NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Aaron's 499
Topics: Aaron's 499
April 25, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We have Kevin Harvick here with us. He's on a short turnaround but we'll make it happen. Joining us now is the race winner of today's Aaron's 499, and that is Kevin Harvick. He drives the #29 Shell PENNZOIL Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. Kevin, congratulations on the win. Take us through the last few laps.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, well, obviously we were tight on fuel. We were able to save enough gas to get where we needed to be for all the green-white checkereds. Once we kind of got past that window, it was just all about timing, and the timing worked out exactly how we wanted it to work out. We knew coming into the tri-oval we needed to be second, and he moved to the right and I moved to the left, and that was it.
Q. On that last pass there at the line, was that more a matter of you being able to loosen Jamie up, or was this a little bit of a flow back to the old slingshot draft 101 there?
KEVIN HARVICK: No, I think yesterday in practice you saw a lot of guys practicing that, and you have basically one move; as long as you stayed against their bumper you were able to shoot past them, and then as you shot past them it slowed down them and you could stay ahead for several hundred feet there until they drew back even. It just worked out absolutely perfect on the timing side of it.
THE MODERATOR: Kevin is owned by team owner Richard Childress. Congratulations, you're certainly no stranger to winning here at Talladega, but this one has got to feel good.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: This is about as sweet as it gets. This is as good a race as you can see at Talladega. I think it broke a record for lead changes, and the spoiler and everything on the cars worked great. And I talked to Kevin, I was talking about it, I said, I don't know if you want to be in the lead, and he was right, second place was the place to be.
Q. Kevin, when you were talking about what y'all were practicing out there, is that more a function of drafting or slowing the other guy down, loosening him up? Is it air?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, it's air. You get right against the bumper and as soon as you pull to the left and you get the front of your air pushing against his spoiler, it immediately slows that car down, and until you break all the way out, you're not pushing all the air that the front car is pushing, so you've got a couple things working for you.
Q. Kevin, is it fair to say the Daytona 500, the green-white checkered rule, would you have maybe won that race if not for that rule, and then it comes back today, ironic, and then you win today because of the rule?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I remember Gil being kind of down in the dumps and telling Mike Helton, he said, that rule sucks. Mike patted him on the back, and he said it'll all come full circle. And today it's all worked itself out and we were able to finish it off.
Q. Richard, you as a team, this is your first points victory, I believe, since October of 2008. It comes at a time when you're trying to put together a new sponsor deal for next year. How big is this?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: This is a great win for Kevin and myself. You know, we've had good cars. You know, I think we won the Daytona 500 or 499 or whatever it was, and in the 510, we just didn't win the Daytona 520. We've been right there, had a good shot at California and we got the cars running good. I really feel good about everything the 29 team has got going right now. We want to win that championship.
Q. Kevin, Juan called it the best show that you probably could have seen. What did you think of the "have at it, boys" mentality out there and all the record lead changes, the racing end of it?
GIL MARTIN: Yeah, we spent the first part of the day just really trying to protect ourselves making laps and waited until like about 50 or 60 laps to go to go, and it's a lot easier for us to race when we're not trying to figure out the rules, we just kind of do what we do, and everybody is pretty good at the bump drafting stuff now, especially here because the grip is so high.
Q. Kevin, you said you had to wait until you got to the try-oval there, but how hard was it not to just kind of jump -- you said it was timing. How hard was it for you not to make that move the whole day?
GIL MARTIN: It was hard because we had a -- we don't like to sit back there and really just kind of protect our car the first part of the race. But the last four or five times here we've wrecked, and we did not want to wreck today. I know we finished on the stats sheet, but we had tore up race cars, and we wanted to finish the race at least not wrecking the first half the race and get way behind. So that was hard. But we made a plan before the race, and I'm telling you, every piece of it played out exactly how we wanted to play it. We put four tires on the car when we wanted to, we pitted when we wanted to, we stayed out of the pack when we wanted to until it was time.
