NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Daytona 500
Topics: Daytona 500
February 18, 2007
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: We are pleased to be joined in the media center by our third place finisher today in the Daytona 500, and that's Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet.
Jeff, talk about the run out there that you had today and what you saw there at the end.
JEFF BURTON: Well, I was ecstatic with how our car drove all day. We didn't have the fastest car in the race for sure. That's the thing we lacked was speed. But what we didn't lack was being able to drive the car wherever I wanted it to be. We ran really well. To be honest, we ran well.
I still don't know the whole story, but we had a jack man, came in running third, I think, and our jack man injured his ankle. I'm not sure what happened, I just saw him limping around the car after the pit stop. But he toughed it up. Went ahead and did the pit stop. Went around the front of the car literally hopping on one foot carrying the jack, got the left side up. We lost all our track position with that, but he got it done and he kept us from going a lap down. Really proud of him for doing that.
And then it was kind of fighting our way back up. I think I passed somebody for third with maybe five or six to go, and I drove into turn three, and I just was completely sideways and backed up the racetrack in front of everybody, and we were four-wide, people banging on my doors, and recovered from that and then missed another wreck.
So the last 40 laps were just crazy. I mean, I cannot tell you guys how wild and aggressive those last 40 laps were. I mean, it was insane, as all the carnage proves.
So glad to get through it. We had a good start to the year. I'm real proud of Kevin and his guys and equally disappointed for Mark and his guys.
Q. It seems like it's two races: the first half of the race everyone is just kind of riding around, and the second half. Is that how it turns out?
JEFF BURTON: Well, what happens is as the track temps cool down, the track gets a little more grip. As the laps wind down, the risk versus reward ratio starts to change and people do things that they otherwise wouldn't do.
It's really wild. The first part of the race, people are racing hard, but the last part of the race, they race -- we race harder than we should, if that makes any sense.
So we're at a point where we're racing and everything is cool, but then we try to take it the next step. There's just not enough grip to take it that next step and therefore you get people running into each other and all the carnage that we had.
I hate late-race cautions on restrictor plate races. I hate them. When that last caution came out, I was really glad because that got us caught back up, but I was really disappointed because I knew we were 40 to go at Daytona for the Daytona 500, it's going to get ugly.
Q. I hate to put a little downer on this, but in your mind should the caution have been thrown before it was, because Mark is saying that he thought he would have won the race if the caution would have come out?
JEFF BURTON: I haven't seen a replay of it. I mean, I can't comment because I just have not seen a replay. The only thing I did see was it looked like Harvick got way in front of him, then Mark got a little bit in front of him, then Harvick got a little bit in front of him.
I don't know if the caution -- when the caution would have come out, where everybody was at that point. Honestly, I just saw that one brief thing because I saw it live. But I haven't seen a replay.
I think throwing a caution at that point, turn four, last lap, doesn't do you any good anyway. Nobody is going to do anything different than what they otherwise would.
Before I really comment, I'd like to see a tape of it.
Q. Was the cold temperatures and the wind a factor at all in the beginning?
JEFF BURTON: Yeah, I thought the wind was a factor. I hope it was. We believe that we worked on our race car because of the wind and we did a lot of setup stuff based on the wind.
Yeah, I think that the biggest thing that happens at the end of the race is just, like I said, that risk versus reward ratio changes, and people start trying to get more than perhaps they should. It just gets wild.
It's hard to even describe. The cars don't drive good enough to be three-wide consistently. You can for a little while, but early in the race when you're three-wide, people lift a little bit, get a little more room. Late in the race, nobody gives any room, and it just gets bizarre.
Q. Kevin is your teammate and Mark is your long time friend. If you're sitting there and assuming yourself you can't win, what are you rooting for?
JEFF BURTON: As good as I feel for RCR and Kevin, I feel that bad for Mark. I'm going to tell you that Mark Martin is a champion. I don't care if he ever wins a championship. He's a champion. I don't care if he ever wins the Daytona 500, he's a champion.
But it would be nice for Mark Martin to be able to see the hardware on the trophy case - for him. But to the competitors, he has so much respect - and not only as a competitor but as a person. He is a world-class individual and driver and mainly person.
You do a whole lot more living than you do driving, and when Mark Martin steps away from the race car, he'll have friends and he'll go on and live a really good life. So disappointing for him, but at the same time, I'm so ecstatic for RCR. To get another Daytona 500 means a great deal. It's huge. But it's exceptionally disappointing for Mark and all the things that he was close to doing.
