Richmond II: Harvick - Friday media visit

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS met with media and discussed his recent consistency with top finishes, changes to the new race car, mentality in going in to the Chase, new Nationwide car and other subjects. Is it time for you to...

KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS met with media and discussed his recent consistency with top finishes, changes to the new race car, mentality in going in to the Chase, new Nationwide car and other subjects.

Is it time for you to start thinking about Kevin Harvick breaks loose, like in '06? "I think we've definitely run well in the last three months and feel like we've had a top five car at 90 percent of those races. We're running pretty good right now."

Could you suddenly have a two or three-win streak going? "Yeah, I think everything has gone so well in the past few months, with a few circumstances here or there, that everything falls into place. We've just got to keep that going and not make any mistakes and see what happens."

What is it about the cars that have gotten better that have made you more confident? "It would be easier to tell you what wasn't changed than what has changed. At Chicago, we started all over (and changed) everything from the bump stops to the chassis to the body and everything in between. Everything is just different. We found a really good car that we feel really comfortable with and have made a lot of ground with that car and have since built three more and hopefully they are as good."

Q. is the feel of it seriously different than before? "I don't know. We've run in the top five for about the last three months and ran about 20th three months before that. So, yeah. I think it's just more comfortable."

Q. A lot of people are kind of viewing this right now as Jimmie and Kyle and Carl and they're a group in themselves. Is that giving short shrift to everybody else in the Chase and not giving you guys enough credit?

KEVIN HARVICK: I don't know, we'll find out.

Q. You're pretty well locked into this thing, even though, yeah, you race as hard as you can every week. Isn't this one of those times where you can say, okay, let's really go out there and go for broke, win or else?

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I mean, this is a week to try to gain ten bonus points and that's really the only thing that can be gained or lost from this particular week. So it's a low-pressure week. There's nothing to lose. There's ten points to gain, and that's really the only thing that we have to do.

I think for us it's just go out and try to win the race.

Q. How frustrating has it been and is it to you to be running so well, be this solid in the points?

KEVIN HARVICK: It doesn't bother me. I've been around this stuff long enough to know that you go through times when you -- if you're running in the Top 5 and running in the Top 10, the wins come as they're meant to come, and there's nothing that you can really force to do, and that's the good part about this team is they're experienced enough to the point where they can -- they know when the highs are high and the lows are low, and we're kind of even-keel about it. You kind of take that experience and don't let those types of things bother you.

It's just like when we left Indianapolis we were outside the Chase, and you know you're running good and you just go about your business and do your things and let your experience take it from there.

Q. Will you take a really different car than you took there the first time do you think?

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, it won't be anything like what we -- it'll probably be more similar, but it won't be the same, more similar than a lot of the places that we've gone lately. But we ran in the Top 5 all day at New Hampshire last time, and then it rained and everybody stayed out. We're looking forward to it.

Q. NASCAR announced this week that the new Nationwide car won't debut until 2010.

KEVIN HARVICK: That's old news. I've known that for three months.

Q. Well, they never confirmed it until this week.


Q. Were you in favor of it when they told you three months ago that they weren't planning on --

KEVIN HARVICK:  We'll continue to evaluate our program, and right now
we're going to run next year.  I think we'll see how it goes from there.

Q. Do you have anything testing here Monday and Tuesday this week?

KEVIN HARVICK: That's manufacturer tests. I think there's six cars, and RCR has built a car but it'll be representing General Motors.

Q. Because this race has become kind of off point, do you feel a sense of urgency around here? Has this race maybe become bigger and more of a focal point than any other race in the Chase?

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I think there's a lot of things happening at this point in the year. There's a lot of guys racing for 35th, there's guys racing for 12th, there's guys racing for bonus points. There's just so much happening at this point in the year, and I think that's what the Chase has added to make our sport exciting. There's a lot of things that people can talk about that you normally wouldn't have gotten to talk about.

It's an exciting part of the year, and this is obviously -- I think I heard Doug Fritz say the other day, the Chase isn't what made Richmond, but it's made Richmond more exciting.

Q.  With your recent run of success, Top 5s and Top 10s, you haven't been
able to lead as many laps.  Has that become a concern?

KEVIN HARVICK: That's been the MO of everything we've always done. If you go back and look at my career, we're always closers and don't lead a bunch of laps.

Q. What's it like to come here locked in?

KEVIN HARVICK: Start the race and we're locked in, but -- it's miserable. It's a miserable week leading up to this because you think of all the things that can go wrong and all the things that can happen and you know it's easy to get swept up in somebody else's mess. You know you want to come into this event doing all you can do and try to do the best that you can, but in the back of your mind you're thinking about all those things that could happen. So it's something that's -- you know, it's a tense week.

