Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed on-track incidents between drivers, the Chase, the state of the economy, communication with NASCAR, working this weekend...
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed on-track incidents between drivers, the Chase, the state of the economy, communication with NASCAR, working this weekend with the VFW, racing at PIR and the championship battle.
DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE LINE IS YOU DON'T WANT TO CROSS IN AN ON-TRACK CONFRONTATION BETWEEN DRIVERS SUCH AS DAVID GILLILAND AND JUAN PABLO MONTOYA LAST WEEK AT TEXAS? "I think a lot of that stuff is self-policing. Sometimes you treat the guys how they treat you. That instance last week was probably something that shouldn't have been handled that way. That is a good opportunity to get somebody hurt. I didn't see what happened the laps before that, but obviously, that was probably a little excessive."
IS IT POSSIBLE TO MISJUDGE HOW HARD YOU TOUCH SOMEONE? "Usually when you try to hook somebody in the right rear that is not something that you can really misjudge. You can misjudge it. If you are trying to wreck somebody, you don't want to wreck yourself."
IS CLIMBING HIGHER IN THE STANDINGS THE FINAL TWO RACES ON YOUR MIND? "I think that all kind of winds up where it winds up. If you can't win it, it really doesn't matter after that. You go out and race as hard as you can for wins and try to put yourself in the best position that you can, but anything after first really doesn't matter as far as I am concern."
TALK ABOUT RON HORNADAY'S QUEST FOR THIS SECOND CONSECUTIVE AND FOURTH OVERALL TRUCK TITLE: "It is just a different atmosphere than the championship race last year. You have two great competitors, two veterans. Two people that you really respect in the sport. It is fun to watch them racing for the championship. It has back and forth all year; they have both had mistakes that have kept it close. They have both had really good runs; they have kind of mirrored each other through the year. We will see what happens. The No. 33 was good yesterday and the No 23 (Johnny Benson) was good. It should be a good couple of weeks as far as that championship is concerned."
HOW IMPORTANT IS GETTING A WIN ON THE CUP SIDE WITH TWO RACES TO GO? "It is something, I have learned, that you can't force. You go out and try and put yourself in to that position to be able to win. Bottom line is, we haven't put ourselves in enough of them this year. We have run really good the second half of the year and we have had chances to win races but the amount of them haven't been enough."
IS THE FACT THAT ONLY 12 DRIVERS HAVE WON CUP RACES THIS YEAR AN ISSUE FOR THE SPORT? "I don't know, I am not a huge statistician. I couldn't tell you if that is a high number or low number.
"I think 15 or 20 guys can still win races. It is just a matter of the way circumstances have worked out. I have told you guys from the beginning, you don't know how the Chase or the year is going to play out until you actually play it out. You can't predict anything.
"That is the great part about our sport. It is very unpredictable. It very unpredictable as to who is going to run good, who is not going to run good. Who is going to be terrible and how everything is going to play out. It is just so unpredictable; it is hard to know what is what. I know a lot of people want to read 'Fewest Winners Since '99" or whatever the case may be. It really doesn't matter, if you go back, I am sure there are years that have been just like this."
HOW DO YOU THINK THAT STATISTICS BODES FOR PARITY IN THE SPORT? "I have no idea. You guys read in to it what you want to; you make a story of it. If you look at the practice sheets and things, they (No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS team) have just done a better job of putting themselves in position. There is really no story to be made out of it other than they have done a better job than everybody else. The No. 99, the No. 18 has fallen off the map. That goes to show you how competitive this sport is. If you want to make a story out of it, make a story out of the guy that dominated the first half of the year and not being in contention for the championship -- that will give you your parity."
WHICH IS A BETTER STORY FOR THE SPORT -- HAVING JIMMIE (JOHNSON) WIN THREE CHAMPIONSHIPS IN A ROW OR HAVING CARL (EDWARDS) COME FROM BEHIND TO WIN? "They are both good stories. I think somebody making a comeback is always a feel-good story. A guy that has been very consistent through the years, has won a lot of races and has a very good team, is a very good driver winning three championships and doing something that only one other guy has done, that is a pretty good story."
