KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed getting into the Chase, the mindset of the Chase, sponsorship in NASCAR, RCR having three cars in the Chase and other...
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed getting into the Chase, the mindset of the Chase, sponsorship in NASCAR, RCR having three cars in the Chase and other topics. Full transcript:
TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK THIS WEEKEND AT NEW HAMPSHIRE AND STARTING THE CHASE: "For us, I think we just have to keep doing the things that we did up until this point. We won a few races, had a lot of top-fives and top-10 finishes. On the days where we really struggled, I felt like we, for the most part, made something out of those days. It was good enough to lead the points in the first 26 (races) so there is really no reason for us to change our strategy. I feel like the guys have done a great job of getting the cars prepared. They have built four or five new cars. We'll see what happens. Whether we win or lose, I think everybody has done everything we can control. We'll just go race now."
HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL WHEN PEOPLE SAY TO JIMMIE JOHNSON WHO CAN STOP YOU HERE AND HE SAYS YOU? "I think everybody is proud of everything that we have done to get turned around. If you had told me at the start of the year that the turn-around was going to be as good as it has been, I think we'd all have chuckled a little bit and said 'We hope so', but you never know how it is going to turn out until you start racing. It is kind of like these last 10 week, you never know what is going to happen until you get in here and race. Just proud of everybody. I think everybody is jacked up and just ready to go race and see where we stack up in the end."
DO YOU THINK THAT PUTS PRESSURE ON YOU BY BEING LABELED THE FAVORITE BY JOHNSON? "I think he is still the guy to beat. I mean, he has won the last four so how can he not be until somebody beats him?"
WHAT DOES IT MENTALLY FEEL LIKE TO GO FROM A POINTS LEAD OF OVER 200 POINTS AND GO INTO THE CHASE 30 POINTS DOWN TO THE LEADER? "For me, I just quit looking at the points about half-way through the year because things were going so good, it didn't really matter. We knew what we were racing toward and that was a reset of the points and we needed to figure out how to win more and we did. We started winning races. Then as we got closer to the Chase, we just raced and that is really all we did. Now, it is time to think about going back to leading laps and going back, if you aren't in contention to lead laps, you have to figure out how to get those five points. You have to figure out how to qualify decent and do all the little things that we did up until that point. Myself and the whole team knew what direction we were racing toward at the end of race 26, so the points didn't really matter. Once we got to a point of knowing we were headed toward the Chase, we started thinking about the Chase and we didn't even look, it didn't even matter."
ALL THE CHILDRESS CARS HAVE NEW CHASSIS HERE THIS WEEKEND, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE THOUGHT PROCESS TO DO THAT? SOME MIGHT THINK THAT IS A RISK TO COME HERE WITH SOMETHING YOU HAVEN'T RUN HERE BEFORE? "We think that is a good thing. Those cars were built and massaged and rubbed-on and really feel like they have been very detailed out as far as cars on the race track. That is part of the process of what we feel like we did right coming into the Chase, was build new cars that take more lead, that make more downforce and that's why we saved them until now. The good thing about all the things we do now is we have wind tunnels and we have the shaker rig and the pull-down machines and everything that we put these cars on. You know what your good cars are, so you go and put them all in that direction and you try to make them better. They are so good at building the cars now; I don't really think it is a risk. I think it is a good thing. I think you'll see that over the next several weeks. A lot of new cars coming out of our stable. I know there has been a lot of talk about the un-predictability of what you bring to the race track, but I feel like our quality control is better than everybody else's. The things that we do; the processes that we put our cars through to make sure they are built right and make the right downforce. The downforce is in the right spot. That is something that we do really good. I think RCR has always been very good at their quality control issues with the engine department and that has bled over into the manufacturing department of the cars."
YOU HAVE A NEW SPONSOR FOR YOUR TRUCK THIS WEEKEND, JEGS, WHICH IS NORMALLY DRAG RACING. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT PROGRAM? "I think Jegs has been a part of us, whether it's been just small pieces here and there for the last couple, probably three years actually, this will be the third year. They decided they wanted to venture out. They do the contingency program on the Cup and Nationwide sides. It is a big step for those guys to step out of the drag racing world and come over into the Truck series and be the primary sponsor. They have become good friends of ours and we are looking forward to running well this weekend and hopefully having a good showing for them and showing them that the NASCAR side will work well for them."
WHERE DOES SPONSORSHIP STAND WITH KHI FOR NEXT YEAR? ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT BIG NAMES LIKE TONY STEWART AND JEFF GORDON ARE HAVING TROUBLE SECURING FULL SPONSORSHIP FOR NEXT YEAR? "We've been very fortunate on the sponsorship side. Hopefully in the next three or four weeks we should have a lot of things wrapped up. And that's a good thing. Our intentions are to still compete in both as they currently stand in the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series with the vehicles that we have and hopefully maybe a few more races than what we currently run. Everybody has done a great job from a Cup car to the Nationwide cars. Our current sponsors are all going to still be involved from the Nationwide side and many of them on the Truck side. For us, we've been very fortunate to have a lot of success on the sponsorship side and things are going great."