KERRY THARP: We are joined by a couple other competitors today. Our runner-up in today's race, driver of the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet, and that's Mark Martin; and also our top-finishing rookie, that's driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford, that's David Ragan.
Mark, a great run for you out there today. Talk about it. Give us your viewpoint.
MARK MARTIN: Well, first of all, you know, I've got several things I want to say before I talk about the race. First of all, I want to thank the race fans for supporting me so much because if it wasn't for them, I might not have got my dream ride with Ginn. And I also want to thank, you know, that team that worked so hard to give me this deal.
It gives me such great pride to represent the U.S. Army and to work with people who want to win so bad as this group and who gave me a chance to do it the way I wanted.
I also want to say that I didn't ask for a win in the Daytona 500; I asked for a chance. Those guys gave me exactly what I asked for, and I let it slip away, slip through my fingers, and I'm fine with that. I did my best.
When I looked up there at the end, I was minus any pushers. I didn't have any help to get it done, and that's the way it goes. It was really looking good. I told this team through Speed Weeks when we qualified 35th, that we still -- we came down here for Sunday. We came down here to win this race. Ryan Pemberton and all these guys, they got it done. They got it done on Pit Road, they gave me the car, huge horsepower with Hendrick Chevy horsepower, and they gave me the tools to get out there, and we came up a little bit short.
JEFF BURTON: Before I leave, I do want to say one thing that Mark Martin told me this winter. This would be his best chance of winning the Daytona 500 ever, and he was right. He knew what the hell he was doing. I know a lot of people scratched their head, Why is he doing, why is he going over there?
He's not a dumbass. He's a pretty smart guy (laughter).
MARK MARTIN: Thank you. I appreciate that, Jeff.
KERRY THARP: We're joined by our top-finishing rookie, and that's David Ragan. David, your first Daytona 500. Talk us through it a little bit.
DAVID RAGAN: Well, we've had an up-and-down week here, and certainly to come out with a top 5 finish was remarkable for everyone at AAA and Roush Fenway Racing. We just took it easy the first 250 miles, a little too easy at times because I could hear Jimmy Fennig getting mad in the pits, and he told us to get with it with about 40 to go, and it just worked out perfect.
When I was on the top line, the top line was moving. When I was on the bottom line, the bottom line was moving. So nothing that I did. My crew and everyone put me in great position to go out and just try to hang on, and with help. Mike Wallace stuck through the race with me through thick and thin. I've got to give a little credit to him.
We had a great top 5 finish for the AAA Ford Fusion. We're just ready to go to California.
KERRY THARP: Questions for David Ragan.
Q. You seemed to be well back of the field for most of the day, and you just skyrocketed up there at the end. Did you really honestly see yourself having a top 5 finish today?
DAVID RAGAN: I was running 15th with the green-white-checkered. I would have paid money to have it over right then.
MARK MARTIN: You and me both (laughter).
DAVID RAGAN: You know, I would be happy with that. That was our game plan. We almost lost a draft through that one round of green flag pit stops. We lost a couple of cars. And like I said, I could hear Jimmy in the pit box starting to get mad.
It just worked out. We got a caution the time we needed, our car was handling great the last part of the race. When I was on the top line, it was moving. We had a restart there with about 20 to go. Things worked out great. I had a few guys stick with me through thick and thin. Nothing that I did on purpose, but it certainly helps to have a lot of luck here.
Q. What did it look like out there with all the wrecks in the last 50 laps and how did that keep on changing the race?
DAVID RAGAN: I saw a few of them start to happen. I had a good look when the 48 got loose. I guess he got loose in the middle of three-wide. Started chasing it up and down the track and things started to get tight. And it worked out perfect where the cars behind me checked up, no one ran into me. I got checked up in plenty of time where I didn't cave the nose in on the Ford Fusion.
It just worked out great. On the last lap I saw Kyle Busch run off the apron coming off of four, and I just kind of stood my ground and stayed straight and kept my own on the start/finish line, and that's where I was trying to get to.
Q. Can you talk a little bit, and Mark knows about this, with Jimmy Fennig, can you talk about how good he is with mentoring you as a rookie?
