Harvick talks about not being team owner

Team Chevy Racing press release

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed racing in the Daytona 500, not being a team owner, changes to the team and other topics.

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

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

TALK ABOUT HOW YOUR TIME HERE AT DAYTONA HAS BEEN SO FAR: “I think it has been pretty calm. Obviously the results, we wish could be a little bit better. Our cars have been fast. Got caught up in an accident in the (Budweiser) Shootout, and just made a bad decision yesterday (in the Gatorade Duel race). Been able to run up in front of the races, do what we needed to do, and feel confident about the speed in our car. And, our (Daytona) 500 car is still in one piece. That was the main goal yesterday. All-in-all, everything has gone well. We’ll just keep the wheels, the engines, the fenders and everything on it for awhile on Sunday, and see where we wind up at the end. It should be a fun race.”

CAN YOU COMPARE THE EVOLUTION IN GENERAL THIS YEAR VERSUS THE PAST YEARS? “I always look at the weekend as a build up as well. My first year in Cup (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series), we didn’t race here. This is our biggest event, and I think as you look back through time it’s always been full of people and it’s always been our biggest race. That part of it really hasn’t changed. You drive in the tunnel and you still get that sensation, and that feeling of ‘this is the start of the season’. There is always more hype around this race than any other race. More sponsors; more people; more everything. It’s still the same deal. As you have been here for a couple of years, you try not to get too high on the highs, and too low on the lows. It is really all about Sunday. Everything else matters, but it’s still about the result you get out of Sunday. It is just about maintaining that even keel demeanor as you go through the weeks. Just let it all come to you, and learn. I’ve been here and been the fastest car off the truck, and the slowest car off the truck. By the time you get to Sunday you seem to have that same feeling when the green flag drops if you do it right.”

HAS THIS SPEEDWEEKS BEEN MUCH DIFFERENT SINCE IT IS YOUR FIRST EVENT NOT AS AN OWNER OF RACE TEAMS? IF SO, HOW? “I know I haven’t missed it. (GRINS) I know that for sure. For us, it is nice coming here and not having to deal with the first week of everything. Whether it is somebody not having a credential; somebody forgetting decals, or whatever the case may be. You don’t get any of those phone calls. You don’t have stuff running everywhere and worrying about all the things that come with the race team. You are able to just kind of focus on being in the car, and spending more time with my team. Talking about things we did on the race track during practice or the race. Being able to spend that extra time is something that I’ve enjoyed. It has been very calm. I think that will be good for me as the year goes on.”

HOW MUCH WILL THE PACE WE SAW IN THE DUEL RACES CHANGE AND AT WHAT POINT ON SUNDAY WILL EVERYBODY START TO BECOME MORE AGGRESSIVE? “We have settled in on our strategy. I think those will vary as you talk from team to team. There is nothing like coming to the green flag of the Daytona 500. The anticipation, all the qualifying races and the Shootout, the media, and all the things that lead to it. As a driver there is still nothing like the anticipation of when that National Anthem is over, and you get in the car and it’s kind of like ‘Finally, I can take a deep breath’. You buckle yourself in the car and you know that you are getting ready to take the green flag at the biggest race of the year. For me, there’s nothing more exciting during the whole year than that moment. Usually it seems like a lot of other people have that same feeling. The beginning of these Daytona 500s are pretty dicey. You just have to try to get yourself through that.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU SEE AS ELLIOTT SADLER’S STRENGTHS AS A DRIVER? “Elliott has a good attitude and he is great with the team. I think the biggest thing this year is that he has just got to win. That’s going to be the step that we felt like we’ve taken with those programs. We feel like the cars are better. Obviously there were a lot of factors that led up to the merging of the two teams, but one of the biggest things that has come out of it is the technology and the advancement of the vehicles that they are putting on the race track. He has a lot of good qualities that need to be mixed in with the winning. I think that will be expected, without a doubt, of that particular team this year. But, he can do it. He’s won before, and he’s been there before. The expectations are a little bit more demanding I would say at RCR, than what we (Kevin Harvick, Inc.) had.”

SUNDAY IS PREDICTED TO BE MUCH COOLER THAN IT IS GOING TO BE TODAY. WHAT CAN YOU TAKE AWAY FROM TODAY’S PRACTICE AND WHAT HAS BEEN THE VIEW OF YESTERDAY’S RACES REGARDING THE ENGINE TEMPERATURES? “Unless there is a rule change of some sort, I don’t believe we plan on practicing for that reason because it’s not comparing apples to apples. I think the qualifying race and the Shootout was the biggest tool that we have as to how the racing is going to go. The mistakes that I made on the race track; you try to think through all of those scenarios as you can for the 500. You won’t see those in practice, those scenarios that you can get in the race. With the temperatures being high today, knowing that the high (on Sunday) is going to be in the high 60s or low 70s, there is really no reason. With being the temperature being the biggest reason unless I walk into the garage and something has changed from Shane (Wilson, crew chief), that was our plan yesterday.”

