Michigan II: Harvick - Friday media visit

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET met with media and discussed racing at Michigan, having a four teams at RCR next year, changes to the schedule, and more. ON BEING THE POINT LEADER AND WANTING TO WIN EVERY WEEK "I think everybody...

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET met with media and discussed racing at Michigan, having a four teams at RCR next year, changes to the schedule, and more.

ON BEING THE POINT LEADER AND WANTING TO WIN EVERY WEEK

"I think everybody comes to the race track wanting to win the race every week, and if you can't get that then you take everything you can get after that. We've been fortunate enough to put ourselves in position to have a chance at Indy and Pocono, and haven't capitalized on it, but felt like at Pocono we probably had a car that was capable of winning, at Indy we didn't and had the best chance to win just by taking a chance, so I think that's probably what you're going to have to do the last 10 weeks anyway, is take those chances and the reward is definitely worth the risk that comes with it. So, we'll just keep doing what we're doing and see what happens."

KYLE BUSCH WAS IN THE MEDIA CENTER AND SAID THAT WITH HIS TEAM AND SOME OF HIS PEERS, THAT HE HAS ONE OR TWO GOOD CARS IN THE FLEET AND THE REST ARE SLOW. YOU, THOUGH, HAVE BEEN CONSISTENT ALL YEAR. ARE ALL OF YOUR CARS PRETTY EQUAL? IF SO, WHY? "Well, I'm going to be honest with you -- I couldn't even tell you what car we bring to the track. I got out of that mode a long time ago, just for the fact that I didn't want to have any biased opinions on what a car felt like, and I think having the faith in the guys to go through our quality-control process, after your cars get back with the parts and pieces has always been very strong at RCR. So, I know we have two or three new cars on the floor. I know we have been racing new cars the last two or three weeks. We have a timeline of how long how they last and when you're done running them. I haven't driven a bad car this year."

HAVE YOU HEARD OTHER DRIVERS SAY THE SAME THING (ABOUT ONE OR TWO GOOD CARS)? "Not on our team. Not that I know of. You have so little room, but I think that the thing that you do -- when I talk about the quality-control process -- you have new cars and you can't now take them to the wind-tunnel anymore, you have to stop the problem before you get to the track. So, I think our guys have always been very strong at making sure that the repeatability of all the parts and pieces are good."

WHAT DOES THE CONSISTENCY IN YOUR CARS ALLOW YOU TO DO AS A DRIVER? "I think the biggest difference in what we've got this year as compared to what we had last year is just the fact that when you're off, you know the cars can run fast and you know they can be right if you put the right stuff in them. So when you get in the race or you have a bad practice you can adjust on the car to make it right. It's not like it's just going to be bad all day. If you know what you like and you know what the adjustments need to be, at some point you can get it right. But it's not the car's fault, it's our fault for putting the wrong stuff in it, because those cars have run fast everywhere we've taken them, whether it's my car or Burton's or Bowyer's, the cars have all been fast. So, it's just a matter of finding the right combination.

"And really the thing that keeps all this stirred up are the tires -- not that Goodyear does a bad job, it's just the tires change because they try to advance the technology and advance the compounds and advance the sidewalls. And anytime that the tire changes, everything in the car changes, so by the time you think you've got a good package, the tire changes and then you've got to adapt to that. And, like I say, that's not from them doing a bad job, it's just from them trying to advance the technology and the tire as we go forward. It's a constant evolution, and a lot of that comes from the tire."

(QUESTION INAUDIBLE). "Our cars are just faster than they were last year, and last year you raced in the middle of the pack, you wrecked in the middle of the pack, and even when you took a chance to take two tires or no tires and get up front, you were just in the way. Now, you take two tires and you get up front and you might drive away. So, you just have stuff that capable of taking chances because the speed is in the car and capable of being up front."

WE STILL SEE A LOT OF COMMENTS FROM FANS, WHETHER IT'S A TRADITIONALIST'S VIEW, THAT THEY STILL DON'T LIKE THE CHASE FORMAT. COULD YOU ADDRESS THE OPPORTUNITY THE CHASE PRESENTS TO SAVE A SEASON, AND ALSO THE IMPORTANCE OF MAKING THE CHASE TO SPONSORS? "I think that the opportunity to have a chance to race for the championship is very important, and to the sponsors it's the majority of the season, the responsibility of the team and the expectations of the team are set on making the Chase. And the sponsors want to be a part of that top 12 and that mix and the media and all the excitement that comes with that. As far as the fans not liking it, I think you you could look at that 50-50. I think that some do, some don't, but I think the opportunity of being able to have a mediocre start to the season and have a chance to race for the championship and the day of somebody winning the championship from that point of being 12th and coming in and winning the championship, it's not going to happen very often but Alan Kulwicki won a championship. He didn't have all the big teams and all the big things that came with all of the big-time sponsors and things that came with the teams that he was racing against. So, it's just going to happen that often, in my opinion. It's been a long time since that happened, but it will happen again at some point. Now, as far as changing it, I'm not a big fan of change. I don't like trying to figure out what the rules are, and as a sports fan in general when you have playoff systems and things that you don't really understand how they work, it's not as much fun to watch."