DAVID RAGAN: I would put him up against any crew chief in the garage. He's got perfect -- my father has always preached it's good to have some - I don't want to call him old - but good to have some veteran leadership on the team. And Jimmy, he's got that veteran leadership, he's not afraid to get on the guys, that he keeps us walking the chalk line. And if you check when the garage opens at 6:00 a.m., the AAA team is there at 5:30. We're always there early.
We're here to race and nothing else. He stays on me very hard to try to do the best job I can, and at the same time he doesn't slack off any either. He's a great combination from the veteran leadership skills that the guys had back in the '80s and '90s and certainly to now. He's smart. He knows what wind tunnel numbers we're looking for. He understands the race car. The only thing I keep preaching to him is, Jimmy, don't take anything for granted that I might know; tell me everything.
There's a few things that I might know and a few things that I don't, and I tell him, Don't be afraid to talk. If you've ever been around Jimmy Fennig much, he's pretty much a straightforward guy, doesn't like to talk a lot. I tell him, Tell me everything you know, Jimmy, and that will help us all.
Q. Talk about the redemption, if you would, of wrecking your primary car in the qualifier and how the piece you ran today worked in comparison, please.
DAVID RAGAN: Certainly that was a big disappointment to us and something that could have been prevented by myself. We had a bad luck of getting a flat right rear tire, which that happens a lot of times, and it's up to myself as a race car driver to be smart and get slowed down quick enough.
Well, I obviously thought I could slow down 30 miles an hour and still hang onto it, and I needed to slow down 70 miles an hour. I didn't get it slowed down quick enough, and eventually just couldn't hang on anymore. We got our backup car, same one we tested here in January.
Again, all the hard work and effort that the guys back in Concord at the race shop at Roush Yates Engines put into this Daytona program means so much that they're working on next year's Daytona 500 over the next month or two.
It's really tough when you wreck your primary car, but we had a great AAA Ford Fusion for our backup. We're very fortunate we had two practice sessions between the 150s and today's race and we got it driving extremely well, and with a few adjustments for today, it drove well but it just wasn't that great of a pusher.
I always needed some help. I didn't have the pure speed that it might have needed to pull out and make a pass with no help. It was tough right there, but that might have been a good thing for me because that really taught me how to stay in line and not push the issue.
Q. The follow-up, concerning where it looked like your teammates were going to finish, how proud are you to be the standard bearer for Roush Racing in its debut?
DAVID RAGAN: To get down to the truth, I probably don't deserve it. Certainly Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, they are the smart race car drivers on our team. They were running up front the whole day. I saw the score board. I usually try not to look at that stuff. Jimmy tells me to stay focused. And we had the red flag and I looked up and I saw the 01 was up there and the other Roush teammates, and that was cool. I was definitely pulling for you, Mark. I wanted our teammates to win, but you could have been the next best thing to win. And I really mean that.
It was a long day for us, and we came out on the top side of things, but certainly week in and week out, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth are going to show you why they're the champions.
Q. For Mark, on the last lap when you saw the car spinning behind you and saw the smoke, what were your thoughts? Did you think you had won the race? And secondly, obviously NASCAR allowed you to race back to the caution. Should they allow you guys to do that on the final lap?
MARK MARTIN: You're asking tough questions there. NASCAR was doing their best to get an exciting finish for the Daytona 500. I have no idea what happened behind me. I was ahead when they were wrecking -- my spotter said they were wrecking. I did notice that there was some smoke and stuff. But my focus was basically on beating the 29 to the line. And I knew that we were in good shape being on the inside line when I had Kyle behind me because he had been so strong. I didn't even realize, until I saw a replay afterwards, that I lost Kyle.
Gosh, I was kind of -- that outside line usually gets us up forward just there in the short chute behind the start/finish line. And it was my hope all the way down to the line that I was going to get a push. But I see there was nobody left back there.
No, I didn't think it was over. It isn't over till it's over, and I never saw a yellow flag and I kept racing with everything that I had.
Q. For Mark, I've got to keep belaboring the point, but when y'all came to the line and you crossed it, I think the first words on the radio from you was, They waited, they waited, I can't believe they waited. Did you really have no expectations based on the information you got either from your mirror or crew chief or spotter or anybody else? Did you have no expectation that you would look up at the line and see a yellow there?
MARK MARTIN: You know, I've been racing for over 30 years, and I know one thing for sure, I'm real dumb, so I do stupid stuff. So I sure as heck aren't going to quit racing.
