KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed how being an owner changes his perspective as a driver, Tony Stewart driving his Nationwide car this weekend, his stop at the Shell...
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed how being an owner changes his perspective as a driver, Tony Stewart driving his Nationwide car this weekend, his stop at the Shell Houston Open and much more.
TWO GOOD WEEKS AT THE SHORT TRACKS IN THE NATIONWIDE AND TRUCK SERIES, NOT AS GOOD IN THE CUP CAR ARE YOU EXCITED TO COME TO A SUPERSPEEDWAY? "I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Obviously things went well outside the Cup car. Makes you a little bit frustrated with the finishes on the Cup program but I don't think we ran horribly. Just one of those deals."
DID YOU DO SOMETHING NICE FOR EVERYBODY AFTER THE NATIONWIDE WIN OR DID YOU WAIT TO SEE IF SOMETHING WOULD HAPPEN WITH THE TRUCK TOO? "(Laughing) We really didn't have time to go from one to the other. It was a brand new truck that we ran in Martinsville. So the same guys were trying to get that ready. We had so much going on that all the victory lunches and things will be in the next couple of weeks."
SO YOU PLAN ON JUST GENERAL FAMILY TIME KIND OF STUFF YOU DO WITH THEM? "Yeah, we do lunches for every win. So that's obviously pretty cool for me to get my first win in the car. It's not the first win for the company in general but to get that out of the way felt really good."
ARE YOU LETTING THAT NATIONWIDE WIN KEEP YOU MOTIVATED OVER HERE AS WELL? "Yeah, obviously I think things have gone well over here. We've made some mistakes for the most part with an oil filter falling off in California. Obviously Bristol didn't go very well with no practice time or anything like that. There are some things to get straightened out. Obviously from a driver's perspective you know you can make it happen against the same guys that you race on Sunday."
AS YOU'VE GOTTEN MORE AND MORE INVOLVED THE LAST FEW YEARS AS AN OWNER IN THE TRUCKS AND THE NATIONWIDE HAS IT CHANGED YOUR PERSPECTIVE ANY JUST AS A DRIVER HERE ON THE CUP SIDE? "I think it opens your eyes to a whole lot of things that you wouldn't necessarily see if you were just driving. From a politics perspective I think you see things that you don't normally see and you realize how hard it is to make certain things happen. It has changed the way you look at some things."
AFTER A ROUGH BEGINNING HERE, HOW HAS THIS TRACK COME TO BE RECEIVED BY THE DRIVERS? "I think any time you see effort from a race track in general, I think the guys here have done a great job. Whether it's fixing the race track or fixing a bathroom it's something that they've fixed everything in between. Any time there is a problem they want to know about it and they address it usually before you come back the next time. Any time you see that kind of effort you want to be a part of something. Obviously this is a big market for our sponsors and fans and it's always a big turn out."
IS THAT EVEN MORE OF A BIG MARKET FOR THE SPONSORS AND THE FANS WITH THE ECONOMY THE WAY IT IS RIGHT NOW? "I think this is going to be a big market in a down economy or an up economy. This is a big event for us being that it's in Shell's backyard. I wish it was on a different weekend than the Shell Houston Open but all in all this is a big market for us."
IN A BIG OPERATION LIKE RCR WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN AS SOME OF THE EFFECTS OF THE ECONOMY RIGHT NOW? "It's pretty simple, self-explanatory. It's no different than what everyday people see. You see the same things. Sponsors are hard to find. The house payment is hard to pay. It's the same types of things just in a different environment."
ARE YOU GUYS STARTING TO FEEL ANY OF THE EFFECTS OF THE FOURTH TEAM BEING ADDED TO RCR THIS YEAR? "I don't think so."
GOOD OR BAD? "I don't think it's really brought anything to the table yet. I think it will as they get that solid foundation of the group coming together. I think Casey (Mears) is a great person. Obviously Gil (Martin, No. 07 crew chief) has been there for a long time. I think the No. 33 team is running well enough where everybody can look at that and say this is something that we need to look at. So I think there are a lot of different ways you can look at it but I don't think it's really changed the day-to-day approach that we have."
IS TURN ONE SOMETHING THAT ON YOUR FIRST LAPS OUT THERE YOU GO CHECK OUT AND SEE WHAT'S HAPPENED OVER THE WINTER AND CHECK OUT THOSE BUMPS? "You know with an hour and a half practice you really don't have a whole lot of time to check anything out. I think the bumps have pretty much stabilized. Obviously the Nationwide cars had a lot of grip yesterday. This tire has even more grip than that tire so you just go out there and go as hard as you can on the first lap. Been here enough times you should know what is going on."
WHAT ABOUT SMOKE (TONY STEWART) DRIVING YOUR NATIONWIDE CAR THIS WEEKEND, ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT THAT? "Yeah, it's exciting. To have him come in and drive it is a lot of fun. He's kind of the reason that the whole program got started. So to have him come and drive the car again is a lot of fun for us to spend some time together and just kind of relax in an atmosphere we're just having fun with."