IN TALKING ABOUT THE CHASE, RICK HENDRICK SAID ON TV LAST NIGHT THAT THERE ARE GOING TO BE SOME HURT FEELINGS AND THAT THERE WILL BE SOME WARS. DO YOU THINK THE CHAMPIONSHIP WILL BE THAT TIGHT? AND IF IT'S DECIDED BY A RESTART, IS THAT A GOOD THING?

"That's racing. I mean it could happen on a restart, it could happen on a pit stop or at a particular race track or it could happen from a flat tire. Narrowing it down to one restart, that's not fair. But it could happen. In the last 10 weeks there is a lot of pressure from the guys racing for a championship and you push harder than you've pushed all year. And there's a lot at stake. So if somebody's feelings get hurt along the way then we don't want it but if that's what you've got to do, that's what you've got to do. The potential is definitely there."

LOOKING AT BRISTOL, YOU WERE VERY CONSISTENT AND BETTER BEFORE THEY CHANGED TO THE VARIABLE BANKING. HAVE YOU HAD TO GET USED TO IT?

"Well, I think there was a lot that was remarkably better before they changed the track. I don't know that it was just our performance, but it's one of those things where I feel like we've run well. I feel that we've had a chance to win a couple of races with the new track and just wrecked or done something where we didn't get a good finish. It's not near as big a challenge to drive so there's a lot more cars that are competitive. We just haven't had the results to show in the end and that's basically it."

BASED ON YOUR POINT LEAD AND HOW YOU'VE RUN THIS YEAR, ARE YOU THE MAN BTO EAT COME THE CHASE? AND ARE YOU THE MAN TO BEAT JIMMIE JOHNSON?

"I think that Jimmie Johnson is still the guy to beat until somebody beats him because he's won the last four (championships). So, I think we've all seen this movie before across the last four years and I think you've got to respect that until something changes. So we've run well but in the end, we've done our first job and that's to most likely be in the Chase. And now our second job is to make it happen over the last 10 weeks. We've made it happen so far over 20-some weeks but still, it's got to happen over the last 10 (weeks). So anything can happen and we'll just have to wait and see."

ON HAVING FOUR TEAMS AT RCR NEXT YEAR, HOW MUCH FAITH DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU'RE IN A POSITION TO DO IT BETTER THAN YOU DID TWO YEARS AGO?

"Well, I think you look at the end of the four-car stretch there and all four cars ran really well at the end of last year. Richard (Childress) sat down with all of us individually and asked our opinions and our thoughts and got the sign-off from everybody. He always does that but he doesn't need to do that. I think that if you look at the situation of how the team is structured and it's very simple. Scott's going to go in and say okay you need this many people. We need to add this person to the fab shop and add this many people to the paint shop and it's a very simple equation, which is not how it was structured before. But as far as the performance of the cars, you look at the last eight weeks of the season last year and all four cars ran great. So it wasn't a number issue. It wasn't a four-car team issue that we had last year. It was slow cars that we had last year. And once the cars got fast, all four teams ran fine. That fourth team doesn't mean anything. It's very simple to put the processes in place. You've got the appropriate sponsorship. You've got a driver. Now you just go down the list and you start with the crew chief and you put a car chief in place and it's very easy. So, the chassis shop already builds chassis for our Nationwide and Truck teams so there are already extra people in place down there; and the engine shop builds as many engines as necessary, and their performance has been very steady for the last two and a half years. So, it should be very simple. As long as the cars run fast, it won't even be an issue."

FOUR TEAMS DOESN'T REALLY WORK THAT WELL. HAVING FOUR TEAMS, THAT'S A LOT OF PEOPLE TO WORK TOGETHER, ISN'T IT?

"I don't think so. I think it's fairly simple. You can make it into as big a story as you want to and disagree however you want to but when you have the proper funding to go hire the right people, it's easy. You go out and hire the right people and put them in place and at some point, every team is going to struggle through the season. You're going to have your ups and downs through the year and you're going to have to adapt and adjust and make things better. And you're going to have people get mad and teammates arguing and fighting. But I think a classic example of not having everybody on the same page was last year; we had our issues with contracts and we had our issues with contracts at the beginning of this year and we had our issues with cars not being fast and the No. 5 (Mark Martin) team is in much of a situation this year and you know, it's not the fourth team, it's outside circumstances that are creating those issues and not without having everybody be on top of their game. I think you look at that; I think when you look deep enough you'll understand that the issues that you have are deeper than just having four cars because I'll promise you, we're just use the number, having 20 million is better than 10 (million). Our sport runs on cubic dollars. If you want to go fast, the more cubic dollars you have, the faster you go."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin , Alan Kulwicki