And then coming into the last lap, that's exactly how we planned it out on paper, and it's hard to not pull out, but I could say that we were way in front of all the guys behind us with the push that I was able to give Jamie there.
And when he made that dart to the right, I immediately went to the left.
Q. There was 88 lead changes I think amongst 29 leaders, records on both accounts. Do you attribute that to the bigger restrictor plate, to the wing, to the "have at it, boys"? Is there something in particular that caused that or a combination of all of them?
GIL MARTIN: I think it's a combination of a lot of things. I think a lot of people put a lot of effort into the spoiler and restrictor plate size and making sure that the racing was what it needed to be. I think that they're all contributing factors in some way.
Q. Would you like this package at Daytona? It's going to be repaved, nice and smooth, sort of a small Talladega. Do you feel comfortable going to Daytona like this?
GIL MARTIN: It'll be a lot different because it's so much narrower. I think you'll see -- I think Daytona could become the new Talladega with more carnage because it's so narrow.
Q. What is it about this track that something always seems to happen the last lap or so and gives the fans a thrill?
GIL MARTIN: Yeah, I think the draft obviously has a lot to do with everything that's going on, and everybody has become so good at drafting and timing and really doing what they need to do. The guy in second is really -- can make something happen with the first car, and there's a lot of cars that were pushing each other, so there's just a lot of moving pieces that can make a lot of exciting finishes.
THE MODERATOR: Kevin, Richard, congratulations.
Gil, you haven't won as an organization since 2008. How significant and how big is this for the whole organization? What kind of lift will it give you?
GIL MARTIN: Well, I just think it shows everybody exactly what we were talking about going into the season, that the team, we really structured a lot of things this winter, and all of us have been strong. The 31 and the 33 have been strong; everybody is running up front. I hate what happened to the 31 today because he also had an extremely strong car.
But with everything that's going, on I think this just shows everybody -- I hate that Shell PENNZOIL is leaving, but the fact of the matter is we've got a top-notch team, so we're looking for somebody to come on board and start the next chapter at RCR with them.
Q. What about the gas situation? This thing with 200 laps, how do you plan for that? Were you just lucky? Did you have any gas at the end?
GIL MARTIN: Well, you don't really plan for it, but what you do it -- we knew right at the end, we stretched it one extra lap on everybody on that last green-white checkered. I think the lap was 147, and we knew at that point that we had five laps to spare for a green-white checkered.
But what you can't factor in is how many laps it's going to go during each one of those cautions. So immediately when that caution came out, I can't remember the lap, you'll have to help me, 182 or something, we immediately started telling Kevin to save fuel, cut the engine off, and it's hard to factor how much fuel that actually saves. But every time we run a caution lap, you're looking at 2 to 1, so we knew we had it bumped up to around lap 200.
We were just glad that that last caution -- it was a pretty fast cleanup. I think it was to our benefit the Nationwide race was today because everybody was really -- the cleanup guys were on their job.
Q. Gil, Kevin talked about the timing of that move and practicing it in practice on Friday. What kind of role did you play in all that? Were you just out of it? Were you quiet the last few laps, or could you kind of help Kevin determine what he should try to make that pass?
GIL MARTIN: I'd like to say that I taught him how to do that, but I can't do that. We had a strategy before the race started, and every year here we usually race up front, try to put on the show, lead a lot of laps and race up front, and we end up crashed. So today we knew that we were going to race conservatively in the beginning and try at about lap 50 to get going. A couple of points during the race he made that move, somewhat made that move, so he knew what he had to do, and I think if you go back and listen to any of the transcripts, with about 15 or 20 to go, he pretty well called that move. He told our spotter we wanted to be second.
We were running with Kyle Busch at that time, but he wanted to be second coming into the tri-oval because we knew once that we went to the left side of him that the air was going to catch that car in the front, and we ought to be able to side draft down the hill of the tri-oval to the start-finish, and that's exactly what happened.
