Team Chevy press release
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed heading into the Chase and the future of Kevin Harvick Inc (RCR).
TALK ABOUT COMING INTO RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY THIS WEEK FOR THE LAST RACE BEFORE THE START OF THE CHASE: “This has been a great race track for us and I think as we come here off of a good run last week, hopefully this keeps the momentum going heading into the last 10 (races). Ready to race and ready to get out and get on the race track and get the weekend going.”
WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF MERGING THE KHI NATIONWIDE PROGRAM WITH RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (RCR), WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE TRUCK PROGRAM AND WHAT KINDS OF FACTORS ARE YOU CONSIDERING IN MAKING A DECISION? “There is nothing to announce today, but, the one thing I can tell you is there will be no trucks that run out of KHI. But, as far as what happens with the truck teams, that will come in the weeks to come.”
CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY YOU MADE THE DECISION ON THE NATIONWIDE AND THE TRUCKS AND DO YOU HAVE ANY COMMENT ON THE DAVID HYDER LAWSUIT AGAINST KHI? “I don’t have any comments. Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, lawsuits are a part of business, but I don’t have any specific comments on that (Hyder lawsuit). There’s a lot of factors that went into a lot of the decisions that were made. I think as you look over time; as you look at the Cup car and you look at the sponsors on the car and you look at the sponsorship that we currently had acquired in the Nationwide stuff, sponsorship was there and is still there on both cars as we merged the two teams. As you look back when RCR decided not to run the Nationwide cars, the cars were different. As the cars have migrated back to the same chassis, a lot of the tires, a lot of same things…components and things on the cars, it makes more sense from a performance standpoint for us to put them back at RCR to utilize the pieces. The technical inspections have become extremely difficult for a stand-alone team to not make all the things right…to make the same things right that need to be right in order to keep up with Cup teams, you have to be in a Cup shop. That is the unfortunate part about where we are with the processes and things that come with the Nationwide cars. So, from a performance standpoint, I feel like we will be better with the Cup people and technology and things in the shop. In return, that gives…obviously DeLana and I will still be involved in the teams and working through a lot of processes to take the best groups of the two people at RCR and KHI and put them together and make better race teams from the Cup side; from the Nationwide side.
“The reason that the Truck program is really…it’s just a tough; it’s a tough model business-wise. We have scrimped and scraped and got the sponsorship and things that you need. GM (General Motors) has been a great supporter of everything that we’ve done. But from a business standpoint, sometimes you just have to make the decisions as to what you want to do and for us it just didn’t make sense.
“In return, on all of those decisions, still being involved with everything at RCR will allow me to spend more time with my Cup team. Takes an extreme amount of pressure off of me as a driver and an owner. I think when you look at the personal time that we get back from DeLana and my standpoint; it’s just a tremendous amount of time. There’s way more positives to the whole thing than there are negatives and we’re really looking forward to experiencing all those things. So, it’s been a lot of work, obviously. Everybody got to see exactly what was happening Wednesday. It took us until 4:15 p.m. to get everything done and it’s been months in the process. I think it’s going to be a good thing. Hopefully the Nationwide teams there will get the sponsorship done. I think we have seven or eight races left to sell on the two cars, which is, for September in this day and age, is a great place to be in. We can work hard on getting Austin’s (Dillion) car funded to where it needs to be.”
IF AN ORGANIZATION LIKE KHI CAN’T MAKE IT IN TRUCKS, WHAT DOES THAT SAY FOR THE SERIES? “I think when you look at the expectations that we put on the company to race, it obviously us, RCR, costs us more to race the vehicles than probably some of the other people with no overhead. The Truck Series is a great series. It is a lot of fun. I would love to continue driving some races in the truck series as we move forward. It’s just a point where we felt like we needed to some decisions from a business standpoint and these are the decisions that DeLana and I made and Fred (Lekse), Josh (Jones) and everybody involved has done a great job of taking the best of both worlds and making them work. There was no financial issues; we were making it all work. But, sometimes you just feel like you have got to get something out of it. We were winning races and loved to be a part of that; but, in the end it’s business.”
