Press Conference Highlights with Richard Childress and Kevin Harvick May 5, 2006 Richard Childress, Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and Kevin Harvick, no. 29 GM Goodwrench / Reese's Monte Carlo ss have agrfeed to terms on a contract extension...
Press Conference Highlights with Richard Childress and Kevin Harvick
May 5, 2006
Richard Childress, Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and Kevin Harvick, no. 29 GM Goodwrench / Reese's Monte Carlo ss have agrfeed to terms on a contract extension that will see Harvick as an RCR driver through the 2009 Nascar Nextel Cup Series season.
CHILDRESS: "It's great for us to sign a new contract. Kevin played a huge role in RCR back in 2001. A lot history had been made with Kevin and RCR and hopefully a lot more history will be written over the next three years of what we can accomplish and what we will accomplish over the next three years. I'm just excited to have it done and be able to talk to all my good friends and the press about something besides when you and Kevin going to get this thing done. We have and we're both looking forward to it. It's a great opportunity for RCR to have a driver like Kevin and have sponsors like we have - GM Goodwrench, Chevy Monte Carlo. Those Chevys did a great job for us over the years and I'd just like to thank all of them and we're excited about moving forward."
HARVICK: "Obviously there's been a lot of speculation and a lot of things that have been speculated and talked about over the past few months. Richard and I have pretty much been on the same page the whole time and talked about where we wanted to see things go and talked about where we thought we were going. I'm excited. I feel really comfortable with where everything is at and where everything is headed. The best part about everything is we have two great teammates. Clint (Bowyer) is one of my best friends and Jeff (Burton) is becoming a good friend and somebody that brings a great perspective of things going forward and helps making you look in the mirror every once in a while and see how you should handle things. It's a great mix of people. The crew chiefs get along great and that's something I don't think a lot of teams have. We have that communication and work together well right now. I'm looking forward to the next few years and hopefully we can win some championships and races and do all the things we want to do. I'm really excited."
PREVIOUSLY YOU SAID IT WASN'T ABOUT MONEY, IT'S ABOUT BEING ABLE TO WIN. WHEN DID THAT SITUATION TURN THE CORNER AND WAS IT ONE SPECIFIC THING? HARVICK - "Last year we started building new cars. Probably the end of October we really, really saw the gains. We went to Homestead with our '06 cars. We put them on the race track and they were four-tenths better than our '05 cars. When you can see all this stuff start to come together and you see all the things that are in the works and you know all the stuff that is going on behind the scenes, I think it's just a matter of time before it all starts to take effect. Richard went out and changed a lot of things. We changed the whole 07 team. We put Clint in there and brought Scott (Miller, crew chief for Jeff Burton) in with Jeff. Scott and Todd (Berrier, crew chief for Kevin Harvick) and Gill (Martin, crew chief for Clint Bowyer), they all get along really good. It's not really just one thing. It's been a lot of things that have been put into play and really helped the 29 team and helped the organization and helped everybody come together as one to try to fight one battle instead of fight against each other."
HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP?
HARVICK: "I go to the race track right now thinking we can win every week. It's been a while; it's been since 2003, that I had that feeling. Going into the race tonight I feel like we can have a chance at winning both races. It's been that way since the season started. We didn't really know how good things were going to be, how bad they were going to be. We felt we were better. We felt we were moving forward and making progress. When the green flag dropped in Daytona, things were good. We still don't feel like we're 100 percent where we need to be but we feel like we've made a lot of strides to be competitive. Unless something changes in the next few weeks, I feel like we can contend to do that next year."
ON KEVIN HARVICK AS A DRIVER: CHILDRESS - "He's a great driver. I like his attitude. I like his style. He's great with sponsors. It's a great combination. You have to have the drive to want to win a championship. You can go so far but you've got to have that final drive and Kevin has it. We've added some engineers. We've got Mike Dillon now who communicates a lot more and can spend more time with the drivers than I was and I think that's been a big plus because with the responsibilities that I have today with sponsors and just behind-the-scene things, Mike Dillon has stepped in. He's there where I used to be and giving it a lot more attention. I think those are some of the things that's really been impacted. We've done a lot in our engine shop. Like Kevin just said earlier, if we keep things going it's going to better. I think the best is yet to come for what we can do."
WHAT ARE THE DETAILS OF THE AGREEMENT? HOW NICE IS IT TO HAVE THIS DEAL DONE? HARVICK - "It's for three years and it's the standard stuff that we've done over the past seven years. Going forward it's what we talked about a few weeks ago when we said let's do this thing, get it over with and get back to racing instead of having to answer all the wrong questions. We took our time and made sure that that's what we both wanted to do. Both of us were happy. I think both of us really had to sit down and think and make sure that everything was where we wanted it to be. When you look back at it and look at everything and say 'Man, everything is in place. We've got Todd who is the crew chief and has been my crew chief since 2000. Those are the types of things that you can't replace. You can't replace history. You can't replace relationships that you've built over the years. Those are the types of things that championship teams have that have been together for years not months. Those are things that we have."
CHILDRESS: "I also think that what it does by having a long term relationship, it helps your sponsors. It helps everybody in your organization know that hey, this is our guy and we're going to get behind him and push him all the way and be right there with him to win. That's a positive of having it behind us."
