NASCAR Media Conference
August 17, 2010
DENISE MALOOF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this week's NASCAR cam video teleconference, ahead of this weekend's events at Bristol Motor Speedway. It's the first of three races remaining before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Our guests today are Richard Childress, owner of Richard Childress Racing, and Kevin Harvick, driver of RCR's No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet.
RCR is in the midst of rejuvenation I think it's safe to say this season. It's led by Harvick who won for the third time this season last Sunday at Michigan. He also has led the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standing for the past 14 weeks.
Richard, all of your three teams are Chase eligible. You and Kevin made an important announcement earlier today. Do you mind updating us?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It's great coming in off of a win like Kevin had at Michigan to any announcement. This one was special today. Budweiser will be our sponsor for the next three years on the 29 Chevrolet. We couldn't be prouder to be associated with a company that has such rich history in our sport. They've been in our sport for three decades. Kevin has won two of the Bud Shootouts, Busch championship, which is Anheuser-Busch. We won our first race at Riverside with Ricky Rudd. He was sponsored by Budweiser. We've been in their family for a while, but to have them in our family today is great.
DENISE MALOOF: Kevin, you're the first driver to clinch a Chase berth. You did it Sunday at Michigan. I know it's early, but you must be pleased to be a serious contender for the championship this year.
KEVIN HARVICK: It's been a great start to the season. Obviously it's nice to go into this week's race and not have to worry about a Chase spot - better than anything going into Richmond without having to worry about a Chase spot.
The next three weeks are going to be a lot of fun, to go to three racetracks we've won at before and run well this year, to try to get more bonus points and get prepared for the Chase.
Obviously, the last 10 weeks will be as stressful as they've ever been. We've got to keep doing what we're doing, having fun with it. The next three weeks is kind of a reward for everything we've got to do at the beginning of the year.
DENISE MALOOF: We'll go straight now to media questions for Richard Childress and Kevin Harvick.
Q. Kevin, you've been Mr. Consistency all season long, leading the points for 14 weeks. How do you maintain that going into the Chase? For your crew, how do you keep them motivated and pumped up?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think winning races helps keep everybody pretty motivated. I think everybody knows what we need to do. A lot of us have been in this position before, whether it's the Nationwide championship, racing for wins, whatever the case may be. We've all experienced things before and know what we need to do. We just got to finish the deal with the championship hopefully at the end.
Can't really do anything different. Everybody is doing a great job of getting the cars prepared. They built some new cars for the Chase. They've done a great job in the engine shop of continuing to have great power and trying things hopefully for the Chase, as well.
You can't sit on your hands in this sport or you'll get passed pretty quick. Everybody is doing a great job. We just have to keep doing the things we've been doing to get us to this point.
Q. Richard, what a difference a year makes. The performance issues last year, rumors of Kevin possibly leaving. How did you manage to right the ship?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, I didn't do it alone. It took a lot of people to do it. We all really started working on it really hard about May or June. We knew we weren't going down the right path with a lot of things. We pulled everyone together, put ideas together, came up with what we needed to change. We knew we had to work on things to become a championship-caliber race team.
It started to turn around with eight or nine races to go last year. The performance of the car started picking up. I felt good about starting this season out.
Q. Kevin, it sounds very simple to say what changed. But really with all that went on last year, for you to come out and lead the championship, it's one extreme to another. Can you put your finger on what changed? Was it just the technical stuff or was there the intangible of you feeling good about things again?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think the easiest thing to tell you, it would be easier to tell you what didn't change to be honest with you. I think everything from top to bottom. Richard came in and made a lot of restructuring changes, restructured a lot of personnel on the race teams, moved Scott Miller into competition director.
After the personnel changes took place, I think we came up with a different direction. The engineering department has become more involved. We're able to use the tools, our seven-post, simulation, all the things we already had here, just using them correctly and more often.
Really getting the cars to where they needed to be from that standpoint with the new direction is something that probably obviously means the most on the racetrack. But all the off-track changes are what make the on-track changes take place.
Really everything has changed. Still the same people; just working in a different direction.
