NASCAR Media Conference
October 24, 2007
PAUL CORLISS: Welcome to this month's West Coast NASCAR media teleconference hosted by California Speedway, Infineon Raceway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, NASCAR and Phoenix International Raceway. As we approach the November 11 Checker Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil, I would like to introduce our guest for this month's call, driver of the No. 29 Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet Kevin Harvick. He is currently 7th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup points standings and is the defending champion of November's PIR race. He is a native of the West Coast from Bakersfield and is the only driver in history to have won races in the Cup Series, Truck Series and Busch Series at PIR. Welcome to the West Coast media teleconference.
KEVIN HARVICK: Thanks for having me. We're looking forward to getting back out to Phoenix. It's been a very good place for us to race. We've been fortunate to have a lot of success over last few years there so we're definitely looking forward to coming out here in a couple weeks.
PAUL CORLISS: You've obviously had so much success here at PIR. What does it take to win at Phoenix? And what do you look most forward to about coming out to our track?
KEVIN HARVICK: For me, it's a racetrack that I grew up racing on in the Southwest Tour days and just have a lot of experience there in a lot of different cars and just somewhere that I like to race.
So I enjoy the flat track stuff and I get to see a lot of family and friends that come out to the race that weekend so it's always an interesting weekend to see who you're going to see that you haven't seen in a while.
Q. Could you start by giving us an overview of your season post-Daytona 500? Obviously the great start, has not been followed up with the kind of results that you were looking for, and specifically, has the need to develop this COT been a distraction for RCR while you were still needing to prepare and work on the conventional cars?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think, you know, our season has been very up and down obviously. We won the 500 and the All-Star Race. For us, it just seems like that everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong.
I think the performance of our particular cars have been fairly good. Obviously we've had a couple weeks where we haven't run good, but for the most part, things have gone fairly good on the performance side.
So, you know, we don't have the finishing results, but you know, in the Chase here, I think we've had seven flat tires.
So it's just been one of those things where you almost have to sit back and laugh at things that keep going wrong. The first race at Martinsville, we had the door front catch fire twice and had the new cable break on one of the cars. It's just been crazy things that have happened, and it seems like every time you turn around, things are going good and there's something that bites you that you didn't really expect.
Performance-wise, they have done a good job on my 29 team and just, you know, competing on both cars, I guess you could say. But the COT thing, I don't think it's just been a distraction for us. I think it's been a distraction for everybody. It's basically you're running two separate race teams. Seems like we have tested this year more than we ever have in the past, and I think everybody's ready to just race one car next year regardless of which one everybody wants to race.
So it's one of those things where everybody is ready to just kind of settle in and I think that's going to make the racing better than it already is as the teams are able to settle in and really concentrate on one car.
Q. Just talk a little about the Chase; how do you balance being a teammate to Clint while still yourself trying to win races and move up in the points chase?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think right now, I think, you know, it's kind of a battle from third to 12th. It seems like everybody from that point on in my opinion are the ones racing for the championship who are the first two cars. So, you know, we're out there trying to dig and get everything we can get and try to finish as high as we can in the points. That's the same thing that Jeff and Clint are doing, as well.
You know, you have to -- we don't race each other any different than we probably would on any other week. That's really just kind of something that we have done all year.
So I don't think there's really any special added balance to anything right now.
Q. Do your teammates really have to get along? We saw it happen over the weekend with Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth; do teammates have to be close friends in order to success, or can you guys get along without necessarily hanging out for a drink or two after the race or something?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think everybody can get along without being best friends. I think it's something where your teammates drive you, and in our particular case at RCR, I think our teammates drive us to make each other better and sometimes you bump into each other on the racetrack and you have moments that you're not happy with them and they are not happy with you. So that's just the nature of the beast.
You know, I think that the deal that happened after last week, it obviously brought out, you know -- brought out the true feelings of all the teammates towards Carl at Roush Racing, and obviously none of them really respect or it seems like, like him. So whatever has happened there is obviously something that I'm sure they will handle internally
From the outside looking in, it looked like a road rage or something to me. It was the strangest thing I've ever seen, somebody coming up on somebody doing an interview or just -- it was just really strange to me. So it was, you know, kind of like the muscle-headed guy picking on the guy who didn't really -- had never been in a fight in his life and that's kinds of how I feel about it. It probably wasn't necessary and probably embarrassing for Carl at the moment.
Q. Brandon Thomas (ph) is racing for you in the Busch Series race, and having been a team owner for a while, does it get easier now that you have a few years under your belt
KEVIN HARVICK: I think the expectations for Brandon this week are to have a good, solid run. It's more of a thanks for the things Brandon has done in RCR than anything. We didn't have somebody in the car this week and Brandon has done a lot of testing for our Cup cars and filled in a lot over the past couple of years on the Busch car and things like that.
I think as he has done all that, you know, it's just kind of a thank you and hopefully the expectations that we have are, you know, just to have a good, solid Top-10 run.
