Talladega II: GM - Kevin Harvick interview

Today's NASCAR Winston Breakfast Club guest was Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Kevin finished second at Talladega in April. LOOKS LIKE YOU ONLY NEED TO PICK UP ONE MORE SPOT IN ORDER TO WIN THIS TIME...

Today's NASCAR Winston Breakfast Club guest was Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Kevin finished second at Talladega in April.

LOOKS LIKE YOU ONLY NEED TO PICK UP ONE MORE SPOT IN ORDER TO WIN THIS TIME AROUND "It's going to be more than one this time around. We didn't qualify very good yesterday (30th) but we're just trying to figure out the new combination of the restrictor plate and the spoiler and everything. It's a little bit different for our car for some reason. We had the other package completely figured out and this time there's a small monkey wrench that's been thrown in. One spot better would be fine with me and I think come Sunday, we'll be fine."

DID YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO TEST HERE WITH THE NEW RESTRICTOR PLATE? "No, we've been out of tests since about June. It's been nice for me to not have to go test. But John Andretti came and tested the No. 90 car here."

DID YESTERDAY'S INSPECTION SURPRISE YOU? "It surprised me more after qualifying than it did before qualifying. With the restrictor plate stuff, there are so many templates and so many small things that you can do to make your car a tenth or two better, that they have to take that long process and go through everything with a fine-toothed comb. It is just part of the process. I'm glad to see them going through everything and making sure that everything is as fair as possible."

ON THE YELLOW LINE RULE AND THE YELLOW FLAG RULE "I don't know how they're going to score 43 cars that are three-wide and decide who's in front of whom. They have told us from the beginning that it's going to be kind of a working process. We'll just have to play it by ear. A lot of it is going to depend on us, I guess, playing fair - which doesn't happen very often. It's one of those deals where if it's not toward the end of the race, it's not that big of a deal because you're going to get shuffled around anyway.

"On the yellow line rule, I treat the yellow line as a wall. I can't control what happens with everybody else and the balls and strikes calls just happen the way that they see it. We'll just have to play our own game and see how it shakes out."

WITH WHAT HAPPENED IN YESTERDAY'S INSPECTION PROCESS, DO YOU THINK EVERYONE IS GETTING A FAIR SHAKE? "I think so. There's a lot at stake for the inspection line not to be fair. There are too many millions of dollars being spent in the garage for one car to be favored. I don't know that it's worth risking all that on NASCAR's part. So I don't think that's happening. It's pretty cut and dried in the inspection line as far as what you can and can't do. There's a gauge that goes up underneath each template. It either fits or it doesn't. And the height sticks are red, yellow, or green. If it's red, it's red. That's pretty much it. I don't that's happening. If you look back, ever since DEI started they've had an awesome restrictor plate program. I think Tony Eury Sr. summed it up best yesterday on TV when he said, 'With superspeedway racing you've to get all you can get and we just tried to get a little bit too much.'"

ON GOODYEAR TIRES AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF TIRES TO THE TEAMS "Tony (Stewart) obviously had the best car last week (at Dover). But everybody gets a tire here or there that makes the car loose or tight. Nobody has found a way to figure out why those tires do that or what the problem is. It's one of those deals where it's just the luck of the draw. These tires are all made by hand and they're made by human beings. There are going to be some tires that have a problem and cause your car not to work right. Nobody knows why or understands why. I just like the fact that they understand there is a problem with some of them. I hate that it took Tony going out on a limb like that."

ON NEXT WEEK'S RACE AT KANSAS AND WHETHER THE TRACK HAS CHANGED "Kansas really hasn't changed. We took our Busch car out there and tested. It's still a bottom of the race track ride against the white line and the cars push real bad.

"They changed the right side tire and it's a little bit different that what we've raced in the past. We'll have to adjust to that and see where it goes from there. But the track still has a lot of grip."

YOU'VE MOVED UP TO THIRD IN THE MOST POPULAR DRIVER BALLOT AND YOU'VE ALSO BEEN TAGGED 'BAD BOY'. WHICH DO YOU PREFER? "Whatever they want to stick on me, if fine with me. I don't care. It's one of those things where if people like you, they like for who you are and what you do and how things go on the track or off the track. The people who don't like you just learn to hate you. That doesn't bother me. I've gone through life and had people not like me before. So I'm okay with that."

DO THE PEOPLE YOU RESPECT AND LIKE IN THE GARAGE AREA THE ONES WHO SPEAK OUT ABOUT HOW THEY FEEL ABOUT SOMETHING? "Yeah. To me, you should speak your mind and tell people what you think and how you feel about something. If you just clam up in a shell, your opinion is never going to be heard and your ideas are never going to be thought about. I've always been told to speak your opinion and if you don't, forever hold your peace. You're never going to be heard. It kind of bothers me that some people just collect a paycheck and not say anything about it. That's now very competitive in my opinion."

