Kevin Harvick Wins at "Home" Track in California; Team Chevy Drivers Claim Three of Top-Five Finishing Positions and Five of Top-10 in the Final Order
Fontana, Calif (March 27, 2010) - Kevin Harvick got to sample the sweet taste of winning in his home state of California by scoring his first career victory at Auto Club Speedway. The Bakersfield native only led one lap in his No. 29 Jimmy John's Chevrolet, but it was the one that counted.
After starting 24th in the 43-car field of the Auto Club 400, Harvick methodically worked his way through the field to put himself in position for a dramatic last-lap pass of fellow Team Chevy driver Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet.
Scoring his 15th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) win moved Harvick six places up in the standings to ninth position.
Five time defending NSCS champion Johnson moved up two positions in the standings to fifth following his runner-up finish.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 US Army Chevrolet, continued his tremendous start to the 2011 NSCS season with a fifth place finish today in the 200-lap/400-mile race. After scoring three top-five and four top-10 finishes in the five races run so far this season, Newman is second in the point standings, just nine points down to the leader.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Centennial Celebration Chevrolet, finished seventh and advanced seven positions in the standings to 17th place.
Pole winner Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet, finished 10th in the final order and sits eighth in the standings.
Paul Menard, No. 27 Serta/.Menards Chevrolet, sits seventh in points after his 16th place finish today.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, suffered handling problems in the closing laps of the race and had to settle for the 13th finishing position after leading four times for 11 laps. The two-time NSCS champion is sixth in the point standings.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, finished 12th in today's race and sits 12th in points to give Team Chevy seven of the top-12 drivers in the standings.
Next on the Series' schedule is short track action at Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, Virginia on April 3, 2011.
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 JIMMY JOHNS CHEVROLET – RACE WINNER:
GIVE US THE RUNDOWN ON THE FINAL PASS ON THE LAST LAP:
"You know those guys (Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson) started racing and they got side-by-side and we were able to pull up in there. The more cycles that got on our tires, the better off we were. But I was really nervous about that last call staying out but it all worked out in our favor and we were able to make up ground. The guys on this Jimmy Johns Chevrolet did a great today. I just have to thank everybody from Budweiser, Rheem and Chevrolet for letting us put these cars on the track."
WHEN YOU ARE RACING AGAINST KYLE BUSCH AND JIMMIE JOHNSON, ANY ADDITIONAL PRESSURE OR HUNGER TO DO WHAT YOU JUST DID ON THE LAST LAP?
"Well, we had them all beat last year here and I gave it away. First off I just have to thank everybody at Jimmy Johns, I know they are pumped, Budweiser, Rheem, Chevrolet and Sprint and all these fans for coming out today. What a great day! All these guys did a great job on pit road and Gil (Martin, crew chief) made the right call. I was like, when I saw those guys pit at the end, 'I said man, we might be in deep trouble'. But, we held those guys off and our car just kept going."
YOU HAVE SAID THAT SEVERAL OF THE FIRST RACES YOU SHOULD HAVE CONTENDED FOR THE WIN AND DIDN'T, IS THIS REDEMPTION?
"Well, we have just had a lot of adversity that we have fought through. We knew our cars were fast enough to win races. We just haven't had the circumstances go right. We had a fast car and the circumstance played in our favor. And I have to say HI to my wife at home, love you."
WHO MAKES THE FINAL DECISION ON A CALL LIKE THAT? YOU OR YOUR CREW CHIEF GIL MARTIN? "Well, it all depends on what day it is I guess. I kind of knew our car was fairly good and Gil (Martin, crew chief) obviously knew we were better after the tires have air in them. It all worked out today."
DID THE CHANGE IN TODAY'S WEATHER THROW YOU GUYS A CURVE BALL AT ALL TODAY? "Not really. The track conditions stayed fairly consistent for us. I just want to thank all the fans for coming out here today and supporting us. To win at home, that is pretty cool."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET, FINISHED 2ND
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THAT RUN BETWEEN YOU AND HARVICK? "It reminded me of last year in the Spring race, you know. Just didn't hold him off that time. Those tires made the difference. I knew he was coming, they said he was coming. If I could have got by the No. 18 maybe a lap sooner that might have been enough to give him the margin I needed. Just way loose. I was driving my butt off just trying to keep this Lowe's Chevrolet up front but it didn't pan out. I hate losing it coming off of (turn) four like that but we did everything we could today. We had a great race. Made our car a lot better all day long so I'm really proud about that."
DID YOU GET IN THE FENCE? "Yeah there was one time off of (turn) two I was chasing the No. 18 and I got crossed up and smacked the fence. I was dead sideways all day. Even when I was tight I was still loose. Just glad it turned out to be a decent day."
