Brickyard 400 Press Conference Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003 Part 1 of 2. Moderator: Joining us in the MCI press side conference room, winner of the 10th running of the Brickyard 400, Kevin Harvick, and winning car...
Brickyard 400 Press Conference
Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress
Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003
Part 1 of 2.
Moderator: Joining us in the MCI press side conference room, winner of the 10th running of the Brickyard 400, Kevin Harvick, and winning car owner, Richard Childress. Kevin, we'll start with you. Your comments on winning.
Kevin Harvick: Right now, it's like, "Whoa, what just happened?" We kept ourselves in contention all day. Our car started off really tight. We made just subtle adjustments every pit stop. They were all right. When I saw we were at the end of the race, our car was really good on the restarts and we could really make up some ground on new tires and we kind of would fade at the very, very end of a run. There at the end, once we got out in clean air, and got under Jamie, and got out by ourselves, I think we ran, what, half a second faster than we had run all day? Once I got out there and saw that Robby was doing what he had to do to keep them back there, it was just put it in cruise control and don't make any mistakes at that point.
Moderator: Richard, your second trip to Victory Lane for the Brickyard 400. Talk about this win.
Richard Childress: I mean, it's great. Any time you win at the Brickyard, it's special. You know, with all the history, tradition, and everything that's went on up here, have your name on that trophy, seeing Kevin's name on that, it's going to be special. We one it with Dale in '95. We look back, that was one of the most special things that we done, winning the 500 and championships. But the Brickyard fits right in there with it. Kevin, in our career, we'll look back someday and say, this will be one of the most special wins that he'll have in his career. But I'm just thrilled. I think the pass he made over there on Jamie was the winning move. Once he got out front, it was -- I knew if nothing went wrong or nothing broke, he was going to be hard to beat.
Harvick: Or wreck (laughter).
Q: Talking about that move, obviously a 400-mile race can come down to one corner. That was certainly the case. Can you talk us through what happened, what you saw? Could you tell why Jamie checked up?
Harvick: You know, he chose to go around the outside. But on the restart, there were six cars that were on the tail of the lead lap, three went low, three went high. Then it was Kenny Wallace, Jamie and me. I cleared Kenny. I think Jamie thought, like on all the other restarts, you were just going to drive around all those devise. They pretty much stayed side by side. I figured if I was on the bottom, I had at least more control over my own destiny than I would if I had just followed him. I cleared Kenny, just dove down there. It was like the sea just parted. Off through the traffic we went. That was it. I think Robby came with us on that one, didn't he?
Q: Kevin, on that cold day in 2001 when you took over this ride, you said nobody would ever replace Dale Earnhardt. Today you joined him as a winner here. Talk about being able to do something that he had done in his career.
Harvick: Well, I mean, like I've said to a lot of people today, anything we can join him in doing is an accomplishment because everything he did in his career was pretty much a positive and pretty much guided this race team and organization to where it is today. So to win as he did in '95 here at the Brickyard is something that is an accomplishment for me, an accomplishment for Richard, just to put this team back to where it was in '95 and '96 and every year that Dale drove it, is just a great feat for the whole organization. I know it feels good for me. I know, Richard, how many times we've talked about what we need to do to make it better. Here we are. We've had a great couple months, been close to winning not only here, but, you know, five or six times.
Q: Racing is a cruel sport. They judge you on your last win. I hate to remind you of the drought. Can both of you talk about what you do in a drought to keep the spirits up and keep performing to get to a day like today?
Childress: I think, you know, this sport has the highest and lowest of any sport that I've ever known. You know, you can go to the bottom real quick. You can't figure it out. You know, we kind of got behind with our organization. Kevin was driving. We just kept telling these drivers, "Believe in us, we're going to get it back." The last several months we've worked with our fab shop. We've really put our engineering group good and solid together. The engine shop, you know, I'm down there at least once a week to tell them we got to have more power, talking to Kevin. I think that's the thing, is having faith. And you look at -- you know, in my career, I've seen the best go here and come back. It's tougher to get back up there. You know, you can get behind in one day, but it may take you months to ever catch that one day up. That's the way this sport is. It's a tough sport.
Q: Kevin, can you tell the story about the autograph that you received from Rick Mears when you were a kid? How old were you?
