NASCAR teleconference October 21, 2008 An Interview With: KEVIN HARVICK JOSH HAMILTON: Good afternoon, everybody and we will could come today's NASCAR CAM VIDEO teleconference in advance of Sunday's event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Pep...
October 21, 2008
An Interview With:
JOSH HAMILTON: Good afternoon, everybody and we will could come today's NASCAR CAM VIDEO teleconference in advance of Sunday's event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Pep Boys Auto 500, race No. 7 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Today we are joined by Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Kevin is at Richard Childress Racing headquarters in Welcome, North Carolina.
We welcome Kevin Harvick. Kevin comes into Atlanta sixth in the series standings. Kevin, is it safe to say that Atlanta is a special place for you to return to as you got that first memorable NASCAR Sprint Cup win there back in 2001?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, it's definitely a cool place to go back to just for the fact that your first win is something that you only do one time. Obviously every time we go back there, that's what a lot of people want to talk about, and we are excited that we ran good in the first race there this year, so we are looking forward to going back this week.
Q: Had a question for you about Shane Wilson, since he's been named crew chief for Clint next year and you worked with him during the 2006 Nationwide championship season, how do you think those two will fit together?
KEVIN HARVICK: I actually did not know he had been named the crew chief, so I guess I'm a little bit out of the loop. Obviously Shane has done a great job with everything that's gone on in the Nationwide Series. We had a lot of success over the couple of years that I ran the car and won a lot of races.
I think he and Clint are going to have some success together, and I'm really excited for Shane just for the fact that he's had so much success at RCR and been able to accomplish so many things that he definitely deserves the opportunity on that car.
Q: Do you think NASCAR should change up the tracks from year-to-year just to make things a little interesting?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, you know, obviously I think it's tough to build a consistency in knowing where you're going and what you're doing and put the schedule together so many months in advance. That would be probably something that's pretty hard to do and probably take a couple years in advance to make those things happen.
Obviously I think the schedule is mixed up a little bit next year, not a whole lot, but you know, it's hard to tell what the right mixture of what racetracks are in the Chase, but they have Talladega and leading up to the race you have the Bristol and Richmond races that obviously have a lot of excitement.
You know right now, I think our Chase format is really good for our sport and leads up to the 26th race and has a lot of excitement over the 13th, 14th, 12th, 11th place guys that, you know, sometimes we don't get the exposure if we're not racing for a championship and we're not up in the points. I think it's created a lot of excitement in races in the past that have not had that.
Q: Have you heard anything about the tire this weekend since I guess the racing was awkward in the spring race; do you expect it to be better this weekend?
KEVIN HARVICK: I don't know about the tire to be honest with you. Obviously I'm not a Goodyear engineer, so I didn't build the tire, and obviously the race at the beginning of the year was tough to drive. But that's what we get paid to do. So it all depends on what you're looking for when you're watching the race I guess.
Q: In 2006, you won 14 races between Cup and Nationwide but did not win the title, and I guess somewhat overshadowed what you really accomplished that year. Do you think Kyle Busch is going through the same thing this year because he's not going to win the Cup title this year; that the 20 wins he had will be overshadowed?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think obviously he's had a really good year. The way that our sport works is if you're not hot at the right time, you don't come out on top and win the championship. It's all about being consistent through the whole year, no matter whether it's the old-style points or the new-style points, with the year he had, he would not be on top.
When you have a year like that, obviously you want to finish it off with a championship and we were fortunate to finish our year off with a Nationwide championship, and I think we finished third or fourth in the Cup points.
It's obviously going to be tough for him to have won that many races and not win the championship, but that's just how tough our sport is.
Q: Looking back at 2005, Carl Edwards burst on scene by winning the Atlanta race and following up in Texas to get into Chase contention; what do you remember about him as a driver and person there, and what do you think of him now?
KEVIN HARVICK: I don't remember much, so I guess I'm the wrong person to ask that question.
Q: I would like to ask you about Shane Wilson, because Richard Childress Racing named him today as Clint Bowyer's crew chief for '09, and you have experience with him; did you talk a little bit about that?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I guess have I would liked to have been in that RCR loop with the naming of Shane Wilson as the crew chief, but I guess I was a little bit out of the loop here.
