GETTING INTO THOSE GUYS HEADS A LITTLE BIT SAYING I’M HERE TO WIN AND I’M GOING TO DO WHAT I’VE GOT TO DO? “Well I don’t know if got into anybody’s heads but we did what we needed to do as a race team. I felt like we did a good job all day on the race track and off the race track. That’s really what it’s all about. It’s all about winning races and it’s all about being around at the end of the year to have a chance to win a championship. For us last year was a good year for us to understand that we can race for the championship. Our team is championship material and we’ve proved that week in and week out. Last year and this year we know it. We can overcome a lot of things and hopefully keep putting race cars on the race track and hopefully we can be around at the end of the year to race for the championship again. So last week was just another step in order to get to that goal.”
PERSONALLY DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE BETTER OR AS GOOD A RACE TEAM THIS YEAR THAN YOU WERE LAST YEAR AND WHY? “At this particular point in the season we are definitely better than what we were last year for a lot of reasons. I think every day that our team spends together you learn a little something else about somebody else. We’ve fixed our pit crew and they’ve done a great job week in and week out on pit road. As a driver and a crew chief you don’t worry about coming to pit road and losing spots, you worry about what you’re going to do to your race car. You don’t even think about pit stops any more. There are so many things that are so much better than they were one year ago at this time. It would be hard to sit here and tell them all to you in a short amount of time. So I feel a lot better and the good thing about it is it’s a lot of the same people that we keep building on.”
we are definitely better than what we were last year for a lot of reasons.
DOES THAT MAKE THE MISTAKES ETC KIND OF BURN YOU A LITTLE BIT MORE? “No, I think when you look at it; obviously the engine failure was the first one that we had in 156 races I think the number was for our car. When you look at the mistakes, I wouldn’t really call them mistakes. I would just call them circumstances and they come in and they just fix whatever is wrong and you go back out and you dig yourself out of the hole and nobody gets wound up and those are the things that a year and a half ago just wouldn’t happen. Everybody stays calm and everybody knows what they need to do and you just fix it and you move on. The circumstances haven’t been great up until last week but we’ve got some okay finishes out of them and that’s what you have to do.”
WHAT HAPPENED AT YOUR GO KART RACE AT YOUR HOUSE LAST NIGHT? “It was rainy and we had too many go karts on the track and it turned into all but a destruction derby. But it was fun. A little wet so everybody was going slow so you couldn’t really hurt anybody. A few minor bruises here and there.”
WHO WON? “Rick Carelli’s son.”
IF YOU WEREN’T IN THE TRUCK RACE AND JUST HAD TO SHOW UP HERE FOR TWO LAPS ON A SATURDAY, WOULD YOU FEEL THE SAME ABOUT IT? “I don’t really have a good answer for you on that other than if that’s what we need to do to make the Saturday ticket better that’s what we need to do. I think when you cut back the amount of tires; we cut back a set of tires at a lot of the places to try to help the teams save money. So there are a lot of things that go into that decision that is made.”
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE JEFF GORDON/JEFF BURTON INCIDENT AT TEXAS LAST YEAR SINCE WE ARE GOING THERE SOON? “I think it’s great because those guys always kind of laugh. I know Burton always kind of laughed at me and even Gordon. He would always kind of give me the shot in the ribs saying that was pretty fun to watch yesterday. To see those guys have to answer those questions at driver intros and things like that is fun because they really don’t know what to say other than it happens sometimes. So that part makes me laugh still to this day when I think back about the moment just with those two guys, especially with Burton so that’s fun.”