I never thought twice about the prospect of the race going yellow. I could hope because we were ahead at one time. Coming off the corner, I think we were still ahead. And even at that, I thought, Hey, this is a no-brainer. I've got the inside line. I've got Kyle back here, he's fast as all get-out. We're going to zoom back.
But we never picked that speed up, and all I was looking at was the start/finish line. Obviously that's what you do. And that's how it works out. I took a Pepcid Complete before the race, and that took care of my heartburn. And I had a Coca-Cola afterwards, and everything's good (laughter).
Q. When Kyle was behind you, it looked like he might have just been kind of waiting for the right time, but you really felt like you had him beat. What was it that gave you that confidence in Kyle Busch? You felt confident with him behind you, although you made it seem like he was waiting to set you up. Why were you able to be confident you would finish up?
MARK MARTIN: Because when we were side by side that meant Kyle couldn't pass me. He wasn't going to pass me on the inside and he wasn't going to pass me on the outside because there was an outside line, so he would have been caught in a box where he had to push me to get the most positions he could.
Look, y'all saw more of it than I did. I don't know. I knew Kyle was behind me. I knew he wasn't going to get under me because I was on the yellow line. And I thought that Kyle's car was really fast, and I thought he was trapped on the inside line and he was going to be pushing me come off of four. But, you know, I wasn't doing a whole lot of thinking about anything but trying to beat the 29 to the line. You know, that's what happened.
I'll say again: I didn't ask for that trophy; I asked for a chance at it. And I'm very proud of what this team did for me this weekend.
KERRY THARP: We are pleased to be joined by the winner of the 2007 Daytona 500, and that is Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet. Kevin, congratulations. What's it feel like to win the Daytona 500?
KEVIN HARVICK: I'm cold right now. They got me with the water there. I smell like I have a heavy alcohol problem.
But it's just hard to put into words. I mean, we got ourselves in a little bit of trouble there with a hole in the nose and got really hot and had to drop out of the draft there with about 20 to go. Luckily we got a caution and were able to come back in and fix the front of the car.
Just Daytona 500, it's hard to believe. I knew I was going to be the bad guy there at the end with Mark leading. But we just held the pedal down and hoped for the best.
Q. This is for all three of you. All three of you have varying levels of experience in this sport. Is this the wildest finish or the wildest final 40 laps all three of you have ever been involved in?
KEVIN HARVICK: I know for me I told them on the radio, I says, I don't know what's happening out here but I'm putting myself as close as I can to the wall so I'll hit something as least hard as possible.
There at the end, people were dragging the walls. I know I hit the wall two or three times there at the end of the race. I think I hit the back end of the 17, straightened him back out there, in the next to last caution. It was the wildest thing I've been a part of in a long time.
DAVID RAGAN: I was just trying to stay on the line and stay out of the way and try to finish this thing. Certainly it was wild. The first part was pretty easy and a little too calm, I guess, and we all just had a chance to work on our cars and everybody had good-handling cars there at the end and was giving it all they had.
MARK MARTIN: I was ahead of it all (laughter). It was pretty decent up there where I was sitting.
KEVIN HARVICK: It was very entertaining behind you.
MARK MARTIN: I'm sure it was. I'm usually back there bouncing off of everything, so I was enjoying myself.
Q. Kevin, you talked yesterday about what the win meant for RCR, with the success you've had here in the past. What does today's win mean as far as what this team has done in the past?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think obviously RCR has a very deep history here with everything they've done, and with Dale winning the 500 in '98. They've won a lot of races here, and we've been close to winning a lot of races here. And it always seems like something happening.
We had things happen today, and I think it just shows the maturity of our team and all of us coming through and putting everything back together and coming back up through the field.
Q. Kevin, you brought I don't know if the right word is 'redemption' to Richard, winning back at I think it was Rockingham in 2001. What did he say to you today right after this win?
KEVIN HARVICK: He just kept looking at me saying, Man, this is the Daytona 500, can you believe it? It's the Daytona 500.
Knowing the history of Richard and RCR and everything that he's done in NASCAR racing, it's hard to put into words the history of RCR and how much they've meant to this sport. And to be part of that history is something that is just hard to put into perspective. And until we get further down the road, it's hard to put it all into words right now.
Q. This is for Kevin and sort of for Mark, too. You have such a respect for the history of this sport and the guys who really built it, so is any part of it just a little disappointing that Mark didn't get that win? And then for Mark would you have been disappointed had Kevin not raced you as hard as he did to maybe give you that win?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think, like I told you earlier, I knew when I got out of the car I wasn't going to be the good guy. But that's just the way it works. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. And unfortunately today -- fortunately today was our day to win.
