Post-race press conference with winner Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Team owner Richard Childress and Crew Chief Gil Martin also in attendance. KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Repeat ...
Post-race press conference with winner Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Team owner Richard Childress and Crew Chief Gil Martin also in attendance.
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
Repeat winner. Kevin's third career W.C. victory, his first victory and third top-10 in 2002. Second victory in the two races at Chicagoland. 13th different race winner this year. Second straight driver to win the first two races at a new race track on the W.C. circuit, joining Tony Stewart ('99 Homestead). Led 29 of the 267 laps including the final 25. It is his fifth victory for Chevrolet in 2002.
HARVICK: "It was obviously a good day and finally I think we got a little luck on our side. Got a little greedy with our fast race car and spun the thing out. And came back and then we were forced to kind of just pit when we needed to and just stay out. We didn't know how fast it was going to be when it got out front, but it was plenty fast. We could come through traffic and pass cars and go high and go low. It was just a matter of track position for us and once we got it it was pretty much lights out."
DEFENDING WIN HERE? TESTED HERE?
"We're just glad to defend anything at this point. We had a good month; we didn't have a lot of the finishes to show for it. The momentum has been building and the chemistry between myself and Gil and all the guys is really strong. They are a lot of guys like me that haven't won a lot of races, we're all hungry to win races, and hungry to prove everybody wrong. I think we've accomplished all those goals and (it's) pretty much fast forward from here."
TALK ABOUT THE WHOLE MOVE DOWN ON TO THE APRON THAT LED TO THE SPIN? JEFF GORDON ALTHOUGH HE QUESTIONED THE MOVE SAID IT CLEARLY WON THE RACE FOR YOU.
"At that point the race car was so fast that while the tires were fresh I was trying to get everything I could. I thought that Kurt would clear the guy on the outside of him. And when I came back up, there wasn't a whole lot of room to go. Because when you come off the apron you need to go straight up and I tried to go into the corner and up onto the race track and all at once and it just felt like somebody popped both the rear tires. Just lost it and (it's) fortunate that nobody hit us but dang you can't knock us for trying."
A MOVE THAT WON YOU THE RACE WAS PITTING ON LAP 18 ON FIRST CAUTION:
"We've talked about this. That's one thing that is so fortunate about the situation is all of us hang out with each other. And we were hanging out at the motor home just going through situation after situation just watching the Busch race yesterday there at the end, when Jeff Burton passed the pace car, is that OK, or do you pit early, what do you want to do? We went through a lot of scenarios yesterday, and dang, if the race didn't play out the same way it did yesterday and we'd already run through all this stuff once. So, we came in and didn't put any tires on, put gas in it and we were pretty fortunate. That's one thing that Gil taught me. If you look in the mirror and you see everybody else coming, just come. I thought I'd knocked the valves off the thing and went through the grass and we came on pit road. It turns out that was the first move that won us the race. The second move was when we pitted when we knew we could make it to the end."
DID YOU GET DOWN ON THE APRON BEFORE YOU GOT TO THE TURN BECAUSE YOU WANTED TO GO DOWN THERE OR YOU WERE FORCED DOWN THERE? JEFF SAID IT WAS A STUPID MOVE TO GO DOWN THERE:
"Jeff Gordon got second, so maybe if he'd been a little braver he might've won. We went down on the apron coming into the trio-oval, done it two or three times, and he thinks it was a stupid move and I think it was pretty cool."
WHEN YOU HEAR COMMENTS LIKE THAT, IS IT JUST SOUR GRAPES?
"I think there's a lot of people that thought they had us beat down and kicked up and buried in our grave and looking for somewhere to fill the hole at RCR. Like I said before, if anybody read the article on nascar.com, we've been sitting back for a couple of months just watching and writing and remembering. Just putting our heads down and letting our race car do the talking. That's been our main focus, to go out and work on our race cars and really not get in the middle of any turmoil and just go out and what difference does it make. If we can make it through last year at RCR, we can make it through anything and this is a little speed bump going through the parking lot at 15 miles an hour. We've got a lot of confidence in each other and we're very, very excited to be together as a race team and as an organization. It doesn't matter what they say. We're here and the only people that I care what they say are in these black and silver shirts or on the America On-Line or Cingular car."
RICHARD CHILDRESS (this weekend is a sweep for RCR: Busch win and Winston Cup win):
"It's great. It shows the strength of our organization. We were down, everybody, when you're down, people try to kick you as hard as they can. No one ever gave up. We knew that there was a peak up there and we could get there. And Kevin and Gil and everybody in our organization never gave up. Johnny Sauter, he was hurt for a few weeks there, and we got him back and I'm just proud of everyone and all of our sponsors, ACDelco, Goodwrench, for sticking behind us. That's what it takes. I heard Kevin say it before. The people that believe in you will always be with you."
