NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Budweiser Shootout
Topics: Budweiser Shootout
February 7, 2009
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: We'll roll into the winner of the 2009 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, Kevin Harvick, team owner Richard Childress. This is Kevin's first Budweiser Shootout at Daytona victory. He's appeared in this event five times.
Kevin, congratulations. Certainly quite an exciting race out there tonight.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, it was. I told them on the way over here, they ought to cancel testing every year if you want to see a race like that. That was a lot of built-up racecar drivers that were really looking for something to hang out on the edge. I think everybody got a good show tonight.
Just want to thank all my guys. They did a great job. Our car was a little bit tore up before we even got to the 25-lap mark. We fixed it. Then I got stuck behind the 55, blew a tire, whatever happened, lost the draft. We came in and put tires on and worked our way back up to the front.
I think that next-to-the-last or last restart I guess it would have been, we wound up restarting fourth. Just wound up going to the bottom, then back to the middle. Then the 11 gave me one final shot down the backstretch and we were able to get by the 26.
KERRY THARP: Richard, you certainly had a lot of success here at this racetrack. Your thoughts about the victory here tonight?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It's got to be one of the most exciting ones for the Budweiser Shootout. Like Kevin said, for the fans, the price of admission tonight was well worth it. They seen a great race. To win any time at Daytona is great. The way Kevin did it tonight, in style, like the 500 a couple years ago, that's pretty cool.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now.
Q. Kevin, how sure were you, when you split the middle right there, there was enough room for a full racecar?
KEVIN HARVICK: At that point I didn't really care (laughter). I knew we had one shot. I told them on the radio. I said, we got one shot to win the race, and that's probably going to be up the middle. Not really where I wanted to be. At that point we got a good run going into the first corner. Denny kind of carried up high. We just kept that momentum. Luckily the car turned.
As soon as I got by Denny, he shot right down. He gave me a shot in the rear there. We were able to keep that momentum all the way down the back straightaway. But the hole wasn't very wide, just for the record (smiling).
Q. Darrel Waltrip said that car looked like it's been through Martinsville or something. Would the old car have taken a beating like this and still allowed you to be as competitive as this one was? Jamie said he moved up, and he thought he left little enough room by the wall that you weren't going to be able to squeeze in there. Was the confidence that this car will take a beating, was that a factor in you being able to go through that hole?
KEVIN HARVICK: I figured we were coming to the checkered. There wasn't really anything at stake. We'll just see what happens. Luckily everything worked out.
But, yeah, I don't think the old car would have stood up. We hit the wall pretty good there in the beginning of the race. It tore the left front fender off, split it at the seam there, with 25 laps to go. We were able to get that fixed.
This car, you know, it's tough. It's got that foam on the right side. If you can keep all the tires going in the same direction, the nose on it, you still got a chance. I think we hit the wall a couple times. I hit the 16 as he wrecked. It was an eventful night. We never gave up, though.
Q. It couldn't have been more than a second after you got past Jamie that the wreck happened. Can you draw any parallels between the way you came up tonight to the way you came up at Daytona two years ago?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think there's a lot of parallels as to the way this race and the 500 shook out. We were just closer to the front on that last restart. I think we restarted sixth or seventh in the 500. I think we were fourth tonight. It all kind of worked out the same way. In the end, we were on the top, coming off turn two with a head of steam. We were able to clear the pass there. Only difference was the caution came out this time because it was such a big wreck.
Q. Kevin, once you split the two guys, Jamie said he moved up and thought there wasn't going to be enough room on the outside. Do you have an aversion to leading more than a few hundred yards at this racetrack?
KEVIN HARVICK: I don't know. I told them earlier, I said, I guess if we're going to win, we have to make it dramatic. This is the way my whole career has been. We always seem to get there in the nick of time.
Hey, that's part of it. We were able to pull it off. I know that the one gap going between Denny and I think it was -- I don't know who was the other car, Johnson, but I thought the 26, I thought he stayed low. Maybe I was looking backwards when I went by him. I don't know.
