NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Ford 400
Topics: Ford 400
November 16, 2008
TIM HARMS: Okay, we're going to roll right into our post race press conference for the Ford 400 here at Homestead Miami Speedway.
We're pleased to be joined at the podium by our runner-up in today's race, that's Kevin Harvick, he drives the No. 29, Shell/Pennzoil CEF Chevrolet. Kevin also finished fourth in the series standings this year. That equals his best career performance in Sprint Cup racing. Also finished fourth in 2006.
Kevin, congratulations on that. Also joining Kevin is driver of the No. 01 Chevrolet for DEI, that's our 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup series, Raybestos Rookie of the Year, Regan Smith. Regan becomes the first rookie in the history of the program, that's 52 years, we're talking about, to not have a DNF. He is the first rookie from DEI. And he either shared or outright led in 26 of the 36 races this year. Regan, congratulations on that honor.
We'll start now with Kevin as race runner-up. Capped off a tremendous year for you. Your thoughts about maybe not only just this race, but your season on the whole?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think the first part of the year was really good for us. The last part of the year, we just kind of a portion that we didn't run that well. But buckled down and got our cars better at Chicago, and made a lot of headway, so I know we didn't win this year, but it's by far the best ten races at the end of the year we've had.
I think we're like an eight and a half or nine average finish, and still came up, I don't know, whatever the math is there, 200-some points short. That just tells you how good of a year that the 48 had. You know, I feel good about where we were the last ten weeks.
THE MODERATOR: Regan, congratulations on this award. Your thoughts about getting Rookie of the Year.
REGAN SMITH: Really excited about getting Rookie of the Year. It's a big deal. First driver from DEI to be able to get it. Not knowing what I'm doing next year, if I'm going to be part of the Ganassi-DEI thing or not. At least I've got that to take to them. Let Theresa put it in the trophy room. She gave me a great opportunity this year. Happy for Principal Financial, Chevrolet, and all my guys. Looking forward to what next year brings for me.
THE MODERATOR: Questions now for either Kevin or Regan, if you have a question, raise your hand.
Q. Congratulations. How big a deal is it for you personally to move up and finish fourth in points at the end of the year?
KEVIN HARVICK: That was our goal coming in here to try to get fourth in the points and win a race and we got half of that accomplished. And the car was good from the time when it loaded, and I really didn't think we were even racing the 99. I was just going as fast as I needed to go to keep the 26 behind me. I watched the 6 run out of gas, and I knew the 26 pitted with us.
So, I don't know. Maybe I should have gone faster, I don't know. But it's been, like I said, it's been a very consistent year. I told Delane before the Chase started, if we're going to have a chance to win the Championship, we're going to have to have a 22 in the Top 10 column.
That's the type of race team that we are. We're not the go out and dominate, we're just kind of wear them down by consistency type of team, and that's just always been the nature of RCR. And, you know, Talladega was probably our best, probably our best performance race in the Chase. I know we performed okay in a lot of them. But to come away from there with a 20-place finish and not capitalize and finish 13th in Atlanta after running in the top 5-All day, those two races put us a little further behind.
But you know, you can look back at a lot of things and do them different.
Q. Regan, how difficult is it to have this accomplishment, but have your future be to uncertain?
REGAN SMITH: This time of year, if you don't have it figured out what you're doing, it's always difficult. But it's something that at the end of the day, you know, you can put that on the shelf at the house and have that accomplishment. I'm very confident in my abilities as a race car driver. This year has been a tough year. It's a tough year for all the rookies. No excuses for that. It was a difficult year for the new car, that's all there was to it. I'm pretty confident I'll be driving a cup car for somebody next year. I just don't know which one. If not, I'll look forward to another two series and work hard to get back to this level.
Q. Kevin, when you look at going into next year, the success of the three teams, RCR performing in the Chase, compared to other years, are there things you think need to be done better? Do you see a lot of off-season preparation? How do you feel about going from this year to next year?
KEVIN HARVICK: I feel like we always start pretty strong. I mean, there have been years that we hadn't started strong. But I don't feel there is one particular thing we have to make better. I feel our pit crew is ready to win a championship. They perform well week in and week out.
You know, we just have to -- we just have to figure out how to lead more laps and just make everything a little bit better. I think that's -- I know that sounds dumb, but it's just a lot of little things that add up to be one big thing.
Like I said, the last ten weeks we had this year, if you look backed at last year's stats, I don't know how we were anywhere even involved in the Chase, and this year we were just very consistent. That's the first step to being really good.
Q. As you look back at the year, you know, you had what you thought was a victory at Talladega. Have you been able to get over that? How tough is that to still kind of look back and think to yourself, not only could you be Rookie of the Year, but you could be a rookie race winner?
KEVIN HARVICK: I don't know if you can ever get over that. It was a good opportunity to win the race. The series is so tough. I found that out firsthand this year, you don't know when those opportunities are going to come again. You have to take the bright spot that's came out of that day. Definitely got a lot of exposure. None of the rookies had had a competitive race up until that point. Our car was competitive the whole race. You know, you try to take the positives out of that, and I can lay down at night and feel confident saying that I felt like my guys perform well enough at Talladega to help me win a race, and they can do the same.
That's all you can do. It definitely would have helped to make the year a little bit better, but I guess the consolation, we also got the Raybestos Rookie of the Year thing, and that's a big deal. I'm proud to get that.
Q. Where were you -- did Kyle Busch run out of gas in the last lap, too? The white flag, we thought he was the guy that was chasing them down.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, they both ran out of gas coming to the white. Coming off turn 2.
KEVIN HARVICK: 18 and 6, yeah.
Q. We couldn't see it.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah.
Q. Were you a little bit surprised that the driver of the stature of Sam Hornish would come in with Penske, but not really give you much of a fight for that rookie title? You seemed to kind of being in control of that thing most of the year.
REGAN SMITH: We were in control of it most of the year. You know, at the end there, Sam really started turning it on towards the end of the season, the way the points thing shook down. I know a lot of the other rookies weren't in cars and the way the points shook down, it was kind of awkward this year.
But Sam's a talented race car driver. There's been a lot of places he was extremely quick this year. Mile and a half's he's been quicker than us at a lot of them. We've been quicker than him at some of them. But he'll work it out next year, definitely, and Penske's a good organization, and they're going to put good stuff behind him, for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Kevin and Regan, congratulations. Put on a good season for us. We appreciate it. Regan, congratulations on the Rookie of the Year.
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