MARK MARTIN: In this sport, no one ever races less. But had that been the case hypothetically, it would have broke me in half. That's what I love about this sport, because it's hard. It's what's driven me for over 30 years, and that's what I love about it, and that's why I'm here, was here today, because I had the choice of whether or not I wanted to race the Daytona 500. I wanted a chance -- I wanted a shot at it, and these guys gave me a shot.
Q. Mark, do you go home tonight feeling like, Oh, I came this close and feeling bad, or do you go home and say, I had the best Daytona 500 I ever had in my life and I feel great ?
MARK MARTIN: I've got a feeling it'll be a little of both. We were very close, and it wasn't a fluke. It was a two-month-long drag. We've been down here a week and a half. We haven't shown anybody any real pizzazz, and we methodically worked our way into the position. We didn't back into it or anything else. I'm very proud of the effort.
I probably will feel some sadness somewhere along the line. Right now I was focused on my job. My heart wasn't broke. I've done this stuff a long time, and I've had a lot worse happen than what happened there in the last 200 yards of this race happen to me, and you guys know it - a lot worse. If I'm lucky, Bobby Ginn might put me in a car in the 500 again next year.
And I want to say one other thing, too. This was an awesome effort today and this week and this month, but we still have work to do. It's not all golden. The challenge that they've given -- that I have and that we all have at Ginn Racing is out there for us, and we have -- we do have many more challenges.
It's not all going to be as golden as today, and I know that. I'm going to continue to roll my sleeves up and work at it.
Q. Mark, you said you were looking for a pusher there at the end. Does it make it any worse that your old Roush teammate kind of pushed Kevin to victory, Matt Kenseth?
MARK MARTIN: No, no. I haven't even seen the finish. It is what it is. We were inches or feet or whatever we were short. It was so close, but it was second.
I couldn't expect Jeff Burton to have come behind me. I thought Kyle Busch was behind me. I didn't know until just recently. I felt confident. Kyle Busch's car was really fast and I thought he was going to be trapped on the inside, he was going to have nowhere to go and have no option but to push me. His car was fast. And we both had Hendrick power, and I still thought we were going to be all right.
But then I didn't realize that he was in the wreck. I wasn't looking back very much. I had my eye on Kevin.
Q. Can you talk about what was going through your mind during that 11-minute red flag period where you're just sitting there lying in wait?
MARK MARTIN: You know, I didn't -- I stayed focused and I ran over the restarts and scenarios and thought about what I needed to do and how I need to do it. I'll be real honest with you. I'm very proud of the effort I made on the final restart. I was very proud at the middle of the backstretch coming for the checkered flag to have Kyle where he was and contained, I felt, which was the most immediate threat because his car seemed so fast. At that point I felt like I had done -- I had done everything that I could do. And when I get done here tonight, I probably will feel like I did everything that I could do.
I don't know of any particular scenario that I could have changed that would have changed the outcome. I expected a push from behind as I exited the corner. I still felt like I was in the catbird seat in that respect and never looked back. I didn't realize that we were in that position.
Q. Mark, yesterday you said that it would be huge to win the Daytona 500, but you wouldn't waste your time dreaming about it. And then out on Pit Road just a little bit ago you said you had a dream. Did you have that last night or were you daydreaming out there today?
MARK MARTIN: I think I was referring to when I signed the deal with Ginn. I didn't do it -- I didn't sign the deal with Ginn with consideration of their restrictor plate cars. Immediately after I signed it, I reminded everyone that they had really fast restrictor plate cars. And I have not been particularly in position to win these races in the 6 car, especially in the last several years.
And so that's basically what I was referring to, that I knew that I might have the best chance ever the day after we signed the deal, and it came true. That was true, I did have the best shot ever.
Q. This entire week has been all about this cheating. Does a finish like today's help heal things a little bit?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, there has been a lot of things go on this week. You know, I think some of them were probably a little bit further than the rest of us ever thought it would go. But I think anytime there's a good race on the racetrack, it helps mend things. But I think it's still going to take a little bit to get over some of the issues that happened.
Q. You sound as if you're perfectly okay with the racing back to the green, almost you would have rather it been decided that way. Is that what you're saying? You could raise a little more hell and turn this into a big controversy it seems like. Do you not want to win it this way?