This is a tense time of year. Really, the last six weeks are just tense. It's just -- walking around the garage, you can just kind of feel the guys that you're parked around that are racing for a Chase spot. It's just a different atmosphere. You've got to step up, and you know going into Loudon next week you've got to find another gear, and if you're going to win the championship to make it happen.

Q. Do you have big concerns about whether if it is raining all day tomorrow --

KEVIN HARVICK: It's going to rain all day tomorrow. That's why we concentrated on what we did today, and in my opinion these will be the conditions that we'll race in.

Q. You've always said you thrive on controversy. Do you look at the Kyle versus Carl situation now and kind of think, God, I wish I was in something like that, especially with a Busch involved in one end of it?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think the true colors of some people show in situations, and I've always told people that you're not judged off of what you do in five races, you're judged off of what you do in five years. In those particular instances, it's fun to be in controversy, but it's -- it's fun to be in controversy over things that are meaningful, and I think the Bristol incident, you kind of saw the true colors of some of them.

Q. Of some of them. Would you care to elaborate and analyze?

KEVIN HARVICK: You watched the race.

Q. Well, the thing about it is, though, up until a year or two ago, it was considered normal at Bristol to move somebody to win a race, and then all of a sudden when Carl does it --

KEVIN HARVICK: I think you've seen the 18 move a lot of people, and I don't think what Carl did was -- it's not like he wrecked him or something, and to flip out as the guy did, I think it shows a little bit of weakness myself.

Q. Do you think that just maybe that your team is building momentum week after week after week, might you guys peak right in the middle of the Chase and make this a three-way dogfight, so to speak?

KEVIN HARVICK: At this point I don't think there's really any favorites. I think we've proven we can beat the 18 and the 99 week after week, and in my opinion the 48 is the car to beat right now. He's been the fastest car on the bigger racetracks and there's a lot more big racetracks than there are small racetracks in the Chase, and they've been good at Martinsville. So I think that the door is wide open to make something happen.

As far as I'm concerned, playing an underdog role is very -- a lot less stressful than having to answer all the questions.

Q. Do you think we give too much credit to that 80 points? Do we make too much out of that, a guy having 80 points and bonus points going into the thing?

KEVIN HARVICK: It's a whole lot easier to lose 80 points than it is to gain it, I know that for sure. With everything coming up, as hard as you're going to have to push to win the championship, there's going to be a small margin to make a mistake, and usually when it does, it costs you more than 80 points.

Q. Going back to you talked about -- you alluded to the big tracks in the Chase. Half of them are one-and-a-half-mile tracks. Why have the teams been having such a tough time getting their arms around the one-and-a-half-mile tracks?

KEVIN HARVICK: For us that's been our strengths, the bigger tracks, which is the opposite of what normally happens. Usually we're really stout on the short tracks. We've been good on the short tracks, but the mile-and-a-halfs lately have been our strengths.

Q. Why is that, do you know?

KEVIN HARVICK: We just don't have as much time on the bigger racetracks as we've had on the short tracks, and a lot of these mile-and-a-halfs are the first time we've gone to this year.

Q. Is it just that you've been lucky and you guys have been able to hit on it?

KEVIN HARVICK:  There isn't anything that happens for luck in this
garage.  Usually what makes them go faster is hard work.

Q. Do you think the two or three guys are going to be so high up in seeding this thing, might they be so caught up in each other that --

KEVIN HARVICK: That's what's great. That's what everybody is going to find out.

Q. Do you think that's possible or even likely they could be so caught up in each other that they wouldn't see 29 coming in their mirror?

KEVIN HARVICK: We don't want them to see anything coming.

Q. What's the biggest wild card of the Chase track-wise?

KEVIN HARVICK: Talladega is obviously a pretty big wild card. I'd say that's the biggest one.

Q. What's the one you dread the most?

KEVIN HARVICK: I don't dread any of them. I'm looking forward to all of them at this point.

Q. What type of a mental shift do you have to make when you go from the regular season to the Chase looking forward to New Hampshire?

KEVIN HARVICK: Take, take, take, give nothing.

Q. What's the margin of error in the Chase? Is it just so thin? There's almost a prevailing thought that maybe you could have one mulligan, but that's about it. Has that changed?

KEVIN HARVICK: If you can run like the 48 did the last couple times he's won the championship and reeled off all those Top 5s and wins, you can make a couple mistakes. But if you don't do that, then you're going to have to not make any mistakes

Q. Were you surprised how much Jimmie could pull away with the restarts last Sunday?

KEVIN HARVICK: I never saw him much. I saw him one time when he drove around me, and that was about it.

Q. He had great power against the Toyota.

KEVIN HARVICK: He was pretty fast.

Q. Going back to the 48, like he did last year, do you have to win races in the Chase now to win it?


Q. You have to get to victory lane?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think so.

Q. Are there more than those three top guys capable of getting to victory lane multiple times in the last ten races?

KEVIN HARVICK: I don't know, we'll find out.

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick