KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and talked about road racing, his season to date, making the Chase, his 2006 season, images, and much more. HOW WAS PRACTICE? "The...
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and talked about road racing, his season to date, making the Chase, his 2006 season, images, and much more.
HOW WAS PRACTICE? "The car has been good so far. Obviously we didn't practice much. We practiced a lot in race trim yesterday and made one qualifying run. The car has been okay so far."
DO YOU LIKE HAVING YOUR TRUCK TEAM AROUND THIS WEEKEND? "Oh, I like having them around. I don't bother them much. I don't go over and get in the middle of anything. I'll go sit on one of the pit boxes during the race and that'll be about it. Most of this sport is won or lost at the shop. There's really not a whole lot you can do about it, by the time you get here. You need to make sure it's all done at home because once you get here it's just about fine-tuning."
COMPARING SONOMA NEXT WEEK TO THE WATKINS GLEN RACE "We finished second last year at Sonoma. So it's been a good race track. It always comes down to fuel mileage and where you position yourself at the end of the race accordingly. So, sometimes we've been on the good side of that and sometimes we haven't. That's really the biggest difference. At Watkins Glen you have a lot more opportunity to pass. If you get behind a little bit you can make up some ground and get back into it. But I'm really looking forward to next week. I think that's probably the best chance we've had to win yet so far this year."
BECAUSE YOU LIKE ROAD COURSE RACING, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE GOT TWO-THIRDS OF THE FIELD BEAT SINCE MANY OF THE DRIVERS DON'T ENJOY IT? "Well, I don't know about that. Even the guys that don't enjoy it are pretty good at it. It's hard to get that many of these guys in this garage covered at one time. So you never know what you've got until you unload. We feel like our tests have gone good and we've got good strategy and always have at the road courses and have always run really well. So, you never know what's going to happen this time, so you don't want to get over-confident about anything."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON THE ROAD COURSES LAST YEAR? "I didn't think he was as fast as he was expected to be. That's really all I noticed."
ON THE GRANT/NASCAR LAWSUIT "Well for me, it has always been a family sport. It's always been a family business and there are still a lot of families that are still involved in our sport as today as there were 50 years ago. This sport has been here for a long time and has a lot of the same values that it had when it started. So, the world has changed, obviously. There are a lot of things that you wish wouldn't go on in the world but it's just kind of part of our day-to-day procedures, I guess you could say, and some people see that a little bit differently than others."
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE PRICE OF GAS WILL POTENTIALLY DO TO THE SERIES? "Well, I don't think our series is necessarily affected any differently than any other sport. The world is going to change and when you look at things and you go back and you go home, gas is not a huge expense for any particular person. Obviously the gas prices have gone up, but I think it's going to make everybody reevaluate their lives and what they drive and how far they drive but it's not going to affect one particular thing more than any other. It's going to affect the whole country more than it's going to affect our particular sport."
ON YOUR LIST OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS, HOW DO YOU RATE THE 2006 SEASON AND WINNING 14 BUSCH AND CUP RACES? "Yeah, that was a really good year for us. That's how this sport is. We haven't run as well as we want to run this year. You go back and look at 2006 and we're really not doing anything differently than in the past. There's those ups and downs. People catch up and you get behind and you've just got to keep beating down that path. I've been on top of the highs. That was the most we'd ever won in one season, by far, but that was a pretty incredible season. It seems like we couldn't do anything wrong. Everything we touched, turned right and anytime we ran good, we dominated and usually won the race. It was a year that nothing really went wrong and we did almost everything right."
COMPARED TO OTHER DRIVERS' REALLY GOOD SEASONS, HOW SHOULD PEOPLE RANK YOURS IN 2006? "There is one thing I've changed in the last couple of years. The popularity contest is out the window for me. I could care less. How many souvenirs we sell or where somebody ranks me, I don't know. It was a very respectable year. We were flying all over the country. We won the Nationwide championship and we were in contention for the Cup championship. We won a lot of races and the overlooked part of it doesn't bother me anymore. I don't read the newspapers. I don't listen to a lot of things that come around me anymore.
"It's all about what's going to happen five years from now and hopefully in those five years trying to win a Cup championship. As far as the popularity of it or the ranking of it or anything like that, I just leave it all to people. And hopefully when I'm gone, I've left a mark on this sport."
KYLE BUSCH HAS ALREADY WON 10 RACES ACROSS THREE SERIES THIS YEAR. SHOULD THAT BE APPLAUDED OR IS THERE A DIFFERENT LEVEL OF TALENT? "Well anytime you can win in any of the three divisions is something that's rewarding, but it's also quite an accomplishment when you can win that many races. I still don't know what he's got to prove in the whole Truck deal, flying all over the place trying to win Truck races. The Nationwide and Cup things are hard enough. When you throw all that in there, it doesn't seem like he's really got anything to prove over there. But it's all in whatever floats your own boat and I guess that's what floats his boat. Obviously it wasn't very productive for him last week flying all over the place. But sometimes you can get that momentum and you think you're invincible. This sport has a great way of bringing you back down to reality."