Q. Kevin and Richard, we all know that Budweiser adds a lot of marketing and visibility. Not that Shell didn't provide that. Richard, what about the marketing and the visibility that Budweiser provides? Kevin, how does life change being the Budweiser driver, the visibility there, the people you'll meet in the bars as you promote the product?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: From my part, it's an honor to be with a company that has such a great activation program. They do so much around the racetracks. They do so much for the fans. They've got some really neat stuff coming next year for our fans.
To be part of that and to be Kevin, to see the car in so many places, the things that Budweiser does with their program, it's an added benefit to Kevin and RCR.
KEVIN HARVICK: The more visibility you get from your sponsor activating your sponsorship is good for everybody. For me, I think the best thing about Budweiser coming onboard is the fact just it's a real casual sponsor as far as the atmosphere and the things that come with it. They like to have fun. They like to be relaxed. They put so much behind it. It's just a fun, fun brand to represent.
I don't think much is going to change. They like who we are or they wouldn't be here. I think as we go forward, it's going to be something great to see on the 29 car.
Q. Kevin, as you said, you can't really savor the wins, you have to move on really fast. When do you sit back and really get to enjoy those wins? Is handling the wins as important as handling the losses?
KEVIN HARVICK: Absolutely. I think you can't let the highs be too high and the lows be too low. You have to find an even ground of how you react to things. It's no different than shaking off a bad week. Your good weeks, you have to shake off as well, focus on the next week when you get to the racetrack. You have a couple days to enjoy it.
After the season we had last year, I think it's important that everybody enjoys Victory Lane. You never know when you're going to be back so you might as well enjoy this one like it might be the last one because you just never know.
I think we've all learned to enjoy the situations a little more than we probably would have in the past. You just got to stay cool about the whole thing. You just have to go out and race the car each week and stay relaxed, having fun, keep doing the things we've done up until this point.
Q. It's been talked about that Iowa Speedway, which you both enjoy being at, could get two Nationwide races next year. If that is, in fact, the case, do you think they'll be able to sustain that, and how much are you kind of rooting for them to get that, given how much you've enjoyed being there?
KEVIN HARVICK: Iowa is a great racetrack. I think we all have enjoyed our time there. Obviously the racing has been great. The bottom line is, though, when you see the people come out to support a particular event, I've been there for east/west series races, I've been there for the Nationwide races and watched the truck races on TV. Any time you've seen a race happen at the racetrack, it's sold out. The fans are very supportive of the facility.
If they get two races, I don't know what the schedule is going to look like you, to be honest with you. If they get two races, I think the fans will come and support it.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Same here. I've really enjoyed going up there. The fans up there, they're going to support the races. I think they'll do really well getting two Nationwide races. It's going to be neat to see that. The racing up there, it's a really fan-friendly atmosphere when you go up to Iowa.
Q. Kevin, you did something on Sunday at Michigan, you took the lead away from Denny Hamlin by passing him on the outside of the turn. I talked to you at Michigan. You said you studied film of Dale Earnhardt because he used to do the same thing. Can you explain to us what really caught your attention out of that film.
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, it's Dale Earnhardt, Jr., not Dale Earnhardt.
As you look at the film, running the high line is not something I particularly like to do. You go to certain racetracks and you have to explore the groove to be competitive.
At Michigan you want to have options. That's never been an option that I've really concentrated on in practice or we haven't really practiced right to make our car work for the high groove. Usually if you can run the high groove at Michigan, later in the run you'll have a car that will be a little bit better.
It seems on Sunday or car worked better on the high groove than anywhere else. You were able to carry a lot of momentum down the straightaway, use the good power we have in our cars and make them look even better when you're running up top.
Just felt like we needed to broaden our horizon on what types of lines and things we were using at that particular racetrack. When you look at the tapes, it's more just technique than it is anything.
DENISE MALOOF: Richard and Kevin, thank you for joining us today, we appreciate you taking the time to do your media duty and congratulations for Sunday and today's announcement and good look at Bristol. Thanks very much.
KEVIN HARVICK: Thanks for having us.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Thank you.
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