WAS IT TOUGH NOT TO LET THIS BECOME A DISTRACTION? HARVICK - "I really think we were pretty much on the same page through the whole time. There was obviously a lot of speculation of what had already happened, what was going to happen, what was going on. We pretty much knew where we were with each other the whole time. It was just a matter of making sure everybody had everything where they wanted it to be and we felt like that's what we needed to do to make the best scenario for both us. That's what I wanted - to make sure that everybody was pulling together in the same direction as a group."
DID KEVIN'S RECENT SUCCESS HELP MOVE THIS ALONG? ARE YOU GOING TO GO ON ANOTHER SAFARI SOON? CHILDRESS - "I've been in this business 40 plus years to tell my age and when you're winning everything is good and nothing is sweeter than winning and being competitive week in and week out.
"If you're competitive week in and week out, you're going to win your share of races. I guess that was part of the deal. I've got to leave here again pretty soon for another safari."
HOW MUCH CAN YOUR ON-TRACK PERFORMANCE IMPROVE NOW?
HARVICK: "The biggest thing is that I've been able to stay focused. I have a pretty tight relationship with my guys and my team and everybody understands. It's going to take a lot of heat off the guys in the marketing department and the guys who don't get to come to the race track and the people that don't get to be here week in and week out. When we get to the race track, there was always the same questions over and over. And I get aggravated pretty easily. You had to make sure you stayed focused on what you were there to do and everything else would work itself out. I just kept telling myself that everything would work itself like it should without having to do a whole lot of work ourselves. Everything works itself out for a reason and I think that's what this situation did."
ON JEFF BURTON'S INFLUENCE WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION, TODD BERRIER'S POSITION AS CREW CHIEF, AND THE GROUP AS A WHOLE:
HARVICK: "I think Todd's status is pretty stable. Jeff has helped a lot. He brings a very correct manner of how you're supposed to handle things and a very professional manner of how you're supposed to handle things with a sponsor and how you're supposed to handle things in the shop. I still can't 100% do that. When you have that in front of you and you can see how you should do things and handle things and what you should say and when you shouldn't say something, I think it kind of bleeds over to everybody else. The mixture of teammates is right. Clint (Bowyer) is one of my best friends. Like I say, Jeff brings a lot to the table when it comes to being a professional and he can flat-out drive a race car, too. So all three teams help each other. Everybody gets along and that's hard to find when you have three teams. We've had it the opposite way in the past."
ON LOYALTY RATHER THAN MONEY TO STAY WITH RCR
HARVICK: "I have a lot of friends at RCR. It was more than just about the bottom line. There are a lot of things that can influence you to do things the other way and we tried to stay focused on the performance side of things to make sure everybody was headed in the right direction. That was the hardest decision not to make on the loyalty side.
"That was the easiest decision to make because I knew where my loyalty was. I knew who my friends were and I knew who the people were that stood behind me. The main thing I wanted to make sure is that I understood where he was coming from and that he understood where I was coming from. And I really feel like, through the whole process, that we both knew where each other stood. So sure, I think loyalty had a big part to do with it. You just can't build what we have overnight."
DOES YOUR THREE-YEAR DEAL ALSO INCLUDE AN EXTENSION WITH GM ON YOUR BUSCH AND TRUCK PROGRAMS? WHAT DOES THE IMPACT OF TOYOTA MEAN WITH ALL THIS?
HARVICK: "GM has been a very big part of making everything go forward. They've supported obviously everything we've done on the Cup side and everything on the Busch side and we'll continue to have the Busch teams at both shops. I can't tell you what we're going to do with the Truck (program) because I don't know.
"I think the impact (of Toyota) is not going to be what it was in the Truck series. This is not truck racing and it's going to be a little bit different than what it is in the trucks."
WHEN DID YOU REALLY REALIZE YOU NEEDED TO STEP UP THE PERFORMANCE AT RCR?
CHILDRESS: "We kept working and working in different directions to try to get it better. I guess when it really hit me was when I went down in the engine shop in the winter of 2004. I could see some things. I knew then that we had to get back there. Everybody has put a huge effort in since then to make it better. I think the best is yet to come. I'm excited about some of the things I know we have going on. The Car of Tomorrow, we're really working hard on trying to put our plans together. We've got everyone working hard there. We've stepped up our licensing department with Mike Brown and our whole deal. We stepped up our whole complete front office. So we've got a lot of good things going on at RCR. We've done a lot on our engine shop and our fab shop. Those are the kinds of things where you've got to get everybody on the same page. When you get a little weak, you've got to work to get strong."
ON ANY TOYOTA OFFERINGS:
HARVICK: "The biggest thing was that I wanted to know where I stood as a person and a competitor and just understand what I was up against or what we were up against. And I think I have a pretty good understanding of where we are and what we have. There were a lot of other things out there that could have been entertained, but it wasn't something that ever went very far."
ON TOYOTA ENTERING THE SERIES:
CHILDRESS: "Anytime anyone starts a new team up, they have to go out and try to hire people and Toyota's job is to go do that. I'm sure they'll come up with a lot of people. A lot of times that runs the cost up on the car owners and truck owners and plus the Busch owners. It wouldn't matter if it was Toyota or a new team coming in, it always happens the same. I think NASCAR will try to keep the field a lot more level. If a few things happen in the engine area with all four manufacturers I think it could even everybody up a lot more. The Car of Tomorrow surely will even some things. Then it's going to come down to drivers and people and communication. That's what we worked so hard on is to get our communication together at RCR from the top level to all the way down. That's what it is going to take to win and win championships."