ON THE PGA TOUR THEY TALK ABOUT SATURDAY AS MOVING DAY WHERE YOU POSITION YOURSELF TO COMPETE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP. IS FROM THE 600 UNTIL THE OFF-WEEK NASCAR'S VERSION OF MOVING DAY WHERE YOU POSITION YOURSELF TO MAKE THAT FINAL RUN FOR THE CHASE? "This is an important stretch. This is a good stretch for us, track-wise. But we haven't done anything right in the last six weeks. It all started at Phoenix running out of gas; we've wrecked all over the place. We've wrecked more this year than we've probably wrecked in three years. Nothing is really going right. But like I said earlier, that's just the way this sport is. You ride the highs when you're up on top and when you're down on the bottom at the lowest of lows, it's all in how you get through those times. When things are going good, that's the easy part. When things aren't going your way, that's when you got to hopefully pull it all together and make it right. But yeah, this is obviously an important stretch leading up to the Chase. Hopefully we've gotten through our bad stretch and we can get it all going back how it was at the beginning of the year."
ON THE DRIVERS MEETING WITH NASCAR FRIDAY MORNING "It was a good meeting."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE NASCAR DO MORE LIKE THAT IN TALKING WITH THE DRIVERS? "I think it all depends on what's going on. NASCAR talks to a lot of the drivers a lot of the time. It's just a matter of how willing you are to go up and spend the time to talk about it. As young drivers, I was in the same boat. You don't want to go up in the trailer. It's kind of like talking to your dad. When you turn 15, 16, or 17 years old, you kind of rebel against the whole situation and a lot of the young guys in the garage don't really understand what's going on. And they're really fast in the race car, but don't really have a clue of everything that's going on around them. But that'll come as things happen in the sport and happen in their lives and they learn the surroundings of what makes this sport go around. Right now there are some of them that, sure their car doesn't drive like it was a couple of years ago, but this car was not intended to drive like the ones a couple of years ago. We were supposed to put more of the driver capability back in the hands. And if you go back a year and a half, or two years ago, a lot of the guys just wanted to keep putting downforce in the car, put downforce in the car so they could hold the thing wide open. Well that's never been what NASCAR racing is all about. If they want something they can hold wide-open, they need to go race IndyCars and ride around in a pack like that. So, there are a lot of them that disrespect the sport week in and week out and they act like a bunch of 18 year-old punks, which most of them probably are, and they just need to grow up. If we all move in the same direction, things will get better as they would in any business, whether it's the media or the drivers or the owners. Everybody here has the same goal and that's to have a successful sport."
DOES THAT PUT THE ONUS ON NASCAR TO BE MORE RESPONSIVE TO A DRIVER COMPLAINT? MAKING THOSE COMPLAINTS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS INSTEAD OF COMING TO THE MEDIA AND COMPLAINING? "You can't control what anybody says to the media and whether you guys like it or not, you guys are looking for, a lot of the media in this garage are looking for negative stories. You turn on CNN and all you see is negative, negative, negative; and that's what the world wants to see and that's why I don't watch the news (laughs). So when those guys say something, it ignites a fire."
NASCAR JUST BASICALLY IS SAYING THAT IF YOU HAVE A COMPLAINT, COME AND TALK TO US BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. "I do that all the time. That' show the sport has always worked. I wish more of them would do that."
WITH THAT HAPPENING, IS THERE MORE ON NASCAR TO BE MORE RESPONSIVE? "I don't think so. I think NASCAR is more open than the public really knows about. There is stuff going on, whether it's from the owners or the drivers, all the time. There is always somebody sitting up there if you have a problem, that you can go talk to. If you wait long enough, you'll get the right answer from the right person if you want to wait for that answer."
YOU SAID YOU GAVE UP THE WHOLE POPULARITY THING A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO. WHY IS THAT OR WHY DID THAT HAPPEN? "I'm worried about racing my car and I'm not worried about what somebody thinks one season was about or two seasons were about or how many souvenirs you're selling or anything like that. Maybe that's detrimental to the image that you carry. But for me, it's more about trying to be competitive and race week-in and week-out on the race track. The rest of it, I've seen that and been there and been a part of it. You need to put most of your effort into the on-track stuff with as much time as it takes now."
SO IS IT JUST A WASTE OF ENERGY FOR YOU TO WORRY ABOUT THAT OTHER STUFF? "Yeah, it seems like it (laughs)."
-credit: gm racing