AS A DRIVER, HOW INVOLVED DO YOU GET IN THE TIRES THAT GO ON YOUR CAR?) "As involved as I get in the tire situation is suggesting air pressures to Todd (Berrier, crew chief). We have a process that we go through to match the tire spring rates and we just try to do it the same every week. Personally, we haven't had hardly any problems with the tires lately. We had a couple of bad tires at the beginning of the year and that was about it. We all gripe and complain because it may screw up a weekend or a race or a qualifying session or 20 minutes of practice or whatever. But when it boils down to it, there are a lot of tires being distributed in the garage. For the number of tires that are bad, it's not that high of a number."

HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALFIYING IN THIS ERA OF 2003? "Here's the deal. If you qualify 38th, you take more chances on strategy than you would if you qualify in the front. That's why you see a lot of guys win the races from that far back in the pack. We all try to qualify as good as we can. It's an important part of our weekend. Usually when you qualify good, you're going to have a good weekend. I know that's usually the case for us because notoriously we haven't been very good qualifiers. So we spend all day Friday worrying about qualifying and trying to make sure we get all we can out of it. If you can qualify on the pole or in the front, you have a better chance of getting five points for leading a lap or leading the most laps. Those bonus points are something a lot of people don't talk about at the end of the year. If you have 80, 90, or 100 bonus points and the other guy only has 40 and you beat him by 40 points, qualifying paid for itself because obviously you started in the front."

ON THE SUBJECT OF BAD TIRES AND GOODYEAR SAYING IT MIGHT BE THE FAULT OF THE TEAMS' SET-UPS. WHERE IS THE BLAME? "Well, that does bother me. That bothers me a lot. At some point there has to be some blame taken on their shoulders. It can't always be the teams' fault. There are bad tires that come out of the company no matter what they say. They can blame it on whomever they want. But there has to be a bad tire every once in a while. That, to me, is not right. At some point you have to take a little bit of the blame. For the most part, the teams probably do more wrong than Goodyear. But when a cap flies off of a tire every once in a while there has to be an air pocket or something in the rubber. That does bother me a little bit but hey, there are a lot of things that bother me worse than that."

ON THE RESTRICTOR PLATE AND SPOILER CHANGES FOR THIS RACE "We're going to check everybody's blood pressure at NASCAR here in a little bit (Happy Hour) because those things are going to be fast. I think they went 190 mph in qualifying and they're going to get up and go.

"It's going to be interesting to see how much they really pull up and do what they intended them to do. It should be a lot of fun to see what happened here in a little bit."

ON MATT KENSETH'S PERFORMANCE THIS YEAR "I've heard a lot about the points and how big Matt's lead is and how the point system is screwed up. You can put it all into perspective if you just look at the point's chart. His worst finish has been 22nd at Martinsville. After that, he hasn't finished worse than 14th. There is nothing wrong with the point system for a guy who's had an incredible season. The guy has had a season where he's only not finished two laps - and we have eight races to go. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with the point system. There's nothing wrong with a guy going out and having a great season and only winning one race. Week in and week out, he's been at the front of the field in the top five or top ten. He's had a season that is pretty remarkable when you sit down and really look at it."

HAS BEING ON PROBATION RESTRICTED YOU ON THE TRACK OR IN THE GARAGE OR IN THINGS YOU SAY? "Not really. It's kind of like you go to jail and they let you out and you're on probation for a few weeks but you can still live your life. You can do the things that you always did. You just don't go out of your territory."

WOULD YOU FAVOR A CHANGE IN THE POINT SYSTEM THAT REWARDED MORE FOR A WIN? "Up to this point this year, we've scored two more points than Mark Martin had scored last year. There are just different types of seasons. Last year we had an incredible points race between Mark and Tony (Stewart). It came down to the last race and that was a great points race. This year, we've got a guy who hasn't had any trouble and he's running away with the points race. He's had no DNF's and has basically had a perfect season. And then you've got Ryan (Newman), who has won seven races and led a bunch of laps. But he's also had several DNF's. That's not a perfect season. I think you could even ask Ryan the same thing. He's had a great year and won a lot of races, but he hasn't had a perfect season.

"In order to win the championship, you should feel like you've had a perfect season. That should be your Winston Cup champion. Maybe you should get one or two points for sitting on the pole. But all in all, I think our system is great for consistency. It rewards the guy at the end of the year who had the best season, not the guy who won the most races."

WILL YOU HAVE A RCR DRAFTING MEETING ABOUT TEAMWORK? "We know what we need to do and how we need to do it. We're all starting around each other so we'll do all we can to get to the front."

-gm racing-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Kevin Harvick , Mark Martin