KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed qualifying, Cup ownership, the Busch brothers and other topics. YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE WEEKEND AHEAD: "I'm excited to obviously...
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed qualifying, Cup ownership, the Busch brothers and other topics.
YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE WEEKEND AHEAD: "I'm excited to obviously race close to home. It's nice to sleep in your own bed. We live about 30 minutes from here so it's cool to be able to do that. This place is a lot of fun. Obviously we've run well in everything that we've run, Truck or Cup cars. We haven't exactly had the results that we've performed at, but that will come and we're just looking forward to getting the weekend started."
IS YOUR FREE AGENCY IMMINENT AND COULD YOU TELL US WHAT YOUR SITUATION IS AND IF YOU'VE HAD ANY CONTACT WITH ANY OTHER TEAMS OR IF THERE ANY TEMPTATION TO CLIMB OUT AND BE AN OWNER: "I don't think so on the owner side, but I have another year left on my contract after this year so I'm not in the middle of all that stuff this year. You can go ahead and check my name off that list. We had an extension in my contract that we signed about a year and a half ago, so it goes through 2010."
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR YOU TO FEEL COMFORTABLE AT THIS TRACK AND WHEN DID THAT POINT COME: "This is a tough place to get around because it's so easy to overdrive and it's so tempting to go ahead and do that. The first year we came here the first time and it was bad. The second race we came here and it wasn't much better, but we wound up on strategy being able to lead the race. I think that was the year that I spun Bobby Hamilton out. He had the dominant car and wound up in that situation. I think I got parked for three or four or five laps, so this place can get you kind of riled up and it takes a while to really get over the fact that you're going to get run into and beat around. There's going to be situations during the day no matter how good or bad you're running that you get in situations that stuff's going to get banged up a little bit and you have to try not to get frustrated. So, really just the mental aspect of it is just as hard as the driving aspect of it. Really there's a fine line, I guess you can say, on how hard you can drive the car here without just totally screwing the thing up to the point to where you can't make the thing work. It's still hard today to keep yourself in a rhythm and not overdrive the car."
LOOKING AHEAD A COUPLE OF WEEKS TO PHOENIX COULD YOU TALK ABOUT THAT TRACK: "Phoenix is a place for me that's a lot of fun just because it's a place where I grew up racing and the track hasn't changed a whole lot. Obviously the surroundings have changed a little bit on the outside, but it's a place that I enjoy going to. I enjoy the flat tracks and it creates a unique challenge because the asphalt's wore out and it's got a lot of cracks and crevices. It's one of those places where you have to get your car to handle a little bit differently on each end and you have to drive a little different on each end, so it's a fun place to go race."
THERE ARE ONLY FOUR ACTIVE DRIVERS WHO HAVE WON MORE THAN ONE RACE HERE AND TWO OF THOSE GUYS, GORDON AND JOHNSON, HAVE WON 12. IS THAT EVIDENCE THAT THIS IS JUST ONE OF THOSE PLACES WHERE SOME GUYS GET IT AND SOME GUYS DON'T OR IF THEIR CARS ARE BETTER THAN EVERYBODY ELSE OR IF GORDON AND JIMMIE JOHNSON JUST HAVE A SPECIAL ABILITY TO GET AROUND THIS PLACE: "Well, I think that obviously those guys do a really good job at this particular race track and their organization has notoriously done well here. It's a rhythm race track and it's a place where you have to have forward bite but you have to have your car turning in the center of the corner, and they just have a really good package for here. I think that all started back when Jeff started having success here and they had success before that here - before Jeff came along. Hendrick has just done a really good job here for a number of years and they have a great setup and they have great drivers to go along with them."