Q. Out here in northern California, a lot of people would like to see the race in Sonoma become part of the Chase. Would that be a good idea to see a road course race as part of the final ten
KEVIN HARVICK: I think so. I think as we go through the final ten races, I think it's something to where if you're going to be the champion, you should be able to run good on all different types of racetracks. So I think it would be, for part of the Chase to put one road race in there and see if it felt right, I think it would be good for the Chase myself.
Q. I understand you're going to be driving the Truck race at PIR. Are you also doing the Busch Series race here?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, we're going to do all three races that weekend in the Camp World Truck (ph) and the Miata Zone (ph) too. It's just kind of something I've done over the past few years. I didn't do last year, I don't believe -- I don't remember exactly when the last time we did it was.
But we have done it there in the past and it's just something -- a racetrack that I like racing at and something that we had planned at the beginning of the year to race. Right now, we're just sticking to our plan and looking forward to running all three.
Q. I'd like to ask you a follow-up about RCR. With the trend toward the four-car team maximums, obviously Richard was talking about the possibility of adding a fourth Cup team for next year and apparently he's decided that he's not going to do that, at least for next year. How would you feel about the fourth car in RCR? Would it be good for the technical development of the team that would benefit everyone, including you, or would you just assume not have another teammate?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think it would be good for the team to have a fourth car to be able to pool more resources and have more people and have more financial backing. I don't think it would hurt on any of those sides.
I think as just starting the team would be the biggest -- the biggest headache of the whole process is just getting the cars built and putting those people in place and finding the right driver to fit into those three drivers that we already have that get along well
I'm kind of like you guys. I'm not really in the loop on where we are with the fourth team on where we're going or not going and nobody has really told me anything.
Q. You talk a little about the Atlanta race, since then it's been a little touch and go. Can you explain what the teams problems have been Atlanta the last few years?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, we just haven't run got last few years for whatever reason. This year, we broke a motor which has gone along with the last two times we've been there, we broke a motor.
It's been the worst racetrack that we've gone to over the past four years, and you know, we're just trying to -- trying to figure out what it takes to get back around the place. Obviously we've won there before, and we've just got to figure out what we're missing on that particular end of it. Our teammates run good, and for us, it's just been -- it's been the worst track on the schedule for us.
Q. There was an earlier question about KHI and being an owner for a few years. I interviewed DeLana yesterday, and considering how much time that she personally spends on running the team and giving all of your other responsibilities, Cup-wise to sponsor and RCR, etc., do you even think you would have the ability to own the Truck and Busch team if she were not there to play such a key role in the day-to-day operations?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, DeLana does play a key role in everything we do at KHI, but we have been fortunate to put a lot of good people in good places here at our race job to kind of run things when we are not here.
This is kind of what I do when I'm away from my normal job and able to spend time at the shop. And really, I've got Rick Carelli here and Stacy Johnson that I've worked with in the past and Fred Lexy (ph) and all of those guys have been a part of the organization for seven, eight years, and Rick's been here, you know, for a few years.
So worked with a lot of those people, and we have a lot of trust in them and I think just putting the right people in the right management positions let's us do more things than some other people just for the fact that we have good people to help us.
Q. The trend to bring open-wheel drivers into NASCAR, generally speaking, how do you feel about it? There is some controversy. Some drivers think it's costing drivers who have come up through the traditional stock car training routes possibly opportunities. And number two, considering those of us who have spent a lot of time around open-wheel racing have heard those drivers say many times that the way they are trained in the European development series and even in IndyCar, is a lot different than the way drivers go about doing their business in NASCAR. And so my question is, given that, do you actually drive those guys differently than you would a Ricky Rudd or a Bill Elliott or guys that have been around NASCAR all their lives?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I think you feel more comfortable around the guys that have raced year-in, year-out in stock cars and came up through stock cars. Some of the guys that come in from the open-wheel side, it's just a different environment for them just for the fact, it's different the way you see out of the cars. The cars react different and it's just a learning curve that takes more than just jump in and go.
So it's one of those thing where, like you say, the two different styles of racing are totally different the way you're brought up, and the way that you race in stock cars is fully different just from the driving style, the way the races are run, the lengths of the race are sometimes different.
So it's just everything about it is different, and I think there's obviously different approaches. I think, you know, the way Ganassi has done it with his open-wheel guys is probably a good way to do it. Just that he can put them in anything that they can race in, just to get Franchitti time in a stock car. As long as they come up through and don't run over everything in sight like Montoya has, I think they will be fine
Q. What's your status with Montoya right now? Is it basically as it was after the Glen?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I haven't spoke to him so I don't really have status. He's not on my team.
PAUL CORLISS: Thank you Kevin, thank you very much on behalf of the West Coast media. Good luck this weekend in Atlanta and we look forward to seeing you soon in Phoenix.
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