ON RECENT SWITCH AND YOUR SUCCESS?
"Everybody from the outside is pretty surprised at the fact that switching teams and we had good chemistry right off the bat. Well, we've had pretty good chemistry the whole time and because we had Robby from last year and we had a lot of momentum. It's probably a surprise to a lot of the people in this room, in the stands and all over the country, that we've been able to run this good this fast. This team is good, the organization is good. We just had a lot of little things that we had to get over and we've gotten past them. We'll be strong."
WHEN YOU WERE DOWN, HOW DID YOU KEEP THAT FROM BECOMING DOUBT?
"He's sitting right here (Childress). We have a lot of meetings and he let's us know he's been through this a lot of times. That when you ride the highs you've got a lot of people that are there to support you, and when you get down, when you're having trouble, hey, the only people you've got to depend on are the people that you're right there working side by side with. And he's preached that to us and he's been there and done it and we believed in him. He has 246 employees and it's paid off."
HARVICK: "I'm kind of in the same boat. Richard will tell you. I was right on the verge of being in the doubt category and he took me down by the river and he said, Look, everything is good. He said just trust me and I'll trust you and all of a sudden everything just kind of clicked in my head and I said, You know, everything is good. We'll just roll along with this thing and he's been through this before and I'm just here to learn and try and listen to what he's got to say. I was there and he pulled me up and kept me from drowning. We're just fortunate to have him on our side and him keeping us going in the right line and really making us pay attention to the things that we need to pay attention to."
CHILDRESS: "Just a great organization behind us, you know. At RCR it takes a lot of people. Like I say^ÊWe still got a lot of hurdles we got to cross. I wish I could say that everything was uphill from here, but we got a lot to do. Our goal is to win a championship and have Kevin Harvick on the stage in New York. It's going to take a lot of work to get us there and (we're) excited about a lot of things in the future that we're working on."
HARVICK: "We got two more race teams to get into victory lane before the end of the year, too."
IMPORTANCE OF MOMENTUM IN RACING. WAS PART OF IT WHAT HAPPENED AT DAYTONA?
"If you were speaking to the 29 team I think we went there and sat on the outside pole, I think. Was running second in the race and we ended up getting turned around and at that point =8AIt hurts the momentum of any race team when you get knocked out.
We still were just lacking some chemistry and lacking some things on that race team. I actually seen it going into the end of last year and we talked about some changes then and we decided we'd roll on this year a little ways and right now Robby Gordon, Kevin Hamlin, everybody's working together for one organization. And I think it's going to pay off for all of us."
TALK ABOUT KEVIN'S DOWN ON THE APRON MOVE. DID THAT BRING BACK MEMORIES?
"I think race drivers today, to win, have to be bold at times. And I think the moves that Kevin's made today=8ALast year I remember the move he made going into 1, I think it was Jimmy Spencer down there=8Athat's what it takes to win races and he knew what he was doing and I have seen Jeff Gordo n make some of those same moves before and end up winning races. You've got t o remember those things."
ON THE GRID AFTER THE RACE, ZIPADELLI SAID THE BEST THING ABOUT THEIR MOVE TO THE CHEVY IS THAT THEY HAD NOBODY TO COMPARE THEMSELVES TO AND NOW THEY CAN COMPARE THEMSELVES TO GUYS LIKE YOU?
"We had Joe Gibbs' organization in Chevrolets before. It's a great organization and I don't think Tony was there at the time. They're fun guys to work with and I think it'll just complement the whole GM program and were all excited about having them back in it, and the competition, we welcome it."
YOU AND THE 30 CAR AND CAME IN AND TOPPED OFF AND GORDON TOPPED OFF. WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT MORE CARS DIDN'T TRY IT?
MARTIN: "I was real surprised. The next thing I was surprised on when we didn't come in right there when everybody came in at the end and we stayed out. Nobody else got tires. We had a big sigh of relief on that, too. Being out front was everything and I think that everybody thought that maybe some more cautions would come out and they just played the odds. Being out front was everything so we had to pit early and make sure we had plenty of fuel. I'm glad they didn't."