HE'S PICKED ON YOU A LITTLE BIT FOR HIS RECORD IN THAT RACE CAR VERSES YOURS. "(Laughing) He's got to remember I won last week so he's got a lot to live up to this week."
IF HE WRECKS YOUR CAR DOES HE PAY FOR IT? "Yeah right (laughing). That would be like me wrecking one of his dirt cars."
WHICH YOU WOULD BE HAPPY TO DO? "Yeah."
WITH ALL THE PROBLEMS IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU FOLLOW CLOSELY OR ARE YOU NOT ABLE TO WITH EVERYTHING THAT YOU'RE INVOLVED IN? "I think Chevrolet and the teams are in contact and just kind of knowing where everybody's at. I think they have a great plan going forward and I've said this before I think they'll be stronger going forward than they have been in the past. It's no different than any business in the world. You have down times and you have up times and good partners ride through those down times together with you."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE WORK YOU DID FOR SHELL THIS WEEKEND AS FAR DOING THE RIBBON CUTTING FOR THE PLAYGROUND AND THEN YOUR GUYS ALSO PLAYED IN THE PRO-AM TOURNAMENT? "We did what they call a SPARK program here. Texas doesn't fund any of the playgrounds in the public communities so basically SPARK comes in and Shell was a big contributor to this particular playground. They donated around $100,000 just for this particular playground and that doesn't even scratch the surface. Through the golf tournament over the years that they've been involved with the gold tournament they've raised around $45 million dollars for the local community. Whether it's a boys and girls club or a golf tournament or just being responsible on the Pennzoil side and learning how to teach people to recycle their oil correctly it's something Shell is a big part of. They get a lot of grief sometimes about being a big oil company but sometimes they don't get enough credit for the small things they do throughout the communities and the time that they spend making sure that they're welcome within those communities."
IS THERE A DIFFERENT FEEL TO YOU APPEARING IN A GOLF MEDIA CENTER AS OPPOSED TO A RCING MEDIA CENTER? "Yeah, you know I'm not a huge golfer but obviously everybody there was very receptive to having us there. In the end it's still a sporting event and still a lot of competitors that want to win or lose that are interested in your world. You know you're a little bit curious about their world. Definitely something that was different for me but it's always different to see how other sports do things."
THEY SAID THAT THEY DID US A FAVOR BY NOT PUTTING YOU IN TO PLAY, IS IT JUST NOT YOUR THING? "Yeah, it's just not my thing."
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD DO? "It's not pretty. It's ugly."
YOU HAVE DONE SOME THINGS TO HELP OUT MORGAN SHEPHERD, WHAT IS IT ABOUT HIM THAT MAKES YOU WANT TO HELP KEEP HIM IN A CAR? "I think Morgan has obviously been a part of this sport that some people forget. Myself and (Tony) Stewart have kind of made sure that his team can function this year with decent cars and tires and motors and things like that. For the most part I think he's just a good person that's been successful in this sport."
WHAT DOES IT ADD TO HAVE HIM STILL IN A CAR? "It's Morgan Shepherd. Go back and look at the record books."
HAS HE TAUGHT YOU HOW TO ROLLER SKATE YET? "That's about like golf. I don't think that's going to happen."
HOW DO YOU GAUGE COMPETITION FROM THE DRIVERS SEAT? LEAD CHANGES ARE DOWN THROUGH THE FIRST SIX RACES THIS YEAR, HOW DO YOU SEE THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION OUT THERE FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW? "I don't know. I haven't gone back and watched any of the races to tell you the truth. I just pay attention to what we're doing and obviously we're not on that dominating side of it. We just look at what we're doing. Martinsville is tough place to pass in general and Bristol has become kind of the same way. I hadn't really looked at the stats so I don't really have a good answer for that."
SOMEBODY WAS SUGGESTING THAT STILL WITH THIS CAR ITS EASY FOR ONE GUY JUST TO HIT IT AND EVERYBODY ELSE STILL NOT BE ABLE TO HIT, CAN YOU EXPLAIN IT? "I think that's a very fair statement. The biggest reason that happens is because the car is still hard to get exactly perfect and when one guy hits it perfect it results in those types of races. Everything is affected by such minute changes that you can get off so easily and that's the reason that guys hit it and guys don't. Most of the time guys don't hit it."
ERNIE COPE IS TOO HUMBLE TO TALK ABOUT HIMSELF, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT MAKES HIM A SUCCESSFUL CREW CHIEF? "Well Ernie is just really good with the cars. From a mechanical standpoint I think he just really understands the cars. From the Nationwide side of it that's what we really needed and we saw that last year in the Truck Series and that's why we kind of promoted him through the company up into the Nationwide cars. That's what I've always felt that we needed. I didn't feel like we needed a huge people person or strategic person we just needed somebody to make sure the cars were perfect week in and week out. So far they've done a good job with that."
-credit: gm racing