Harvick: I don't remember exactly when I got it because it was probably in the early '80s. I believe it's '79 when he and Tom Sneva and Roberto Guerrero, those three were on the front row. It just says, "Good luck, hope to see you here someday." Man, I didn't know I'd be sitting in Victory Lane and be getting to do all this here at the Brickyard. It means a lot to me. I've looked at that picture for a long time. When I finally got the opportunity to race here a few years ago, I mean, you know, it was pretty much a dream come true for me. I really can't put it all into words. I really don't know how I feel yet. But I know I feel good, I can tell you that much. But it's hard to explain how good I feel.
Q: Kevin, did you sleep last night after learning that no one from the pole had ever won the race?
Harvick: No. The last time I was in this room, you guys were viciously reminding me of that (laughter). You know, you also said records were meant to be broken, too. Last night the only thing I didn't sleep -- the only reason I didn't sleep was because I thought we had the wrong shocks on the back of the car. That was why I didn't sleep. The first thing I did this morning when I woke up was call Todd and Bill and tell them we need to put the shocks back.
Q: With the track position and everything else at the end, you got to kind of walk a tightrope, maybe skip a stop like you did, get back to the front, just hope a caution does come out. Describe how that worked last two or three stops.
Harvick: I mean, the strategy really played right into our hands for us. I thought we were going to run third there for a while. The 20 car pitted, I don't know why. I mean, we were well within our fuel. We were done pitting. At that point we had pretty much made our bed and had to lay in it. When we had that restart, I always look forward to restarts because I usually make up a lot of positions on the restarts. You know, Jamie went high, I went low. Robby followed me, we went by. That was pretty much the key to the whole race. Basically there was a lot of green flag runs today, and we ran through fuel stops. I'm glad it didn't have a lot of cautions because when you have a lot of cautions, repeatedly in a row, what happens is you have a lot of guys that just don't put any tires on or two tires and wind up in the front. Your car's good, so you put four tires on, then you come out 20th. It played into our hands pretty good.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about kissing the bricks, what that was like, when you saw that being done before, climbing the fence, Richard, the guys climbing the fence. They planned it, right?
Harvick: We had actually talked about kissing the bricks this morning. You know, everybody was just really positive and really up beat. You know, the first thing he said this morning, "It's going to be an awesome day." We were running late. We fell into a police escort and made it to the track in seven minutes. He said, "I promise you, everything's going our way today." It's hard to describe. I mean, knowing the history and prestige of everything that's run on top of those bricks, that's why I wanted to stop and leave our own rubber mark across the bricks. If I didn't climb the fence, Helio would be mad at me. I figured I better go out there and do it.
Q: Kevin, back to the Rick Mears photograph. Where were you in your career at the time that he would say to you, "Hope to see you here someday"?
Harvick: Probably pretty early in my go-kart days. Probably 10 or 11 years old. So four or five years into my go-kart career.
Q: What kind of previous advice did RC give you that he came on post-race and said, "I told you if I told you listen, we would get there"?
Harvick: That wasn't him, was it?
Childress: We got her guessing (laughter).
Harvick: I don't remember who it was. It wasn't Richard.
Childress: I was up there breathing hard.
Harvick: He was hiding (laughter).
Q: Could both of you talk about last year when you won Chicago, you'd had something of a drought. You talked that y'all went down on Richard's farm down by the river, had a talk. He said, "Look, everything's going to be all right." A long drought again. Any more of those conversations, did they happen? Did you know without saying it or did you talk about it some more during this last drought?
Harvick: Well, I mean, I think last year I learned a lot, and Richard taught me how to get through a lot of different situations. That river trip was probably the most important thing that happened between the two of us. I think he drug me out of the river. It was one of those deals where I didn't know how to handle any of it and was pretty much at the point where I was just, you know, ready to quit and just go do something else. But Richard has a good way of talking to all of us, all of our employees at RCR, to make it all positive, it's going to be OK. He's been here and done that several times. Most of the time, if you just be -- if you're part of the solution, you're going to be more of a help than you are if you are going to make the problem worse. Last year taught me a lot. I think this season, it's paid dividends in a lot of different ways.
Childress: I just think that, you know, it's tough for what Kevin was put into in 2001, to go through that. I think RCR got behind. Our drivers didn't get behind as much as we got behind. You know, I just think it was us growing together, knowing what we want to do. You know, our goal someday is to be on the stage at New York. That's what I want to do. Kevin has all the talent, all the ability. We got to do our job. As you seen today, under pressure, whatever, he can handle his-self. He handled his-self under the pressure of 2001; he can handle a championship. Won the championship in the Busch with him. Just excited about the years ahead of us.