Kevin Harvick, team Joliet race notes

Kevin Hamlin, crew chief, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo: "This is a good day for the GM Goodwrench crew. We're going to celebrate this victory. We're going to be excited about it. You know, our last victory (Atlanta),...

Kevin Hamlin, crew chief, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

"This is a good day for the GM Goodwrench crew. We're going to celebrate this victory. We're going to be excited about it. You know, our last victory (Atlanta), we didn't really quite know how to feel. But we're going to celebrate tonight with this one."

Richard Childress, RCR Owner, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

"The guys did a super job. Kevin did a great job all day. All these guys worked hard. It feels great to win. And with Junior's win last week, this is just awesome."

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

"These guys did a heck of a job in the pits.  Kevin Hamlin had great pit
strategy.  But we owe this to Todd Berrier and Jeff Green because those guys
came here and tested both days.  The motor shop did a heck of a job so we
got up to speed after that last re-start pretty quick.  This means a lot.
When you get your first win, everybody says you're a flash in the pan.  So
here's the second win.  This is an awesome place."

How does this compare to your win in Atlanta?

"This is a lot different because we were going through a lot of emotions and ups and downs when we won Atlanta. It was only our third race and we were still in shock over the fact that Dale Earnhardt was gone. But now, we've got some races under our belt and some more time has passed. And with Junior's win last week at Daytona, this helps us to get closure. That's not to say that we don't miss Dale, or to diminish what has happened in any way, but as time goes by we are more able to focus on what we need to do."

Did you use any of the same set-up for this race that you used for the Atlanta race?

"We used everything that Todd Berrier and the No. 30 AOL car came here and tested with. We made some adjustments to fit my driving style and I think we changed two springs and a sway bar."

Can you describe the sequence of events toward the end of the race?

"When they were all jumbled up there on the restart, that was the best opportunity to pass. Once they got spread out, the guy in the lead really got out there quite a ways. I thought Jimmy Spencer was going to be the one to beat. He was definitely going to be hard to pass. We got by him and made up some time and got by Mark (Martin) and from that point, we had another re-start. That was probably the most nerve-wracking part of the whole deal with three laps to go. Probably the biggest relief was seeing the smoke coming out of the No. 25 car (Jerry Nadeau) because he was probably the next best car on the racetrack."

For Richard Childress: It's been a little while since Kevin has won a race and even though he's a rookie, what do you think of him now?

"Like I was telling a lot of people when we hired him, I said, 'Kevin Harvick is the real deal.' Unfortunately we've had some tough times. At California, between Kevin (Hamlin) and I, we run him out of gas and hurt the engine there. But we've had some really strong runs. If you saw his performance today and yesterday, I think that answers any questions about his driving ability."

For Harvick: What was the track like?

"The track still has a lot of grip. Our car took four or five laps to get going. From that point on, it was consistent. Goodyear brought a pretty good tire here. We didn't see a whole lot of wear and it was very consistent throughout the whole run. Between the racetrack and the Goodyear tires, we didn't have any problems with anything whatsoever."

For Harvick: Unlike the win in Atlanta that was 'in memory of' Dale Earnhardt, does this win give you your own identity?

"It does. But personally, I don't mind everything being 'in memory of' because this is 'in memory of'. Dale Earnhardt is the reason that we're racing. And we want to do the best we can for him. That was our goal - to go out and win a many races as possible and to run as good as we could. I think that's what he would have wanted us to do and I think right now he'd be pretty proud of us for paying attention, running up front, and not giving up on any part of it. At this point, you can think whatever you want because I don't mind. He's the reason we're here."

For Harvick: What was your tire strategy?

"I think the biggest thing was that yesterday in the Busch race we saw that the tires really weren't going to make that big of a difference in the long run. We had to play the tire strategy game again today too. I know Kevin (Hamlin) and Richard (Childress) don't like to do anything but put four tires on sometimes. But I know under the circumstances that we had today, with the track having so much grip and the tire being so good, that sometimes you didn't need tires. Sometimes you only need two. It didn't affect the way the racecar handled. Whatever you had was what you would have if you took two tires or four tires or no tires. It was going to be the same as it was before you put tires on it. I think the biggest thing is that this is consistent with the Goodyear tires. You don't have to come in and get four tires. You can stay out and get two tires. You can come in and get gas. Goodyear has taken the tire out of the equation and added strategy to winning races. I think you've seen that throughout the year so far." Kevin Hamlin comment: "Goodyear brought a heck of a tire here. And with the track surface being the way it is, the tires weren't going to play a big factor in today's race. It was just a matter of making sure you got fresh ones on there that didn't have holes in them or something. That was the biggest worry about putting fresh tires on. It wasn't about whether they were worn out. Track position is the key every weekend. We got back in traffic, but still had a good enough car to drive back up to the front."

