NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
AUTO CLUB 400
AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 18, 2016
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS met with media and discussed the new downforce package, his approach to the Fontana track this weekend, the upcoming break this week in the schedule, and more. Full Transcript:
TALK ABOUT THE PHOENIX RACE AND HOW THAT PLAYED OUT. HAVE YOU WATCHED IT ON TV SINCE THEN?
“Yeah, I’ve definitely seen it. And obviously, you wonder how things that play out like that actually happen. But now that I know more of the situation and how the guys behind us obviously had tires and we were more of a defensive position than I have asked about or was told. At that point, it really didn’t matter. So, it wound up being a great finish. We had a great car. We had the dominant car for the last 150 laps, or so. And it wound-up being really close with the strategy call. But, I think in the end, that’s really what the soft tires and low downforce and when you pit, you want it to matter and make a decision to see the strategies play out. In the end it was a great day and I’m glad to get the win out of the way.”
CAN YOU GIVE US A SENSE OF THE NEW DOWNFORCE PACKAGE SO FAR THIS YEAR, AND TELL US WHAT YOU THINK THE RACING WILL BE LIKE THIS WEEKEND IN FONTANA? HOW HAS THE PACKAGE IMPACTED THE RACING?
“As a driver, especially last week; when you look at myself and Dale (Earnhardt) Jr., and you look at the way you could go through traffic, it seems like the cars were affected a lot less by the aero push and being around each other. They seemed a lot less dependent on where you are in the field. Obviously they are still not going to be as good as they were if you were the lead car, but I think we’ve definitely made some headway. I think there’s obviously a lot of notes that have been gathered and from a driver’s standpoint, I think this is the race we’ve all been looking forward to the most just because of the fact that you have some high speeds and lots of racing lanes and the cars are going to slide all over the place. So, it’s definitely a weekend that we’re all looking forward to. This has probably been one of our better races over the past several years, so it’s going to be a fun weekend.”
THIS TRACK HAS SEAMS THAT AREN’T AT MOST TRACKS. HOW DO YOU ATTACK THE SEAMS? DO YOU TRY TO STAY IN BETWEEN THEM? DO YOU PUT YOUR TIRES IN BETWEEN THEM? AND, WHAT IS THE PENALTY WHEN YOU CROSS ONE ON A RESTART OR IN A RACING SITUATION?
“A lot of it just depends on how this particular package reacts to where the groove is going to go; straight to the wall….the left side is going to lay a lot of rubber. I was watching the race from 2011 and the left sides would actually keep the race track clean. So, right on the seams seemed to be pretty good because the race track was cleaner there. So, you just have to see how the race track rubbers-up. With this particular tire, the hardest part about the seams is just getting hung on one. That’s really what you don’t want to do. You want to have the tires just below or just above it and split it. But, if you have the tire right-on, it just grabs it like glue and it goes in the direction that you don’t really want to go in. So, you definitely have to try to split the seams and be off of it with the tire itself in order to make time.”
AFTER THE END OF THIS WEEKEND WE WILL HAVE FIVE RACES IN THE BOOKS. IS IT GOOD FOR TEAMS TO BE ABLE TO GO AND REGROUP? HOW WILL THAT HELP YOUR TEAM GOING FORWARD TO EVALUATE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE AND CONTINUE WITH THE SEASON?
“I think it’s definitely good for everybody to have a chance to recharge their batteries. The West Coast swing is hard and everybody as I’m sure a lot of you guys know. Just the travel and the way that the schedule is now you either have to stay out here or you are traveling back and forth. So, you are going back and forth in between time zones, but the logistics of the race cars are the hard part because there are six race cars that have to be prepared and ready to go when you take off from Atlanta. These aren’t any of the race cars that you can basically race at Atlanta. I guess you could race them here (at Auto Club Speedway), but you basically have to have 10 race cars ready because you have to go to Daytona. Probably 12 because you’ve got to go to the Shootout (Sprint Unlimited), so you’ve got to go to the Shootout, you’ve got to go to Daytona, you’ve got to go to Atlanta and you have to have everything ready for your West Coast swing. You are looking at 10 or 12 race cars that have to be prepared at the beginning of the year way in advance. Then the logistics of getting everything out and getting hundreds of people back and forth across the country wears on everybody. It will be a much needed break in order to kind of get into the meat of the season to not have to stay out west and do the things that it takes to run this West Coast swing.”
HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE DOES THE SPEED AND THE LAYOUT MAKE AS FAR AS LIFTING GOING INTO THE TURNS OR ARE YOU REALLY NOT GOING TO HAVE TO? HOW IS THAT GOING TO PLAY INTO THIS WHOLE PACKAGE?
“Oh you are going to have to lift a lot. You are probably going to have three seconds of fall off, maybe more, as you go through the run because the tires just fall off so fast. You are going to have a lot of straightaway speed because of the low drag, so yeah, there is definitely going to be a lot of off throttle time. I think the amount of time is going to change dramatically from the first lap to lap 30. It’s going to be a huge pace swing.”
RON HORNADAY WON A CHAMPIONSHIP FOR YOU GUYS WHEN YOU WERE A TEAM OWNER. HE IS ON THE LIST OF 25 NOMINEES FOR THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME THIS YEAR. WHAT DID HE MEAN TO YOUR ORGANIZATION WHEN YOU GUYS HIRED HIM AND BROUGHT HIM IN?
“I’ve known Ron (Hornaday) a long time. For me Ron was kind of one of my racing heroes as I grew up watching him race at Mesa Marin and in the Southwest Tour up and down the state. He has been very successful at what he has done. He did a lot of that on his own to start with. Obviously, he wound up with DEI (Dale Earnhardt, Inc.). I think as you look at where we were as a company he brought a lot of… he made our company legitimate from a racing standpoint. Because you brought in a champion, a winner and he continued to win. We won a couple of championships with Ron there. I think we won 40 or 50 Truck Series races. I think as you look at what he brought, he brought that instant approval of a winner and a proven champion and proven winner in himself. We knew we just had to get our stuff right and we were able to be successful together. I was fun to see him be successful at the end of his career.”
WILL YOU AND YOUR TEAM SET UP THE CLOCK SUNDAY NIGHT TO SEE WHAT YOUR SISTER TEAM IS DOING IN F1 IN AUSTRALIA?
“Man, that time change is so much different. I was watching the Twitter feed and they were out there practicing and doing all the sliding into the gravel pit, I saw one time. We are definitely keeping up with it. It will definitely probably be on the DVR though. I don’t think it will be live. We will definitely be watching.”