MARK MARTIN: No, that's not it. Nobody wants to hear a grown man cry, all right? That's what it is. And I'm not going to cry about it. This is what it is, and that's it. That's the end.
Their decision, they made the decision, and that's what we're going to live with.
KERRY THARP: Thank you, Mark. Congratulations on a great race out there tonight.
We're also going to call up our championship team owner Richard Childress and crew chief Todd Berrier.
Todd, talk about the race from your vantage point in the pit box and maybe some of the strategy you guys utilized there towards the end.
TODD BERRIER: The race was pretty unbelievable, the finish was. Everything else was pretty typical from our side of things. Seems like every race we have overheating problems, we have stuff to fight back from, we always end up at the back and end up at the front and end up at the back. Seems like we always have wrecks.
It was just historic, seemed like everything was just the same as it was. He got them runs there coming back from all that, which was -- it was four wide, three wide all the time. It was just hard to believe that we actually made it all the way back to the front, and then for the finish to be like it was, it was pretty awesome.
KERRY THARP: Richard, what's does it feel like to win another Daytona 500?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It's great. It really hasn't sunk in yet. I'll wake up in the middle of the night and scream. It was unbelievable to see the moves that Kevin made. I've seen a lot of these Daytona 500s, and this had to be the wildest Daytona 500 I've ever watched. I told Kevin, we were talking at one time, I said I kept my eyes shut there a little bit, it was so wild.
Just proud of everybody at RCR and Kevin Harvick and Shell/Pennzoil, everybody that's involved, Todd Berrier and his group, our restrictor plate engine guys did a great job, as well.
Q. What is your feeling right now? Six years ago today, to this date, Dale passed away. What are you feeling about that today with this win?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, it's just -- it's a great win. You know, it gives me thoughts back to our win here in '98. And it's just -- we're cherishing the moment of winning this Daytona 500. And I know Dale is proud of everything that we've done, and Kevin jumping in there and doing what he done for us. It's just been an unbelievable ride.
Q. Is there an irony because it's the same date do you think?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I don't know, you know, really. It could be, you know. It's just unbelievable to be sitting here tonight.
Q. Kevin, as I watched the replay or watched it live and then the replay, I was a little bit surprised with all the momentum you had coming out of turn two. As you came halfway down the backstretch you could tell that line was really flying. Were you surprised nobody else jumped out in front of you to try to stop your momentum to try to use that to push you guys through?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, the 5 started to come up there, but we were just going so much faster than they were, that I had the 17 and the 31, and we just had such a run back there, that I was coming like a freight train I guess you could say, and we were up against the wall. At that point it was take all you can take and there wasn't any give.
I think that they just realized how fast we were going. I apologize for quivering because I'm cold.
Q. What did you think about what Mark said about not seeing a grown man cry? What did you think about that reaction, and then you shook his hand?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I've got to know Mark over the last few years, and there's not a more competitive person in the garage. You know, he used to get a bad rap for sometimes speaking his mind and coming out and saying things. And Mark is one of the best people you'll ever meet. But he is one of the best race car drivers that's ever sat in the seat of any of these NASCAR races.
To get to race against Mark Martin is an honor, and just for the fact that he will drive that car as hard as it'll go every lap and won't ever give up. You know, it's a lot of fun to race against those guys.
Q. How soon or at what point did you know that all that crashing was going on behind you, and when you did know it, did you expect there to be a yellow flag?
KEVIN HARVICK: I saw the yellow come out right after we crossed the start/finish line I believe. I don't really know when it came out. I was concentrating on -- Mark got back in front of me for just a split second there. I had him not cleared but I was in front of him coming off of turn four and he side drafted. And usually when you get the side draft back right where you can get back by. So that was what I was concentrating on the most.
Q. Were you aware of how close Kyle Busch came to running into the side of you going into turn three, and did you guys see that?
KEVIN HARVICK: I knew I was going so much faster than the momentum would carry him down the track. I saw him coming up, and at that point I was committed to it. It was just going to be one of those deals where either he doesn't come all the way up or we probably all crash. We had taken so many chances at that point that -- it was the last lap of the Daytona 500, and you've got to go.
Q. You talked about what the new colors and the new sponsor, a chance to establish your own identity a little bit more, finally emerge from the shadows. How big a step is this win in doing that?
KEVIN HARVICK: We've been extremely focused on our race cars and let them do the talking for us. We've laid low this week and over the winter and just really trying to do things kind of on our own agenda, and we felt like we really stuck to our agenda and our plan and did things as we wanted to.
