Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Budweiser Chevrolet, met with members of the media at Kentucky Speedway and discussed the recent struggles of the No. 29 Chevrolet team, running double duty this weekend and the challenges of practicing during the day; racing at night and other topics.
TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK FOR BOTH RACES THIS WEEKEND: “Last year we ran really well in the Nationwide car so I think as we go into tomorrow night’s race I think we look to be in contention to win. Probably one of our worst races last year from the Cup side so we have put a lot of effort into trying to be better. It’s going to be challenging with the weather and things that we have this weekend, but we will just go out and practice and see where we are. Start the weekend off by working hopefully in the right direction and see what happens we it rolls around race time both nights.”
I KNOW IT WAS IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT WHAT WAS SAID ON THE RADIO LAST WEEK ABOUT EVERYBODY LOSING THEIR JOBS…? “I never said that. I never said everybody. No, that is not what I said at all. I told them, I said that everybody needed to step up and do exactly what they need to do and I was tired of sitting in the seat and making up for mistakes. We have made a ton of mistakes this year. I said we were all going to lose our jobs if we all kept losing. I never pointed out anybody and said that I was going to fire them. I said we were all going to lose our jobs.”
WHEN THE YEAR STARTED OUT I REALLY THOUGHT THAT THIS WAS THE YEAR FOR KEVIN HARVICK AND I’M JUST WONDERING IF YOU COULD POINT TO A COUPLE OF PLACES…? “It’s mistakes. It’s mistakes from top to bottom. There is nothing to hide on the cars run fast enough to win races. The cars run fast enough to be in the top 10 and until the mistakes stop…stuff can’t fall off the car, you can’t run out of gas for the fifth time this year. It’s just flat out mistakes and those guys know that. I know that. It’s not something that we have set out and planned it’s just… and we talked about it very openly this week. This isn’t something that I’m getting defensive about or anything. It’s very obvious as to why this team hasn’t won a race. We are fortunate to be in the position that we are in points, but we can’t scramble. You can’t win a championship and you can’t win races on a week to week basis making the mistakes that we’ve made. We fixed the pit crew issues that we had at the beginning of the year.”
DID THAT HAPPEN LAST WEEKEND (PIT CREW ISSUES)? “No, we haven’t had any pit crew issues at all. You just cannot do the things that we’ve been doing and expect to win races in this garage. Everybody has to step up, myself included. On the way home and Monday you’ve got to figure out how you can lead and try to help fix the situation. That was the attitude that I went in Tuesday with was to try to help Richard (Childress) analyze and help Shane (Wilson, crew chief) analyze as to what he needed to do better to help his guys and my guys be better people on a week to week basis. They all can do the job it’s just a matter of crossing the ‘T’s’ and dotting the ‘I’s’ that is what it takes to win races in this garage. It’s tough enough to win, but when you are making the mistakes that we make it’s impossible.”
THE FUEL MILEAGE IS THAT SOMETHING THAT IS MORE EFI (ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECTION) RELATED THAT YOU GUYS ARE JUST TRYING TO GRASP UNDERSTANDING OR…? “It’s just flat out doing something that your car won’t do. They knew exactly how far the car would run on fuel and they tried to stretch it one more lap and we paid for it. That’s the bottom line. They tried to turn it into a two stop race, when we had planned on running a three stop race. It just bit us.”
RECENTLY TONY EURY JR. (DANICA PATRICK CREW CHIEF) SAID THAT HE FELT LIKE SOME OF THE COMPETITORS ON THE NATIONWIDE SIDE WERE RACING DANICA PATRICK A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE SHE WAS A WOMAN. SOME COULD ARGUE THAT ALL ROOKIES NOT JUST DANICA ARE SUBJECTED TO MAYBE A LITTLE BIT OF TOUGH LOVE FROM SOME OF THE VETERANS ON THE RACE TRACK, WHAT DO THOSE ROOKIES AND SPECIFICALLY DANICA HAVE TO DO TO EARN SOME RESPECT? “That is a tough spot to be in. I think you want to earn that respect and you want to go on the race track. I think in the position that she’s in with the group of cars that she’s racing around she is probably not racing around the guys that you would normally race around in the front on a particular weekend on an oval. I think when you race around some of those mid-pack cars they can be tough to pass and tough to feel like you are getting the respect that you need and you get run into a lot. If you race in the middle of the pack you are going to get run into and you are going to be frustrated. You are going to feel like that is the case. I think if you ran in the top five every week I don’t think that would be the case. I don’t think that is how they would feel. I think they would feel a lot better about it. I really don’t like the woman excuse. I won’t get into that (laughter). I had this discussion with my wife sometimes. It’s one of those things where you don’t win so I will just stop there (laughter).”