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO WATCH THE TRUCK RACE TONIGHT? DO YOU INSTINCTIVELY LOOK FOR YOUR VEHICLES BECAUSE YOU HAVE DONE THAT SO LONG? “I’ve pretty much turned that page. I don’t even…I watched practice yesterday and didn’t even see the No. 33 or the No. 2 or any of those go by. I don’t even consider them mine anymore. I’m one of those people that once I am done with something, I’m done with it. You move on. You roll forward. I’ve had a couple of months to get over that. It is just a new page.”

IF THERE ARE NO CHANGES IN THE RULES, HOW WILL THAT CHANGE HOW YOU RACE ON SUNDAY AS FAR AS TRYING TO KEEP YOUR ENGINE TEMPS AND YOUR OIL TEMPS DOWN? “I think we’ll just have to go back and see exactly what the results were from yesterday’s race. I know what the water temperature was. I know what the ambient temperature was. We think we know what we want to do. It is just a matter of looking at all the final numbers of temperatures and things like that. Sitting with the engine guys and just see how hard they feel like they want to push it. We’ll just make a decision off of that.”

HOW HAS VICTORY IN THE DAYTONA 500 ELUDED SOME OF THE GREATEST DRIVERS IN THIS SPORT? “When you look at this race, everybody has the most optimum opportunity to prepare for it. I think as you go through the year, the strong teams that have the depth, and can climb themselves out of a hole as they wreck some cars; at this particular race, everybody has an opportunity to prepare for it. You have a lot of cars that don’t run as good, but run well. For whatever reason, this particular race; and I think it is just the anticipation leading up to it and the emotions that everybody runs through that just creates a lot of things happening that don’t happen at normal races because it’s not a normal race. The Daytona 500 is our biggest race. You see a lot of strange things happen, and the race is much like the week. You can get excited. You can get caught up in somebody else’s mess. You can cause a mess. Those high emotions tend to make things happen. I think being here for awhile, you have to learn to keep those emotions as low as possible until the end, so you can keep yourself around and be there when it counts. It seems like when they drop the green flag, we all think it counts right off the bat, and it just causes some crazy situations.”

YOU HAVE FINISHED THIRD IN POINTS THE LAST TWO SEASONS. HOW DO YOU TAKE THAT NEXT STEP UP? “I could sit here and tell you what we haven’t changed. That would be a lot faster than to tell you what we have changed. We’ve looked through and tried to analyze everything from race teams to personal lives. I know the baby has set a lot of things in motion. But, it really set a lot of things in motion that had started the analyzing of everything from home to the race teams. With moving the race teams over to Richard’s (Childress), it built depth into RCR from Nationwide to Truck to Cup. We can train a lot of those people that we hadn’t been training for pit crews, and mechanics, and crew chiefs, and all the things that come on those particular teams that you can take to Cup. I think moving from four to three (RCR teams in the Cup Series); it allowed us to take the best group of people and put them on each car. Because, in the end, the main thing and the main focus as a company that we’ve looked at is – how can we make all of the race teams better? That is what it is going to take to make the No. 29 better; the No. 31 and the No. 27 individually. So, if we can make those teams stronger as a company, and make our company evolve faster, and not always be on the catch-up. If we can get out and lead the charge on a lot of little things…so, we’ve analyzed everything from top to bottom trying to make it better. We feel like there is always going to be a constant evaluation of where things are at. You never know what the year will bring for tires, or rules, or how the performance of the cars will be. We feel like we have aligned everything better than it was last year. I feel like I have more time to spend in the shop. Focusing on the cars at the track, and taking away all the outside race team stuff. It has been touched and pushed around, and tried to make it better. That is how we’re going to take that last step I hope. It might work. It might not.”

BEGINNING MONDAY AFTER THE DAYTONA 500, THE SERIES KICKS INTO FULL SWING. HOW DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE BEST PREPARED FOR PHOENIX, LAS VEGAS, BRISTOL WITH SO MUCH ATTENTION PLACED ON THE DAYTONA 500? “I feel like we are just as prepared for Phoenix and Las Vegas as we are for this race. We’ve spent a lot of time talking through, testing and working on our downforce stuff to try to evolve that knowing that the majority of the races are in those cars. This race kind of sits by itself. You come down here with a number of cars. This project starts well before the season ends, let alone over the winter. I feel like we’re prepared. We’ve got our cars laid out for the first four weeks and are ready to go.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Eric Gilbert
Teams Richard Childress Racing
Tags chevrolet, daytona 500, harvick, richard childress racing