CAN YOU CONTRAST WHERE THIS ORGANIZATION WAS A YEAR AGO COMING TO NEW HAMPSHIRE, AND HOW VASTLY DIFFERENT IT IS NOW FOR THE ENTIRE RCR ORGANIZATION TO HAVE THREE CARS IN THE CHASE? WHEN DID THE ACTUAL TURNAROUND BEGIN? "The actual turnaround began in Indianapolis last year. That was our first generation of new cars with some different set-up things that were implemented into the cars at that particular time. From that point on it's been a building process to get things headed in that direction. Richard (Childress) made a few more personnel moves as we went through that time and over the off-season. But really last year at this time, we had had a crappy year but the direction was headed in the right direction when we came here last year so everybody had started to calm down to a certain degree, knowing that the year was shot but that the direction was going in the right direction. So, I still say for the No. 29 team the key race for us was still California and just knowing that we had cars that were capable of competing. I felt like I made a big mistake and that was a huge eye-opener for everybody to get back in that mindset of remembering what you do when you win races and not forcing things."
WHEN YOU WERE GOING THROUGH THAT, DID YOU EVER THINK YOU COULD GET ALL THREE CARS INTO THE CHASE? "It's been more than normal to get the three cars than it has to not. For us, that was something we'd done pretty well at through the years. Last year was definitely more abnormal than the norm that we'd been used to. I think last year made us better. I think those struggles definitely made us better."
YOU TALKED ABOUT JIMMIE JOHNSON BEING THE FAVORITE, BUT OBVIOUSLY YOU'VE GOT TO BELIEVE IN YOUR OWN ABILITY TO WIN THIS CHASE. SO WHY CAN YOU WIN IT? WHY WILL YOU WIN? "I think we have the best chance to win just because of the mindset that we've been able to put ourselves in going into it first off; and that came from running well in the first 26 weeks and running through almost three Chases leading up until this point. Until you beat the guy that's won four times is one thing, but I think our shot at being able to win and have a chance to win the championship is there. It's just a matter of how it all unfolds in 10 weeks. All 12 teams are capable of getting on a hot streak at any time. We've all been here before. We've all won championships in some sort of racing division at some time. So it's just a matter of who puts these 10 weeks together and who gets on that hot streak."
DO YOU NEED TO BE BETTER THAN YOU WERE DURING THE REGULAR SEASON? "I don't think so. I think if we do what we did in the regular season I don't think we need to be any better."
EVERYBODY BASICALLY DREADS TALLADEGA. BUT IS THERE A TRACK OTHER THAN TALLADEGA THAT YOU ARE MOSTLY CONCERNED ABOUT? "I look forward to Talladega. I think the way that our superspeedway stuff has gone this year, and I know that can turn at any moment, but I look forward to the challenge of Talladega and putting ourselves in the position to race there. For us, the biggest hiccup has been Charlotte and we ran okay there this year and hopefully we can build on that and a lot of race tracks that we've gone to that we thought we had struggled at in the past, past stats haven't stacked up for us as far as what we've done at particular race tracks. I think Michigan is a great example. So we just go out and race and I don't think of a weak point for us that we have; there's going to be a week that we don't run good but I don't think going in there we're going to think that we're going to run bad. So, Charlotte would be the one that sticks out in these 10 weeks. You can go to any of these race tracks and say that you've had a bad day at some particular moment. I think we're looking forward to all of them right now."
DO YOU AGREE WITH TONY STEWART THAT MAYBE THE CHASE GUYS COULD HAVE THEIR OWN POINT SYSTEM SEPARATE FROM THE OTHER 33 GUYS AND IF YOU HAVE A BAD FINISH, IT'S ONLY AMONG YOURSELVES AND NOT AMONG EVERYBODY? "All right, you're going to get me started on points and Chases and that stuff (laughter). The part of this sport that I like the most is that it requires you to race all 43 guys. And the part that sticks out to me the most is if you want to create a points championship that has one or two point increments and you can have a bad week, having a bad week is part of this sport. And if you finish 43rd, you still have to race the other 43 guys. If you want to have your own point system, let's just have 12 cars on the track and call it I-ROC, because it won't work. So, you've got to race against all 43 guys. Durability has always been a part of this sport and being creative and how far you can push things and having wrecks. Creating its own point system for the Chase would be a total mistake because that's not what our sport is about. Our sport is about guys trying to make the race and people having to put their stuff on the trailer and go home. It's always been (about) who could not break engines and who could not break parts and who could not break pieces. So I think you'd open up a can of worms. It wouldn't be fun because it's still not about 12 guys."
ON DOVER, YOU FINISHED 7TH THERE EARLIER THIS YEAR AND THAT COULD BE A WILD CAR FOR SOME OF THE GUYS BECAUSE THINGS HAPPEN SO FAST? "Dover is a cool race track. It's fast. But there can be a wreck off of Turn 2 that will swallow up 10 or 15 cars. We've been on both sides of that fence. We did run well there at the beginning of the year. Hopefully we can do the same thing when we go back. It's one of those race tracks that lets you know how fast you're going, not only when you're going around the race track, but if you happen to hit something. It's a fun race track but it can eat you up pretty fast."
-source: gm racing