GIL, THIS IS YOUR FIRST WINSTON CUP WIN. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
MARTIN: "This is my second one. Luckily, we won a race at the end of the year last year with Robby and, I was just telling Kevin, it's going to be hard for me to catch up with him. He's got three and I've got two. We're going to keep going and I'm gong to be one behind him all the time. I hope we can be 30 and 29. I'd like to see that. Everybody at RCR is working so hard as far as Kevin Hamlin, Todd Barrier, the other two teams. They're going to come around and win a race real soon too. The way everything looked today, all three RCR cars were running up front and very strong. I think Robby got into the wall a little bit and messed his car up some, but Jeff (Green) ran strong all day long, and I think that's a sign of things to come."
WITH THE SEASON YOU'VE HAD SO FAR, WITH SUSPENSION, ETC., DOES IT KEEP YOU FROM BEING TOO AGGRESSIVE?
"I think the biggest thing (is) I've learned a lot through these situations and you have to come back and gain a little bit of respect. It's not about that I can't be aggressive, it's just that you can't retaliate with your vehicle as a weapon, basically. That's the biggest thing that I learned. We're out there racing and there's going to be a lot of things that happen and (you) just have to understand those circumstances and those situations and really try and step back and realize what's going on. I think that that week after that Martinsville incident really made me realize what was going on and what I needed to do and what I needed to change and learn. I told you guys from the beginning that the way I drive wasn't going to change. Just some of the things that I do might be a litlte bit different. I'll still tell you how I feel. I'll still tell you everything that I think. It's just the fact that=8Athere are just three or four little things that I did that pushed it over the limit. Just need to take those and learn by them."
ON FUEL SITUATION, THE LAST FIVE LAPS OR SO, FUEL PRESSURE GAUGE, LOOKING IN REARVIEW MIRROR AND SEEING JEFF BACK THERE:
"Gil's really good on the radio. He told me, Come in, we can make it from here. That's all he said. Either he was really confident in it or he wasn't going to get me all stirred up. At one point he came across the radio =AD and this is Gil's way of telling me that I need to slow down. He said, Now look, you don't need to race any of those guys in front of you, just kind of take your time. I got the message. I said, OK, he wants me to save some fuel here. So I stayed behind Sterling, and Bobby and then just let off the gas and let it roll. I think that might have helped us out in the end because I got to do one little burnout out there. God knows if it would've kept running. I might've blown the thing up. It was pretty close and they've done a good job. And Gil probably was a little nervous =8Ccause we picked up eight tenths and also got out in the lead. What he figured was 31-30 and we were running 30-60. He was probably a little more nervous than he was letting me know."
COMPARE TRACK LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR: "Everybody was terrified to go off of the bottom last year. We came to the tire test here and the IROC cars were here testing and they spent one whole day and all's they did was run around in the second groove. My car was really good in the second groove today. I think I did a lot of my passing on the high groove early and moved back down at the end. The IROC people are the ones that we really need to thank for making the racing in Chicagoland a lot better this year because they spent a day or two and even when they came back this time. So, they spent two full days just making sure that the second groove was really good."
DID YOU HAVE ANY CHICAGO CONNECTIONS BEFORE A YEAR AGO AND IS CHICAGO YOUR KIND OF TOWN?
"I've actually never been to the town of Chicago, so this is as much I know about the town of Joliet. Obviously it's become a pretty special place for us to go and just and race, because we've had a lot of success here, we had a lot of success in the Busch car before I broke the rear end gear in the pits last year. We ran good in the IROC race. This place, for some reason, just fits the way I drive. I've been pretty fortunate to come back with good race cars and a positive attitude on everything that's going on."
WHAT'S THE UP SIDE FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR. HAS THE TEAM GOTTEN THAT GOOD?
"I think so. When we switched everything around, Gil told me, he said, Look, you guys just give me a couple of weeks here, we'll get everything going in the right direction and we ran really good anyway at Pocono and the thing popped out of gear and blew up and we didn't finish good. We came to Michigan and pitted and we got caught in the pits but we ran with the leaders all day, so as a team and an organization we could see that things were going better. Just by the performance on the race track. We weren't getting lapped on the race track anymore or finishing bad because we ran bad, we were just having some dumb racing luck. Like I said, we've been really to ourselves. And just anybody that's not wearing silver and black just doesn't understand what we're thinking or what we need to do. And as a team and as a company at RCR and GM Goodwrench and all the people that surround us we knew that everything was going a lot better and there were some positive things that were happening. Our main goal was to take the top 15, take it to the top 10, to the top five and put ourselves in position to win. When you've got race cars like we had today we can win races. Heck, we won at Loudon last year. We should be good at Loudon this week. Our goal was to take those first couple of weeks and when we got to Daytona act like nothing had ever happened, start over, and go from there. We're doing pretty good so far."