ON HIS DAY:
"We had a great race today and I knew tires were coming. If I could have gotten by the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) a lap sooner maybe that would have made the difference and I would have had enough of a margin to hold off the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick, race winner) but he was rolling on the top. I did all that I could. I was dead-sideways. I think I hit the fence one time off of [turn] two chasing Kyle with the right rear first because it was sliding off the corner, Great day for the Lowe's Chevrolet. I just wish I could have won here at my home track."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 5TH
TALK ABOUT YOUR DAY. "We had some bad pit stops and they we under green fortunately at least one time I should say for sure I shouldn't say two. Tony Gibson made a great call staying out. Just really proud of the U.S. Army Chevrolet and everybody at Stewart-Hass Racing giving us the opportunity. Unfortunately Tony (Stewart) didn't get to finish the way he ran all day but as long as you finish you still get the points."
YOUR CAR GOT BETTER, TALK ABOUT STRATEGY TO TAKE TWO TIRES EARLY AND THEN DIDN'T STOP LATER IN THE RACE: "It was kind of all based off of what the guys did in front of us and where I wanted to be on the restart. The outside was definitely to my advantage today. I just want to thank all the fans for coming out. Good day for the US Army Chevrolet to get a top-five finish and in the points. Really strong start to our season. We're really proud of everyone at Stewart-Haas."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – Finished 12th:
“We ran up to 12th. We were faster than the No. 16 (Greg Biffle) and the No. 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) right there. We only had right-side tires; I think they did too. We were faster than both of them and faster than probably two or three more cars in front of them. So it’s hard to get there. Your car just don’t naturally drive right up through there in all this dirty air and guys racing you real hard on the outside and stuff; they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. It was fun but I’ve got to qualify better.”
HOW GOOD IS THIS TEAM RIGHT NOW?
“We’re a top 10 team. We’re doing pretty good. I like the consistency. That’s something I’ve never really had. This is the most consistent I’ve ever been in my whole career. So that’s a good thing. I think the team’s pretty good. I’ve got to do a better job helping them put a car on the track for qualifying that’s going to get us in the top 15 for qualifying. You’re really not helping yourself starting races in 30th. We have really good race cars and don’t want to be doing that.”
WHERE IS YOUR CONSISTENCY COMING FROM RIGHT NOW?
“Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and the team get all the credit for how well the cars drive and how well they improve throughout the race. He was able to improve on the car throughout the race and make the adjustments that we needed to get us up there and be competitive and beat the guys we need to be beating and that we need to be running with every week.”
DOES THAT HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE WAY THAT YOU GUYS COMMUNICATE AND LETARTE BEING ABLE TO FIX THE CAR AFTER YOU TELL HIM WHAT YOU NEED, RIGHT?
“Yeah. Well, I’m just trying to stay calm and be patient and I have a 100 percent confidence that he’s doing everything he can to help me. And the team is working really hard. I feel like they believed we can do well and improve throughout the year. That feels good. Everybody is believing in everybody. Everybody is confident that things are going to work out. The communication feels really good. Today, in the first half of the race, was the first time we made changes to the car all year that it didn’t do anything. And I don’t want to be repeating myself here but nothing’s working yet so just remember, we haven’t made it better or really touched on what we need to fix. And we tried a couple of other things and that steered him (Letarte) in a different direction and we found what we needed to find to help me with the car a little bit. It was just a little bit too late in the race to really get us a top 10 finish, but we had the car that was capable of doing that.”
WERE THE TIRES THE RIGHT CALL AT THE END?
“Yeah, we were running 12th when we pitted. Four (tires) were definitely not the right call. We saw that with the run before that. Those guys took four back there behind us and really couldn’t do much. Steve said Tony (Stewart) took no tires and was running well earlier in the race. I think our car was a little free. And so when we put two tires on it, that kind of did give me a little bit more of an adjustment that I was asking for all day. So that was the right call for us. I would have liked to know what we could have done staying out on used tires. But two tires was probably the right call.”
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 RONALD REGAN FOUNDATION’S CENTENNIAL CHEVROLET – FINISHED 7TH
“We had a solid top-10 finish today for the No. 33 Chevrolet. We had a car that could win in the end, but just got a little loose on that last restart. I'm proud of these guys for bouncing back from last week.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – FINISHED 10TH
"The Target Chevy was good on the short runs but got tight the longer we ran. Brian and the crew worked on the car all day and made some good calls. The goal was for a top-10 finish and that's what we got. I'm pretty
-source: team chevy