IF JIMMIE WINS THE CHAMPIONSHIP, NOW DO YOU THINK IT WILL COMPARE TO CALE YARBOROUGH'S FEAT? "Not being able to be a part of Cale's stuff week in and week out like I have been able to be a part of Jimmie's stuff, it is hard to compare that. You see what Jimmie and those guys have been able to overcome week after week. If you remember at the beginning of the year, those guys were terrible. I mean, they couldn't get out of their own way. All of a sudden here they come halfway through the year, they are back to winning races and turning it all around and making things happen. They have done that year after year after year. To rebound from things like that and put championships together is something that all the other teams in the garage haven't been able to do.
"When they are far as they were at the beginning of the year and they come back and are probably going to win the championship, that is a story. That says something about what the sport, it is very competitive. To have those guys come back and do what they have done is something that is quite an accomplishment."
HEADING IN TO THE CHASE, WHO WOULD YOU HAVE SAID WAS YOUR PICK? "All you guys have to do is go back and look at your tapes six weeks before the Chase started and I told you guys who the car to beat was. I mean, Jimmie Johnson had the momentum coming in to the championship. He was winning races, running up front and consistent in the top three, week in and week out. I said that six weeks before the Chase started that that was the car to beat. I know Kyle (Busch) had won a lot of races, but when you have a team that has stayed together and all of a sudden here they come with that momentum and they have been the team to beat, they were the contenders that had to be the favorite in my opinion and here they are."
TALK ABOUT HOMESTEAD? "We have run very good there in the past. It is a unique race track and I look forward to going there every year."
IN LIGHT OF THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY, HAS NASCAR HAD MORE OF AN OPEN DOOR POLICY WITH TEAM OWNERS AND DRIVERS? "I think they have. They have been much more open with the team owners and the drivers than they ever have been since I have been I have been involved in the sport. They are asking questions, wanting to know what we think. That, to me, that is a sign of someone wanting to communicate with everybody to make sure everything is okay. They have been very open with everybody over the past couple of months to really make sure that everybody is on the same page and going forward. I think they are doing a great job right now in trying to put together an idea of what they need to do knowing that next year financially is going to be tough on everybody not only in our sport, but in our country and the world, however you want to look at it. I think they are opening those things up right now."
DOES BRIAN FRANCE NEED TO BE AROUND MORE OFTEN? "If you look at different companies, they all have different leadership roles. How they play those roles out is different depending upon the person. Mike (Helton) is kind of the leader of the sport in the garage and I think everybody looks up to him as far as what they need to do and how they need to do it. I think Brian is taking a different approach and instead of micro-managing everybody, I think he is really taking the 'you do your job and I'll make sure you do it' approach."
HOW IS NASCAR HELPING? WITH SPONSORSHIP SEARCHES? "I don't think that is anyone's business. I feel like they have been very open with everybody."
AS A TEAM OWNER, HOW WORRIED ARE YOU ABOUT THE ECONOMIC CLIMATE? "The easy thing to do would be just to complain about it and just quit. Usually in this time you can either make your teams better and you can position yourself stronger going forward. I think that is how we are approaching it is to try and position ourselves is to be stronger going forward when all of this passes."
TALK ABOUT THE KEVIN HARVICK, INC. EFFORTS WITH THE VFW WITH VETERANS DAY COMING UP: "Veterans Day is Tuesday. They have a big weekend here with VFW on Ron's (Hornaday, Jr.) truck. They are going to bring a ton of troops through the weekend. The race track and the VFW and ourselves have put together some great program with a lot of the troops. With the VFW on the truck, they will have something to really root for and it is always rewarding to be a part of that."
BECAUSE PHOENIX IS A SPECIAL TRACK FOR YOU, DO YOU KNOW IT SO WELL THAT RUNNING ALL THREE DIVISIONS THIS WEEKEND, YOU JUST GET IN AND GO AND HAVE FUN? "In my own mind, I feel like I am so comfortable here that I can just get in and go and really adjust to whatever vehicle it is just because I have been in all of them so many times that I feel like I know the difference between each one when I get in it."
CAN CARL EDWARDS CATCH AND PASS JIMMIE IN THE POINTS THESE LAST TWO RACES? "I mean, they have go momentum right now for sure, but I think it is going to be tough to make up the ground that he needs to make up without the No., 48 having a complete disastrous problem.
"If you want to look at the difference between the two when you see the lows of the No. 48, you don't really notice them because they are not as low as most would people go when they have problems. When the No. 99 has had a problem, they have been failures."
-credit: gm racing