YOU SAID YOU HAD BEEN PLANNING ON THIS; WAS THIS THE PRIMARY REASON YOU DIDN’T GO TO THE WHITE HOUSE? “That was the only reason. For me, I’ve known what’s going on for months. And for me, this is as far as it could get pushed because the most important part of the season on the Cup side is coming up and I needed to sit here today and answer all these questions and set the record straight. And we needed to have everything done and I need to go into the last 10 weeks with a one track mind, and that’s to run that Cup car as fast it’ll go and be a part of that team and do the things that we needed to do and everybody from RCR was on the same page. And it feels good.”
YOU SAY THIS IS A BUSINESS DECISION. BUT IN THE MONTHS LEADING UP TO IT, I’M SURE IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR YOU PERSONALLY AND EMOTIONALLY IF THE RIGHT THING OR THE WRONG THING. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW THAT WEIGHED ON YOU IN THE EARLY STAGES SINCE IT WAS YOUR BABY AND PROBABLY HARD TO LET GO “Well, we still wanted to be involved and that was the hard part to figure out was how do we still be involved in it to the point of having an opinion on things. So we worked through a lot of that. There’s just a tremendous amount of moving pieces and just to get the ball rolling, that first conversation, was awkward. But you know, it really hasn’t been as taxing or as crazy mentally of a decision as you would think it would be; just for the fact that you see all these positive that have bloomed out of all the conversations and all the reactions have just been crazy as far as the way the rumors have spun out of control. DeLana and I have just kind of sat back and laughed at a lot of them. But I feel like as a couple, and as a group at KHI, we’ve made a lot of good business decisions over the course of the years. And it’s going to allow us time to explore other business opportunities as well. There were a lot of moments that you look back on, and there really weren’t any bad moments or moments that were just gut-wrenching that you had to go through, it was a relatively easy process.”
COULD YOU CLARIFY WHAT IS KHI AFTER THIS SEASON? YOU’VE GOT CHASSIS-BUILDING STUFF. WHAT’S GOING TO BE IN THAT SHOP? “As we’ve gone through the months, that’s a lot of the things that you haven’t seen. The customer stuff has basically been shut off for several months as the process has kind of been starting to be put in place.
The manufacturing side has been shut down for a month now; so there have been a lot of things that have started to progress and take part as we’ve led up into these moments of today. Kevin Harvick Inc. will basically become…… the No. 2 and the No. 33 cars, we’ll still have an interest in the decisions and the things that happen at RCR. It’s just going to operate under that particular roof. And really, that’s not a lot different than the way Richard (Childress) and I have done things the last couple of years anyway. We talk constantly and it brings a lot of people together to put in situations that should be better for Cup, Truck, and Nationwide. But Kevin Harvick Inc. will actually just become Kevin Harvick Inc. for myself like it used to be back in the day. We’ll handle all my personal stuff, and other businesses and things that function out of there, fan club, fan material, website stuff, that we’ll operate in the office side. But the racing portion of Kevin Harvick, Inc., the only part that will still exist, we’ll operate out of RCR. But there won’t be anything racing-wise operating out of our shop.”
YOU SAID THIS WILL ALLOW YOU TO FOCUS ON YOUR CUP RACING AND YOU ALMOST WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP LAST YEAR. WHAT MORE CAN YOU DO, OR WHAT HAS THIS KEPT YOU FROM DOING AND HOW IS THIS GOING TO MAKE YOU BETTER GOING INTO THIS CHASE AND NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND? “With the Nationwide stuff, and obviously the Truck stuff that RCR already has with Austin (Dillon) and what will be Ty (Dillon) and (Joey) Coulter, it just allows you to be at one facility. You don’t have to separate your time as far as where you’re going to be or make decisions on where you’re going to go or what you’re going to do. It’s pretty simple; it’s a one-stop-shop. So, there is just going to be more personal time spent, I guess you could say, as we move forward. There were still 140 people that worked at the shop so you still had to worry about the sponsor issues and you still had to worry about all the things that come with the team ownership side. I think that most of that we’ll help with; but in the end, it’s going to be the responsibility of the guys at RCR to go out and get new sponsors and things. They don’t have to get many on the Nationwide side, aside from the ones we already have.”