Shell and Pennzoil have been great to work with. And coming into the sport, first race, and winning the Daytona 500 is pretty big. No matter what the colors, GM Goodwrench and Dale Earnhardt and Richard, are all the people that got RCR to the point that it is today. Things change and sponsors change, and we had to move forward. But winning is what makes the shadow less, and being successful on the racetrack and making things happen. That's what makes it less.
Q. This is for Todd and Richard. Kevin said earlier that when he was in the back of the pack and he had the problem with the nose, it was the new maturity of the team that really kept you guys in there. Can you talk a little bit about the involvement of the team and coming close to the championship last year and not winning help to make that team more mature?
TODD BERRIER: I feel for sure that just having the year we had last year makes you realize that you can do a lot of things you knew you could do, but you just proved that you can do them. So it gives everybody more initiative, more drive and more confidence to go out and do it.
And then I think having that happen, it's happened several times, I think there was 20 some laps to go in the race, and it's not unusual to have cars come from 30th back up to the front in 20, 30 laps in these kind of races.
It's just our team has been together a long time and work really hard together, and it's just pretty nice to have all that hard work paying off.
Q. Richard, you took a team that had been questionable and turned it around, changed the employees and put two cars in the Chase, and now you've won the Daytona 500. Can you tell how that feels? What a statement about not quitting.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It feels great, but it isn't about that I done this or that. It's the team work of everybody at RCR. We made a lot of changes that was for the better. You know, I'm just proud of where we're at today, and we're looking at tomorrow and looking at next week.
I think this team, like Todd said, has matured. They've been together -- he and Kevin have been together now for quite a few years, and that's what it takes to win championships, is having a team to mature together. These guys know what they're thinking before they even do something. I'm proud of what they've accomplished in winning the Daytona 500.
Q. Could you just comment a bit on how it seemed the entire complexion of this race changed and seemingly the players changed when you had the accident when everything got strung out and the 20 and the 2 got together?
KEVIN HARVICK: A bunch of demons came out when it got dark, I know that much. All hell broke loose after that. The complexion of the race changed when it got dark because everybody's car started handling so much better. It got anywhere near the end of the race, and I think it was 50 laps to go, and everybody was three wide, two wide, beatin' and bangin', and it was just kind of survival of the fittest at that point.
We were fortunate to be a part of the race in the beginning of the race and be a part of the race when it counted at the end, too. That's the most important thing.
Q. Richard, you've been here before. What does it mean to a team to win the Daytona 500 as far as the year goes? And for Kevin, where does this rank in comparison to your Brickyard 400 victory?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, it's a momentum builder. It's kind of payday for everybody that worked so hard all winter. I know how much Todd and his group has put in it and everybody at RCR. And to come here and win the Daytona 500 just gives you a boost and a jump-start going into the rest of the year. You know, it's a confidence builder.
Q. You've got a new sponsor here, and you kick off kind of a new era of you starting off on your own with this sponsor. Richard, can you talk about what it means to have Pennzoil, what it means for them to get their first outing a win? And Kevin, no longer being the guy in black and starting a new era as a winner?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think, like I said earlier, none of us ever want to get rid of anything that ever has happened at RCR. You don't ever want to see things change. But things do change and things have to go forward. And we're just excited to have everybody from Pennzoil and Shell to be a part of our program. And they've been huge supporters of everything that we've done. Their activation has been just incredible to be a part of. To see them get involved and be a part of that and know how enthused they are.
But like I said, winning is what it's all about. And that's the best way to create your own identity, is to be successful. And we've been fortunate to have some success over the last couple years. We've won the Brickyard 400. But I don't think there's anything that can match a Daytona 500 in stock car racing. This is what it is, and this is as big as it gets. I'm just glad that we're able to accomplish that.
Q. This is for Kevin and Richard. This was obviously a wild and spectacular race, one that will be remembered for a long time, and you guys have come out on top. Do you think this will also help wipe out the memory of some of the problems that went on this week, scandals or whatever you want to call it?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I mean, you know, I'm glad we weren't a part of any of it. It's hard to start off Speed Weeks with everything going the wrong direction with points and people having to take a vacation. It's hard to continue forward like that.
So we're excited that everything has gone really good for us. And hopefully -- I don't know. I mean, there's a couple things that were pretty big, but I'm just glad we weren't a part of it.