Obviously Shane has earned that right to get that opportunity with the 33 car and I'm excited for him as a person, and he's a good friend of mine and I think obviously with Clint's situation, I think Shane will be a good fit. It's great to see people get promoted within the company and get the opportunity to do that.
Q: Are you saying you didn't know about that until now?
KEVIN HARVICK: That's what I'm saying.
Q: Wow, okay. Well, what did you like about him so much? What can you tell us about him as a crew chief?
KEVIN HARVICK: Shane is just a really, really organized person. He's really good with his people and understands what it takes to keep his people headed in the right direction, and that's the majority of the battle of what we do on a week-to-week basis is keeping our people happy and keeping them understanding what you want to do next to accomplish on that side of it.
So he's really good with that and always has done a really good job on the Nationwide side of it. I think he'll do a good job in the Cup Series.
Q: You've done so much for the feeder series and Craftsman Truck Series and Nationwide, can you talk about the health of the Craftsman Truck Series particularly with both Ford and Dodge pulling back their financial support?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think as I look at the entry list for the races this weekend, and obviously the Truck race is pretty solid. And you look at the Nationwide Series, I think there's 50 cars in it for the Memphis race. Obviously this is a tough time in our economy and sponsors are waiting a little bit longer than what they had before to place their sponsorship than in the past.
So everybody is just kind of wait and see on who the president is going to be and where the economy is going to turn. I really feel confident in the fact that we have been through this before with the manufacturers supporting the Truck Series.
The Nationwide Series has really never had any manufacturer support other than technical support. So it's going to be more like it was before Toyota came into the Truck Series and kind of be back to the same formula as far as sponsorship dollars that you need to make your Truck team function.
Q: Do you feel like you've gotten a strong return on investment?
KEVIN HARVICK: I don't really look for investment to be honest with you. I race because I like to race in the Truck Series, and you know, the main reason that we race the trucks is to win races and make sure that on the day, had something to do; that was the biggest reason that we stayed in it in the past. I thoroughly enjoyed being in the Truck Series garage, and that's what I like to do in my spare time.
We don't necessarily look -- we don't look for investment at all on a return for the Truck Series.
Q: Some drivers and some professional stick-and-ball players think that butterflies are a good thing to get before race day or a big day. Do you agree with that, and do you still get butterflies, and is there a best way to handle them I guess?
KEVIN HARVICK: I don't necessarily know that there's ever butterflies anymore. But there's definitely that anticipation of what's going to happen that day and what you need to do with your car depending on how it was in practice and how you think the track is going to change for that particular race.
I would say the anticipation of what you need to do to your car and the things inside that you can relay back to the team are more on your mind than being nervous for sure.
Q: Yesterday Yarborough was on and we were talking about the drivers of the past without the benefits of power steering and stuff like that; do you think the drivers of the past had to be a little bit more athletic to handle those cars?
KEVIN HARVICK: I would definitely say the drivers of the past are not near as athletic as the drivers of today, for sure. Obviously the guys that raced in the past are just pretty much just brute, strong guys and that was just kind of the nature of the sport at the time.
So I would definitely say that today's drivers are more athletic than the drivers of old.
Q: I'm totally thrilled to see that you're putting Ryan Newman in a truck this weekend. I cannot personally wait to see him race in a truck. I talked with him today and he was so psyched. Can you talk a little about Ryan racing a truck?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, Ryan and myself and our wives are really good friends and we are really excited to have Ryan in there. We're excited to make the change. We're just excited as an organization to kind of have fun with the two trucks as we head towards the end of the year here.
Ryan was able to drive the truck, and so it will be fun to just kind of share that experience with your friends, and he gets his first experience with a truck and obviously taking him to Atlanta for the first time is probably the best place that we can take him with all of the success that he's been able to have with the poles and as well as he runs there.
It will be fun to watch and we are excited to give him his first start.
JOSH HAMILTON: Kevin, thanks a lot for your time today. We certainly appreciate you joining us and good luck on Sunday.