ULTIMATELY THIS IS A BUSINESS DECISION AND IT WASN’T THAT DIFFICULT, BUT THAT TRUCK TEAM HAS BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL IS THERE ANY WISTFULNESS LETTING THAT THING GO GIVEN ALL THE WINS AND THE CHAMPIONSHIPS YOU GUYS HAVE HAD THERE?“It has been a great run. Obviously one of the hardest conversations I had to have was with Ron (Hornaday), telling him where everything was going and he was a big part of helping us to get to the point that we are at today. It is fun, don’t get me wrong it is fun to go out and win truck races and be a part of it. We have been able to win championships and I think that’s one of the great things about where we are at with the decision is. It is not like we are struggling to get by or no sponsorship or we are not winning We are winning races, we have got the sponsorship, we have done the things right to keep the things on the race track and it going to be successful at the time we moved on. In the end and this is no knock on anything, but really the only thing that I want to do that we have not been able to accomplish in my career is win a Spring Cup Championship. Cup cars make it all go around. Richard and I have talked about this a lot. Without the Cup car being successful on Sunday or Saturday night whatever the case maybe, Trucks don’t exist, Nationwide cars don’t exist and the sponsors aren’t there. We are lucky that the sponsors are all there and things have gone good over the last several years. That Cup championship is what we are after.”
YOU SAID 140 EMPLOYEES DO MOST OF THEM KEEP THEIR JOBS, OR HOW DOES THAT WORK? I KNOW YOU GUYS SPENT A LOT OF MONEY REFURBISHING THAT SHOP LAST FALL ARE YOU GOING TO SELL ALL THE EQUIPMENT OR WHAT HAPPENS THERE? “There is really no reason for us to keep the equipment. Richard has everything that he needs and once we get to the point of him having everything that he needs to operate the way that he wants to operate next year, and then we will move on with everything and get rid of it. I think as you look at the shop side of it, that is the easy part. The people part is the hard part, we told them Wednesday afternoon that was the plan to tell them Wednesday. I told everyone on our facility Wednesday afternoon what was going on. As we go through the process through the end of the year obviously, there will be a number of jobs that come available at RCR (Richard Childress Racing) and they will all have the opportunity to go about those jobs. Hopefully, with the situation that we have put the truck teams in going forward, it will gives a number of jobs available too. Our goal right now is to get as many people in a solid position as we can going forward. That is really why we did this so early was to make sure everyone had a great opportunity to fit in with the new situations and make sure they had time to do what they needed to do.”
DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY JOBS RCR WILL HAVE AVAILABLE? “No, that is still a work in progress as far as where all the Cup teams and things fall.”
WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THE ACTUAL FACILITY? “Do you want to buy it?” WHAT WILL YOU DO NOW WITH ALL YOUR FREE TIME, BUT PROBABLY MOST CONCERNING IS WHAT HAPPEN’S TO MOTHER FUNCTION? “Well we still have a number of things that we have to do, so there will be a core group of us, Fred Leske, who has been with me since 1998, is still there and Josh (Jones, Kevin’s Business Manager and known on twitter as Mother Function) will still be there and we will still have a number of people that it takes just to handle the stuff that we do personally. KEEP THE BUILDING? “No, hopefully not, I thought you were buying it”
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH YOUR FREE TIME NOW? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH YOURSELF? “ Well when you look at it, just from a driver’s standpoint, I am still going to run, I am going to run more Nationwide races, as we move forward, than I did this year, so we will still do that. On the Cup side you are still going to have to do 80 or 90 appearances a year, and you are still going to have to do the things that come with just being a driver and doing the normal things that come with that, so hopefully it allows you to spend more time with the sponsors and you do not have to have so many of them split up. There are some normal things that you can do in life too, I hear. Hopefully we can experience some of those.”