Q. About that pass, though, is it nerve-wracking to know that he has to wait so long to make that pass? I mean, like don't, not yet, not yet, not yet, and it just came out perfectly?
GIL MARTIN: It's extremely nerve-wracking because we were worried about trying to pass. We were worried about running out of fuel, and you're also worried about running out of fuel with somebody right on your rear bumper, too, because that could have caused some kind of calamity. But the fact of the matter is, and I hate to show my age, but that was a tremendous pass just like the old days, like you would have seen Buddy Baker or Cale Yarborough or anybody do here. That was a tremendous pass, and it was timed perfectly.
I have to applaud the whole deal because the cars were able to slingshot and pass like that. When we pulled out with the wing, we kind of stalled out. But with the spoiler, the cars can get the side draft that we've been able to get in the past few years here and just able to propel you right by the next car. It wouldn't last but about half a lap, or maybe not even that far, half a straightaway, but at least it still worked.
Q. Got to ask you, I mean, obviously Roush has their teammates over at RPM; Hendrick has their teammates over at SHR. At the beginning of the race the 29 backed down with the 33 and the 1 and the 42. It looks like you guys had a plan, but it also looks like you guys have found teammates with your ACR, I guess, engine connection. Can you kind of address that and how they've been able to help you guys?
GIL MARTIN: Well, I think it's worked out well because of the fact that we all are communicating well together. We really didn't set out to have that plan at the start of the race, but I think as the spotters started communicating with one another and each pit box started communicating with one another, we pretty well knew just because of our ties with the engine shop that anything that we told them we were going to do, we pretty well did, and they did the same thing.
They wanted to go racing a little bit earlier than what we wanted to, because I think they took off with about 60 to go or something like that, and we weren't quite ready to go at that time. So we kind of hung back a little bit, and there were several of the guys that rode with us right there. Clint did a good job riding with us, and it was able to get us back to the front.
Q. Kevin mentioned that this was a plan, and it seems that your plans are working pretty well this year. You've staying at the top for most of the season. Let me ask you, is it a plan -- do you guys have time to go over these things, or is it the next race starts to come and long and you've got to start working on that next plan?
GIL MARTIN: Well, fortunately or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, we've been together tied at the hip for almost three weeks by the time we had the extended stay in Texas, went straight from Texas to the Indy tire test, and then straight to here. We've had a lot of opportunities to play this race out, whereas in the past maybe we haven't formulated a plan like we did today.
But I wish I had it on paper, everything that we talked about, because I don't think it could have happened more picture perfect than everything happened today. It was just one of those days that whatever we tried to do, it actually worked.
The only thing of the whole day that didn't work is when we drafted with the 11 to the front. I think the 6 kind of got in the mix, hung us out, and we went all the way back to 18th or 19th before that last pit stop, and that kind of threw a little bit of wrench into some of the things we were doing. But for the most part, everything went exactly to plan, and those days don't happen very much.
Q. You're pretty vocal, I guess a lot of guys are, about repaving at Daytona. Perhaps it's going to change the racing at Daytona. This is the kind of package you're going to have at the Daytona for the 500 next year, and this is the kind of racetrack you're going to be racing on, but it's going to be narrower. Can you talk about the Daytona 500 next year from what you saw today and this particular aerodynamic and play package?
GIL MARTIN: Well, I think as far as the package, it's going to work well at Daytona. The only thing that I like seeing about the Daytona track is just the fact that the track is wore out and it goes down to you've got to make the cars handle. Here it's a big strategy race, and the drivers have really got to play a chess game the whole time exactly what they're doing.
At Daytona you're basically -- you've got to get your car to handle. It's not just about pure speed because you do have to get in and out of the throttle a lot. I just hope if they do repave it that's what they do, that they use some asphalt that will grain up really fast, and instead of being the smooth, slick asphalt, I hope it keeps the bumps and just fixes the holes.
THE MODERATOR: Gil, thanks for being in here today, and congratulations on the win.
GIL MARTIN: Okay, thank you.
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