Q. In Victory Lane you said something about you thought you broke your wrist. Can you explain that a little bit?
KEVIN HARVICK: I got so excited at the end of the race, and I knew we had won the race, and I guess I just didn't realize how excited I was. I punched the dang mirror out of the car. It just kind of hurt my hand a little bit. Just overexcited, I guess, knocked the mirror out.
Q. You talked about the demons coming out in the dark that changed the complexion of this race. What about when Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch went out? How did that change the complexion? It seemed like they were pretty strong cars.
KEVIN HARVICK: You could see that one coming from about lap 10. The 2 was running down on the apron a couple times, and the two weren't completely thrilled with each other. They were racing pretty hard. And when they got tangled up, the 20 had a really good car. But the end of the race was so much different than the first part of the race because it was just two and three wide and everybody all over the place. But it was a very enthusiastic race after it got dark.
Q. You were courted rather heavily last spring to go over to the Toyota, and I know that you gave it a lot of thought before you decided to stay with Richard Childress. Just talk about how well you feel about your decision to stay with Richard now that you've won the Daytona 500?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, it wasn't all my decision. I mean, it was our decision as a group. We wanted to make sure that we were all on the same page and pulling in the same direction. We wanted to win races. I mean, that's what we wanted to do. That's what I wanted to do, that's what Richard wanted to do, that's what Todd wanted to do.
You know, we just -- you have to follow your heart and let it guide you sometimes and let things happen how they're supposed to happen. I've got a lot of friends and a lot of loyal people that were behind me at RCR and felt like that's what I needed to do, and that's what we did.
Q. The hole in your radiator, there was so much going on, I just want to make sure I know, what incident or which one of the incidents caused you to get that at the end and at what point in the race did that happen?
KEVIN HARVICK: That's a good question. I know it was probably three cautions from the end. All of a sudden the water temperature just went crazy and we just put a little bit of tape on, and I think it probably got that hole knocked in there and probably just wasn't cooling right.
TODD BERRIER: Just had a hole knocked through the nose, and it was kind of disturbing what was happening in there with the duct work. Once we got it patched up, it was fine. There was no hole in the radiator, just the nose itself.
KEVIN HARVICK: Just kind of screwed up the way the intake of the air was coming into the radiator.
Q. Richard, can you talk about the healing process and what all this means tonight?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, winning tonight is great for today's deal, but I don't think anything will ever replace a friend, Dale Earnhardt, a great American race driver. Winning the race with him was great. I think the healing started for me when Kevin won in Atlanta, the third race. I think when Junior won here in July the 4th, that was some healing. And today, to win this race, just everything is healing.
But we still all miss him today as much as we did the day we lost him.
Q. With the unusually cold weather, the winds, what type of setup changes, anything different you guys did with the car for the race, any changes during the race?
TODD BERRIER: Yeah, we made a lot of changes during the race. And I think a part was a track change. I think us and the 5 got together and knocked the right front fender in about the same time it was starting to get dark. We got a lot tighter, so we had to make a lot of changes to the car up to that point. We kind of knew we wanted to pull the fender out but knew we were going to be back in 35th, 39th position or something. As it turned out we ended up back there anyway with the water temp. We would have been back there twice if it weren't for that.
The practice yesterday was very similar to what the day started out being, and then we were having to chase the track for the night conditions. We weren't really sure what that was going to be, so we kind of kept up with it as we went.
Q. I mean, this is the second straight day you're in here. Yesterday was your first win as a driver here. Can you just take us through what your emotions were this weekend?
KEVIN HARVICK: It's been a really calm week for us. Like I said earlier, we've kind of tried to do our own deal and just really concentrate on getting our cars to handle. It's pretty incredible, to be honest with you, to finally break that wall down and then win two days in a row, and then win the biggest race of the whole season.
It's a lot of fun. It's a lot of hard work that our guys have put in over the winter and over the past years to get to this point. I've probably screwed more of them up than I have done good.
You know, it's been a lot of fun to be a part of this weekend. To win the Saturday and Sunday race just makes it that much sweeter.
Q. And then just for Richard real quick, yesterday when you came in here you said you wanted to scream and jump on the table, so how are you feeling right now?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: The same deal. I may do it anyway (laughing). This is such a great race and so much goes into it. You know, it's such an international event, everyone all over the world watches it. To be a part of it and to win it, I think it's great. Whoo.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations. Thank you very, very much.
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