GIVEN THE MATT KENSETH ANNOUNCEMENT THIS WEEK, HOW HARD IS IT FOR A GUY BECAUSE YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A TOP-10 CONTENDER, USUALLY BETTER THAN THAT, THE WHOLE CONTRACT NEGOTIATION THINGS AND WE YOU ARE LEAVING AND THAT KIND OF STUFF. HOW DISRUPTIVE IS THAT TO A RACE TEAM? WHAT DO YOU EXPECT OUT OF THE NO. 17 THE REST OF THE YEAR? “Sometimes it makes them better, because everybody wants to prove everybody else wrong. It’s strange when you see somebody that you always have heard Matt’s (Kenseth) pop up in the past as far as…and every one of us, our names probably pop up when everybody thinks they are at the end of the contract and you hear all the rumors about going to this team and that team. He has always been at Roush Racing and driving the No. 17 car and so I don’t know the details there is obviously the landscape has changed in how the sport works and how people get paid and how the sponsorships come. There are just a lot of things that are different than they were even three years ago let alone five years ago. It’s a much different now and there is much more that factors in to the sponsors want to see the drivers sign and the owners want to see the sponsor sign and the driver wants to see the sponsor sign. Everybody is on this different timing. You get to this time of year and everybody is squirming around. You start to get a little more serious to go do something that is a little more solid. It’s harder to get deals done early now. From a contractual stand point and a driver’s stand point you know that you have to go out and get those deals done as early as you can so that you have some solid footing and can make some plans. The later it goes the harder it becomes to find a sponsor and if you wait too long you wind up in a situation like they were this year. He (Matt Kenseth) was already under contract and you don’t have a sponsor. There are just so many factors that go into it. Everybody’s situation is unique and you never know all the details of everything that is going on. It’s an interesting world right now in the NASCAR community.”
YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU DIDN’T FAIR VERY WELL HERE LAST YEAR DID THAT HAVE ANY FACTOR IN DECIDING TO DO DOUBLE DUTY HERE THIS WEEKEND? “I did that last year.”
HOW MUCH OF A BENEFIT CAN IT BE MAYBE THIS TIME AROUND? YOU GUYS HAVEN’T HAD MUCH TRACK EXPERIENCE ON THE CUP LEVEL HERE CAN IT BE ADVANTAGEOUS TO RUN BOTH? “I don’t think it hurts anything for sure. This is definitely a rhythm type of race track with all the bumps and things that go in it. I felt comfortable in the Nationwide car last year we just never had any speed in our Cup car last year. If we take one thing from the Nationwide car and take that over to the Cup series then it will be worth it.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI WAS IN HERE EARLIER AND HE SAID THAT HE THOUGHT THE SWAY BAR RULE CHANGE WAS GOING TO BE A REAL GAME CHANGER AND SHUFFLE THE ORDER OF WHO IS FASTEST AND WHO IS NOT. I KNOW YOU MENTIONED THIS LAST WEEK, BUT WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF WHAT IT IS GOING TO DO? “Like I said last week, I think that a lot of teams had started to develop that particular method of using the sway bar and the trailing arm and everything that went into that whole process to make the car have more skew. I think as you looked at the cars that had been doing that I think they had been doing it for several weeks and found a lot of speed with that. We had a lot of speed and were trying to catch up and had spent some time in developing parts and pieces to get to that. It was just going to keep evolving from there. I think NASCAR just decided to stop it before it got out of hand. There is a lot of force and pulling and pushing with that particular method of the way things were used. You had a potential to break some parts and pieces. That is what this sport is about though being innovative and kudos to those guys for figuring it out. The guy who figures out the next thing that NASCAR makes a rule about and wins a few races from it is what this sport is built on.”
WITH (RICKY) STENHOUSE GOING UP TO CUP WHAT IS YOUR GENERAL IMPRESSION OF HIM AS A DRIVER AND HOW YOU THINK HE WILL DO?
“I think that is where he belongs. Ricky is a great kid. He is just a hardcore racer that can drive the car sideways under any condition and always is aggressive in going forward. I am a huge Stenhouse fan and I am sure that weighed into some of the decision. I’m sure there was going to be a lot of pressure from a lot of different angles if he wasn’t in a Cup car next year. I think he wound up getting what he deserves.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DAYTONA? DO YOU THINK THE TRACK CONDITIONS WILL CHANGE FROM FEBRUARY TO NEXT WEEK? BRAD (KESELOWSKI) MENTIONED IT MAY BE A CARBON COPY OF THE DAYTONA 500 JUST WANTED TO KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS AND ALSO WANTED TO KNOW IF YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO LOUDON (NEW HAMPSHIRE) IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS. “I think this week will prepare us for the humidity, well not necessarily the humidity, but for the weather. I think with the smaller spoilers and everything that we started the year with at Daytona and with a pretty big increase in temperature I’m a little bit curious as to how the handling of the car will be. I think you will see a very similar race to what you saw at the beginning of the year. They are always exciting on the speedways.
“Loudon is a place much different flat race track. Track position and you have to have your car turning in the center of the corner and be able to hold the power down up off. It’s definitely two different styles of race tracks over the next couple of weeks.”
CONSIDERING WHAT TIME YOU GUYS ARE PRACTICING TOMORROW AND THAT IT IS A NIGHT RACE HOW MUCH CAN YOU LEARN ABOUT THE CAR AND SET-UP AND HOW MUCH IS IT GOING TO CHANGE BETWEEN DAY AND NIGHT? “It will probably change a tremendous amount. We will have to go back and look at the notes and try to make a good estimate from last year’s race as far as what we predict the pace to be so that we can get the bump stops and things set right so that the car doesn’t drag the track when it gets cool. You just have to count on the things that you know from the past and hopefully tomorrow we can get a good balance of the car. Usually if you get a good balanced car you can adjust it throughout the whole night.”