Q. Kevin, when you lose the draft twice, I was thinking you were done for the night. How did you come back from that to win this race?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think the first time we just kind of rolled back there because the car was tight with that left front fender off. Wanted to take a look at the tires and make sure everything was okay.
The second time, you know, the car, we got it back competitive. We knew we had a break. Got it fixed at the break. We kind of hung out and made sure we didn't get anything tore up more than we already had. We knew we needed to fix the fenders and the side and everything.
But, you know, there when we lost the draft, we were right in the middle -- the first time coming back up through there, we just had to start over again. But the car was fast. It's been fast since we unloaded it. I know I was excited going into the race and thought we had a win -- a chance at the win. But it was fun to drive. Fun race.
Q. Kevin, you mentioned the ban on the testing. Were you concerned people were going to approach this, especially with the dilution of the field to include not just the pole winners, guys you were more accustomed to seeing in the front, were you concerned about the dilution of the field and whether guys were going to use this as a glorified test session?
KEVIN HARVICK: It was a glorified test session, to be honest with you. Every other time we've been in the Shootout coming here, it's like you got to get another car ready. It's usually your third best car. You save the two for the 500. It's a lot of work for the guys getting a third car ready, testing it, doing all the things you do with it. Then you got to go to Vegas, you got to go to Daytona, you have to do all the testing over the winter. I hope we cancel testing every winter. I hate testing.
So I think the enthusiasm, though, if you look they crew guys, they're not beat up from having to run across the country all winter. The drivers are excited to come down here. Everybody is excited to be at the racetrack, smell the fumes of the cars, drive laps. There's just that added enthusiasm.
It's like everybody got a wake-up call and said, Hey, we need to get our stuff together. We had never not been able to go to the racetrack and not test. Now you get to come to the racetrack and it's like taking your favorite toy away, it's almost like you got grounded for a few months, and now you get to come out and have fun with it again.
Q. Richard, Kevin, everybody's been talking about the gloom and doom, the economy, the layoffs, all the bad stuff that the been going on. It's all been pretty negative. Now we've had a really good race to start the season off. How important was it to have a good race to get things turned around in people's minds?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I think it was great. This was a great spectator's race. It was just all around a great evening. I think the 500's about sold out I was told tonight.
We have 75 million race fans out there. They're gonna watch racing, if they watch it at home. If they can't come to the race, they're gonna be watching it. The ones that can come, they got to see a great race tonight. I think they'll see a great 500 also.
KEVIN HARVICK: I think there's just a lot of ingredients that go into having a good race tonight. I think it was not being at the racetrack for all that time. I think everybody really wanted to go out and see what they had and push as hard as they could because there wasn't anything on the line.
I think we just got a lot better handle on the racecars from where we were last year at this time. The old car we ran, it was developed through, what, 10 or 12 years from start to finish. Basically that body style. You put a year under these guys' belts that work on these cars week after week, they get faster, they get easier to drive. Not that these things are easy to drive. They move around a lot. But it's just a lot of ingredients that go into it.
I think a great positive came out of tonight. I think the fans are gonna be pumped up. I know the drivers are pumped up to do whatever we can. Just excited to be a part of the sport right now.
KERRY THARP: Crew chief Todd Berrier for the Budweiser Shootout, your thoughts about how the race unfolded?
TODD BERRIER: You know, the race was pretty exciting to watch the whole time. We lost the draft a couple times. That's not really exciting. But you knew the way they were beating and banging, there were going to be cautions to catch us back up. Gets really exciting towards the end of these things. To be in the position where we were, fifth on the next to the last lap, be able to dice and do like we did, awesome to come away winning. If we can be up here talking next Sunday, that would be the main thing.
KERRY THARP: We'll continue with questions.
Q. Kevin, you had to come back up through the field a couple of times. This was the largest field in Shootout history. How much do you think the size of the field had to do with the contact and aggressive driving?
KEVIN HARVICK: It seemed like even when the field dwindled down there to a little less than what we usually have in a Shootout, we still had a little beating and banging. I think everybody was just really jacked up for tonight and just wanted to race. I think everybody just wanted to race really bad. Everybody was just gonna kind of throw caution to the wind.
