Winston No Bull 5 Breakfast Club Talladega Superspeedway Team Monte Carlo's Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet has qualified for the final Winston No Bull 5 event of the year. Jeff Campbell of Pevely, Mo. Is paired with Harvick.
Winston No Bull 5 Breakfast Club Talladega Superspeedway
Team Monte Carlo's Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet has qualified for the final Winston No Bull 5 event of the year.
Jeff Campbell of Pevely, Mo. Is paired with Harvick. Harvick is the only NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver in Winston No Bull 5 history to qualify for two Winston No Bull 5 starts in his rookie season. He also competed for the million-dollar bonus at Richmond.
The following are highlights of Q&A's with Harvick in the media center at Talladega on Saturday morning:
Have the pressures of being in the spotlight been an eye-opener for you? "I think it's forced me to learn a lot about situations. Usually when you go through a year as a rookie in one division, you're not racing for a championship in another division. Everything we've done has been magnified by ten. That hasn't been a bad thing, it's really forced me to learn when to say something and when not to say something. I've said something when I shouldn't have said something. But this has made me a better person in the long run. It hasn't been a bad thing, it's just helped me a lot."
Have you learned where the line is between being responsible and being aggressive? "You have to push the envelope to find out where that line is. I think I've definitely pushed it a few times to see where it was. You can't be as good as you are until you know when you're going to fall off the cliff. I am definitely one that is going to push it. If we get to a point where I need to start pushing it a little more to see if I can get away with something else, I'll do that. Every once in a while you've got to push the envelope and you're going to get slapped on the hands."
How do you feel when others say you're trying to be like Dale Earnhardt? "That really irks me. I think that's almost a jealousy statement; and I think it's very disrespectful of our situation. None of us asked to be in this situation. And we'd all trade the situation to be back to where we were. It really irks me that it's even said. If anybody really knew how I raced - this is the guy that didn't want to change the number plates on his go-kart because they had tire marks on them. I thought that was cool. But I've been an aggressive racer from the time I raced big wheels in my backyard. That's just how I was taught to race.
"For our last instance (with Bobby Hamilton in Martinsville, I thought it was the worst use of words and professionalism that I've seen since we've been involved in this situation this year."
Did comparing you with Dale Earnhardt start as a compliment and then change somewhere along the way? "I think it started with Bobby Hamilton last week. For the most part, I think emotions were flying high. He said last night that he wished it would just go to the history channel. That's a good place because not only did he disrespect what I've done and our race team, but he disrespected the Earnhardt family by comparing to somebody that's not even here. And that's not fair."
Do you think you were selected because you're like that rather than because you're trying to be like that? "Heck, that was the reason why I got the job. It was because I drove hard and drove hard every lap. Dale was the one who really wanted to hire us. It's just an easy way out when you see somebody new coming in. That's a poor excuse."
What about your position with the older drivers that say this rookie is shoving on us? "If they're going to shove on me, I'm going to shove back. I don't care if they've been here for 30 years or 20 years or five minutes. If they're going to push, then they need to expect to be pushed back."
As a rookie, do you feel like there is some kind of apprenticeship that you need to serve? "I agree that you need to spend your time doing the things that everybody else has done. I respect the fact that I am a rookie and have some things to learn. But I don't think I should have to change the way I race. I think I should have to learn my lessons as I make the mistakes racing the way I've always raced. We're all out there for the same reason and we're all out there trying to win the race. We should all race hard, but whether there is a yellow stripe on the back of the car or not shouldn't mean anything."
Not too long ago, you were racing for $5,000 or $10,000. What would it mean for you to win a million dollars? "We were talking about that earlier. Jeff Campbell (paired fan) said he could probably use a million dollars and I said I could probably use it too. It would be pretty cool. This is a great program that Winston has put together. It's a way for people to have the opportunity to be involved in our sport. But to be right in the middle of it and have a chance to win a million dollars is a pretty neat deal."
At Martinsville, was NASCAR's penalty a 'don't to that again' type call? "I think so. But that's not going to happen. I wouldn't change a thing about the situation. When Bobby Hamilton got in there and spun his car out, it's not my fault. There are pictures that show you how sideways the No. 29 car was and if you go back and watch the tape of the hit on the No. 55, it wasn't near as hard as the hit on the No. 29."
Do you get the idea that they're trying to settle you down a little bit? "Well, let me tell you what happened last week. I've been in situations this year where I've gotten pretty wound up. They were really expecting me to be wound up about the call because obviously we were racing for the lead. They sent a NASCAR official over and I was sitting in the car just as calm as I could be. They got on the radio and we're telling me, 'Calm down, calm down'. I was a calm as you could get. I don't know if they were tying to get me mad or what, but I was pretty relaxed."
Even though you're a rookie, you can't just go out there and take a Sunday ride. Do you think you have to set it up for the other drivers to respect you? "Usually the way they feel about you (a rookie) is that he shouldn't be around me, he shouldn't touch me, he shouldn't hit me, and he shouldn't even be able to park in the same garage. And that's not fair. You can't just let them push you around because these guys are smart and they understand how to race. If they know that they can push you around, they're going to push you around every time. You've got to kind of put your guard up. You're setting up your fan base in your first year, but you're also setting up your base for how you're going to be treated in your car."
On how Richard Childress supports him "Last week I think we both thought we were right. When I'm at least 50 percent right, he'll stand behind me. In Kansas City, he wasn't too happy with me and so we learned from that situation. He'll stick up for me but he'll also pull me aside and tell me not to do something anymore. Last week, I still don't feel that we did anything wrong.
"Richard has helped me more than anybody can imagine. He's helped me though situations with the media and the people around. Whether it's on or off the race track, he's been through everything you can imagine. Good, bad, or indifferent - he understands it."
Despite all the obstacles, how do you feel about making it work overall? "If there's one thing that I've learned out of this year, it's to pick and choose our fights. If theirs is something that I absolutely disagree with, then say something. But if it's questionable, keep your mouth shut. I really think it's better to choose four or five things during the year that you really feel firm on, rather than every single thing that's turned against you. If you just pick four or five battles, you have a better chance of being heard. And you won't get the reputation of whining or complaining about every thing that comes along. We want to be feisty, but we don't want to moan about everything. Richard Childress and the team already know that. But I've had to learn that by seeing myself on TV or in the press and realize that it's not worth it."
How much are you looking forward to December? "I'm ready. I'm ready to go to Loudon and get it over with. Obviously, once we get to Homestead, everything will slow down a little bit. We'll be back to one car. We'll just be ready to relax for a couple of months and do some things we haven't been able to do. We'll probably just take a month off and go to Florida."
Will you and Delana go on your honeymoon? "I don't think she wants to stay at home because we've been gone all year. She doesn't want to go anywhere. Maybe we'll take our honeymoon next year.