For Harvick: Can you talk about the consistent progress you've made in your career?

"I think this year has been more of a whirlwind than anything. But I've been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. Wayne Spears was probably the biggest key in my career in 1998 when I was able to get on the truck team. To have people like Richard Childress notice that I could drive the truck. So '98 was probably the biggest year for me but I've taken all the steps through NASCAR just like from Late Models to Southwest Tour to Winston West to Craftsman Truck to Busch to Winston Cup. I haven't spent a whole lot of time in each series, but it's been the process that NASCAR designed it to be. I guess the system works."

For Harvick: When you won your first Busch race last year in St. Louis, what would you have thought if someone said, "You'll have two Cup wins by this time next year"?

"I probably would have told them they were crazy. Next weekend will be our one-year anniversary for winning our first Busch race and I think that's really a credit to Richard (Childress) and Kevin (Hamlin) and everybody else for taking control of me. They've taught me how to run for points and how not to win the first 50 laps of a race."

For Harvick: Talk about the last re-start when Robert Pressley bumped you a little bit

: "I don't know if he was trying to intimidate me or what he was trying to do. But I'm sure I knocked the grill out of his car because he got a pretty good brake check. The game was over after that."

For Childress: How good is Kevin Harvick going to be?

"I've been in this sport 30 some-odd years and you see the greats come along. I think he has everything it's going to take to be on the stage in New York one day (referring to the year-end Awards Banquet).

For Harvick: What is the most important thing you've learned in Cup racing so far this year?

"It's not about destroying my racecar during the first 100 miles of the race and not having anything left at the end. If you can't win, you have to make the best of the situation. If you've got a 10th place car, try to finish ninth. To make the best out of a weekend is better than crashing your car and not finishing the race. That's the biggest thing I've learned."

For Harvick: Since there wasn't much of a second groove, was your strategy?

"When the cars were all bunched-up on the restart, it was easier to pass. I never was forced to race on the outside groove. I think our car was good enough to do it. On the restarts I could run through the top groove wide-open and never check up. To me, that was a pretty good sign that the top groove was there in (turns) one and two. In (turns) three and four it was still kind of edgy getting up there. But the next time we come back, I think the track is going to be two our three grooves wide. It'll be fun to race on - like it was today."

For Childress: After Mike Skinner had a flat tire, and Rusty Wallace and Todd Bodine had tire problems, did you do anything different in your tire strategy?

"That early in the race, Mike Skinner ran over something to cut that tire down. I think we ran 70 or 80 laps on that set of tires of ours. We didn't know there was a tire problem." Kevin Hamlin comment: "We assume Mike Skinner ran over something to cut his tire down because it was too early in the race at that point to really have anything go wrong with the tire. All our stuff looked great that came off the car all day. The No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) car came here and tested tires and we got that information from Robbie Loomis (crew chief). His tire tests were where our air pressure was set up and we never changed a thing all day."

For Harvick: As hard as it was to pass here, how hard was it to stay patient?

"That was hard. I thought Jimmy Spencer was going to be the car to beat on that restart. He was going to be hard to pass. I saw an opportunity to make it three wide and drive it in on the bottom and that's what we had to do. With everybody else I was able to take a little bit of time and make sure that we were clear and make a good clean pass on them. But on the restart, the big thing was getting by Jimmy Spencer. I knew that could be a task."

For Harvick: If you win the Busch Series and place in the top five in Winston Cup this year, would you do it again. And Richard, would you let him?

"I don't think so. I'm done running back and forth after this year. It's helping us a lot with the racing (experience), but traveling back and forth between two different states probably isn't helping, but we only have to do that two more times this year. We'll make it through that and we'll be fine. We'll probably run most of the companion races next year just to get some more experience and make sure I get plenty of seat time and learn all the race tracks. Richard Childress comment: "Yeah, that's kind of our plan. You've got to have a life in this business. For him to sacrifice everything we're doing this year is tough. Next year we'll just do what it takes to run the amount of Busch races to help us out and hopefully be right up there for the championship."

For Childress: Can you compare the differences of when Dale Earnhardt joined your organization and now, when Kevin Harvick has joined it?

"Each one has special moments and special times and it takes some time to think about it to answer these questions. I still remember walking to the press box in Talladega in l984 when we won our first race. And today we walked here, but it wasn't as far. They are two great drivers."

-GM Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Rusty Wallace , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Jimmy Spencer , Kevin Harvick , Jeff Green , Jerry Nadeau , Robert Pressley , Kevin Hamlin , Robbie Loomis