It's just kind of the way it was tonight. It was a lot of fun to be part of.
Q. Todd and Kevin, did you guys have a particular strategy for the end of the race? Does it make any sense to try to have a strategy when you know guys are going to go four-wide?
KEVIN HARVICK: Before the race, Richard was telling me the first 25 laps don't mean anything. Todd always tells me to go as hard as I can. I just go somewhere in the middle, hope for the best (laughter).
Q. Todd, you probably were never happier to see a 10-minute pit stop. What did you do in that 10 minutes?
TODD BERRIER: There before the break, he got into it with somebody, a couple different times. Beat both of the fenders in. Split the left front fender. We had to rivet it back behind it, patch it, beat it out. Before that, the car got tight. It was from the fenders being knocked in. It was nice to have 10 minutes to do it. We used seven or eight of them. We welcomed it.
Having that break, everybody knows that, I guess it's kind of the way -- the reason things get tore up as much as they do. We had double-file restarts all night. We knew things were going to get beat up, and we knew we would get a chance to make it better.
Q. Kevin, back in testing Jeff said the organization needed to find a little bit more speed. Maybe a dumb question, but what was your assessment of that situation after tonight's race?
KEVIN HARVICK: Our car's been fast since we unloaded it. I felt like our cars were really good at the second half of the season. If you look at where we were a year ago, I think you can really put a lot towards the team and what they've done with the engines, what they've done with the cars. A lot of hard work has gone in to getting these cars where they were.
Last year at this point it was like, Man, I hope we can keep up with the draft. Since then, everybody just kind of put their head down and went to work. They came up with a good plan with the 33 car as far as developing some stuff.
Like I say, our car, I told them we could win the race after the first practice yesterday because our car was fast and it just handled good.
Is that a lie?
TODD BERRIER: That's right.
KEVIN HARVICK: One of those deals where you just felt really confident in what you had. The car was fast, so... I guess if you're looking for how fast the car was, it was fast today.
Q. You say your car was really fast. Jeff Gordon came over the radio late in the race with less than 10 laps to go and said, I think the 29 was hanging back there, just saving his stuff till the end of the race. Was that the case?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think it was just a matter of circumstances. We were going right off the bat. I think we made it up to eighth or ninth in the beginning, had the damage happen to the fender. I got right side in the wall all at the same time.
I think it was just circumstances more than anything. I know it might have seemed like we were lagging back there, but we were going as hard as we could go. Our goal was to get by a few of the cars that we felt like we didn't need to be behind that might cause a little accident here or there. In the end, I think we finally got to show our car being fast.
Q. Richard, can you give us an update on the engine problems from yesterday with Jeff's engine.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: We had a crankshaft that we had done some work with just to run in this race. I think we had a little too low oil pressure. If you seen Kevin and Kasey came in, we turned the oil pressure up and didn't have a problem with either one of those after that.
It's something that was a little different than we'll be running in the 500. This is a good place to bring it, try it. Now we know we got to run a little more oil pressure with it.
Q. I know this is the Budweiser Shootout, not a points race. Do you have the feeling going into this year that you can be the anti-Jimmie Johnson, the guy that can have a shot at winning the title this year?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think over the last five years we've had moments of everything that we needed to do, but we just need to put it all in one year. Last year from Chicago on, we ran in the top 10, top five every week. 2006 we won a ton of races. 2003 we were consistent. Just kind of fell behind in the beginning.
We've got all the ingredients. We've made a couple small changes to the teams. We added a team. We made a couple small changes within our team. It's a lot easier to take these teams apart than it is to build a championship team. We have good chemistry. I think we're all a lot calmer than we were five years ago and relaxed, really get along well with each other. So I think that means a lot.
I think our experience carries us when we're having a bad day. Like today, we could have all flipped out and had something crazy happen. But we all kept our heads on, stayed calm, wound up winning the race.
I'm not going to sit up here and promise you can beat that 48 because they've been hard to beat the last three years. Right now we don't think anybody can beat us.
KERRY THARP: Thank you.
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