WITH THE CREATION OF DEGREE PROGRAMS GEARED TOWARD CAREERS IN THE RACING INDUSTRY, COUPLED WITH THE GROWING DEMAND FOR TECHNOLOGICALLY SAVVY INDIVIDUALS, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT BECOMING TO FURTHER ONE'S EDUCATION TO BE COMPETITIVE IN THE RACING INDUSTRY'S JOB MARKET: "I think our sport has become so technical it's important that if you're going to be involved in the sport as a crew chief or an engineer that your education is very important. I look back at some of the things I did just in high school and junior high and I took a lot of the speaking classes and impromptu classes and you look at all that stuff and think they suck as you take them, but as you go through life you realize it's important to be able to communicate, especially in the position I'm in now. It's important to be able to lean back on a lot of that stuff. It's important especially on the engineering and crew chief side as technical as the cars have become."
TRACK POSITION IS IMPORTANT HERE AND WITH THE WEATHER WE MAY NOT GET PRACTICE IN TOMORROW, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT QUALIFYING: "My thoughts are there won't be any qualifying and we might not practice today. I think the weather's in Greenville S.C. and coming this way. For us, we start in race trim every week. I think the only exception to that was last week when we didn't make a lap before practice even ended. We start in race trim. I'm a guy who has to have a little bit of rhythm before I get into qualifying trim and we like to get a little bit of a start on our race trim stuff before it's time to go into qualifying trim. This place is a little bit different. I think everyone will go out in race trim because it's so easy to make so many laps so fast and there's not that much of a difference between your qualifying and race setups."
CAN I GET YOUR ASSESSMENT OF RICKY CARMICHAELS' PERFORMANCE SO FAR: "When we started Ricky's program, we took him to a couple of tests and kind of wanted to evaluate where he was from a drivers standpoint before we even started going down the Truck road. He got it; he gets it. He's a racer and he understands what he's doing and he's very well motivated to do the things he needs to do. The good part about Ricky is you don't have to teach him anything that comes with money, surroundings, life in general. He's already got that figured out from his career and he has a great foundation for life in general, so the main thing we have to teach Ricky is to get him experience on the racetrack and teach him the things that come with driving the truck. He got up to speed right off the bat. He's kind of sent us into a tailspin just because he's been so good at all of the racetracks we've taken him to and he's run in the top 10. Obviously, he's been run over a couple of times and been in the wrong spot, but for the most part he's gotten up to speed fast and performed well. We're trying to fill holes now to try to finish the season. We started with 14 races and added a couple along the way and we'll continue to do that as long as the sponsorship is found."
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO GET YOU TO EXPAND KHI TO A CUP OPERATION? "Everything we've done at our company has been done when the timing was right. We did the Nationwide deal when Tony just wanted to have fun and he brought Kid Rock along. He didn't want to do it at Gibbs and he didn't want to do it himself, so we said maybe it's a good time to go Nationwide racing and that evolved. Same thing with the Truck program, I did it for fun, and then GM wanted to expand on the Truck program and that led into full time. I don't ever want to drive it. I think there's too much crossover for me from the driver/owner side. I'm perfectly happy doing what I'm doing from the driver side and I love that competitiveness. I think that facility-wise we have the facility and the foundation laid to be able to do Cup, but unless it's the right situation with the manufacturer and the sponsor and everything is right from a sponsorship side, we won't venture down that path until that is right. I think the foundation is laid to do what we would need to do from a Cup side, but we've got to have the rest of it to go with it and it would have to be a no-brainer, but I wouldn't be scared of it."
GIVE US YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE BUSCH BROTHER'S STREAK: "I think as you see the success obviously, both of them are very talented people. I think being in the situation that I've been in the past with the fans you get into situations where fans don't necessarily like what you say or like what you do. I think that's the situation they are kind of in. When you're winning a lot, people just don't like you because you're winning a lot. They're both very talented people. Maybe a lot of people don't really see eye to eye with what they say or what they do, but you can't argue with the fact that they are very successful on the racetrack and I think it can continue. I think Kyle gets a little more savvy off the racetrack every week. You can't do anything but respect them because of the fact that they're so good on the racetrack. Off the racetrack - I'm talking about Kyle - that comes in time as you get older and as you get in more situations, you become more comfortable with what you do and say off the track and smarter about what you say off the track. As long as he keeps having results on the racetrack, it isn't going to matter."
-credit: gm racing