NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
GOOD SAM 500
PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 11, 2016
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) and discussed his success at PIR, his plans to go home to Bakersfield, California next weekend, his plans for 2017 and many other topics. Full Transcript:
WHAT MAKES YOU SO GOOD HERE AT PHOENIX?
“It’s obviously been a great race track for me personally, but really for the last two years at Stewart-Haas Racing it’s been phenomenal. We have won three of the four races and got beat by the rain in the last one. All-in-all it’s been a lot of fun to come here. For me personally, this is a fun place to come just for the fact that I started racing here in the mid-90’s and you still see a lot of the same fans and people that followed your career up through the ranks. I love coming out here and look forward to getting another weekend started.”
OF THE THINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED, THE NEW DOWNFORCE PACKAGE, THE TIRES, WE CAN MAKE A LIST OF THINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED. HOW MUCH OF THAT REALLY AFFECTS YOUR DOMINATION?
“I think there are still a lot of the same characteristics of the old track, especially on entry into Turn 1 and the way that you go through Turns 3 and 4 and how you use the brakes and apply the pressure to the pedal. If they ever move those cones going into the corner, I’m in deep crap. I won’t know where to let off. Hopefully, they don’t ever move the cones and we can continue to have the same type of rhythm. For me, I grew up racing on the West Coast. We grew up on a lot of these flat style type race tracks, short tracks up and down the West Coast. For whatever reason all the flat tracks have just kind of still fit my driving style throughout the years, whether it be here or Loudon, but obviously this place we have had a lot more success than some of the others.”
IS THE NEW DOWNFORCE PACKAGE GOING TO MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE?
“It’s definitely going to be different. I think the temperature is exactly what everybody would want to see with what the rules package is with the low downforce, the softer tire. Hot weather should make for some ill handling cars to drive. I think as drivers and as a sport that is really what we are all looking for.”
TODAY IS THE 15TH ANNIVERSARY OF YOUR FIRST SPRINT CUP VICTORY. DOES IT SEEM LIKE YOU HAVE BEEN DOING THIS THAT LONG? IS THERE ANYTHING THAT STANDS OUT FROM THAT MEMORY?
“It doesn’t seem like it’s been 15 years it seems like it has been 30. It just seems like so long ago and so much has changed. But obviously 15 years is a long time, but I think as you look at that first win it was just such a weird time. So many different emotions and different things happening and there was so much happening that you didn’t even know was happening. One of the faults that I probably still have to this day of not taking in things to remember of what is actually going on on that particular day. Still the only thing I remember about that day in Atlanta were the people hanging on the fence as we came to the white flag on the backstretch. I don’t know why I remember that, but that is really the only thing that I remember from that day.”
DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING COOL/FUN/EXCITING PLANNING BACK HOME IN CALIFORNIA?
“Yeah, I actually went home to North Carolina this week and spent the week at home there. We will drive from here to Bakersfield (California). We have a few things planned with the (Kevin Harvick) Foundation that we will unveil Wednesday at the Boys and Girls Club there in town. Looking forward to that and always fun to be able to give back, but this has been a pretty big project for us and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation to be involved with the Boys and Girls Club there. I look forward to showing it off to everybody on Wednesday.”
THE WEATHER IS GOING TO BE INCREDIBLY HOT TODAY AND THEN 20 DEGREES COOLER ON SUNDAY FOR RACE DAY. HOW BIG OF AN ADJUSTMENT IS THAT GOING TO BE FOR YOUR TEAM?
“I think today is kind of its own beast because there is not going to be a ton of rubber. There is going to be rubber on the race track, but it’s not going to be as much as there will be come Sunday morning. I think as you look at today it’s kind of an isolated day. You will go out and get a rhythm and just kind of see what you have in race trim and then it will be all about qualifying tonight. Tomorrow is really when things kind of kick into gear as far as getting your race set-up and everything situated for the weekend. It’s definitely going to be warm, which I think is a good thing.”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF COMING BACK TO THE VALLEY? MAYBE SOME HOT SPOTS YOU HAVE TO GO TO AND VISIT?
“I don’t really have any hot spots. I stay pretty much at the track and try to focus on the things I need to focus on here. My favorite part about coming back to this particular race is the race. That’s what we come here to do. I’m usually not the person that is going to go out and have a lot of fun. I’m going to come here and try to do the best job that I can and focus on the race.”
AUSTIN DILLON IS TOP 10 IN POINTS. HE SEEMS TO BE RUNNING BETTER. YOU KNOW HIM AND HIS TEAM FAIRLY WELL. IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU SEE THAT HE IS DOING BETTER THIS YEAR THAN HE HAS IN THE PAST?
“I don’t think it has anything to do with… I mean the team is obviously different, but I think most of it has to do with Austin. I think Austin himself is a student of the sport and he’s paid attention to what he needs to do, how he needs to do things and he continuously gets better. It’s not about where you can go and what you do. He wants to be fast in the race car. You can see that from the outside looking in that he wants to concentrate on his job and he wants to go out and get better each and every week. I think a lot of that really started to stem last year from the success that he had in the Xfinity car. As we went through the year the more success he had the better he got on Sunday. I think a lot of that just has to do with him getting better as a driver. He is in tune with what is happening on the race track and with the race car it seems just by looking in.”
THERE IS KIND OF A CAT AND MOUSE GAME GOING WITH NASCAR TAKING AWAY DOWNFORCE AND THE TEAMS TRYING TO GET THE DOWNFORCE BACK. HOW DO YOU STOP THAT GAME?
“That is going to continuously happen. Because that is really the team’s job to make the cars better and make things continuously get better. I think as you look at Atlanta and you look at Las Vegas I think as we move forward I think that everything is going to continue to get better just for the fact that Goodyear is going to get a better idea of how far they can go on the tires. Atlanta there was nobody who ran a full fuel run on a set of tires. That is really what everybody wants. But, you go to a place like Las Vegas and Goodyear gets into a little bit of a box because they can’t do what they did at Atlanta because the speeds are so high, the loads are so high and the cars wind up running so fast. You come to a place like this where they feel like they have been pretty conservative over the last several years and they are going to have a softer tire. We are going to have some warm temperatures this weekend and those are the type of things that we can’t control is the weather. When you see the overcast, cool, cloudy conditions like you had last week it kind of puts everybody in a box.
“But I think as we go through this particular season and we get closer to the middle of the year and the councils meet and they talk about what we want to do going forward. I know there has been a lot of conversation of continuously taking downforce off the cars and doing things to… there is going to be a set amount of downforce for the most part that happens every year. The teams they are going to continuously gain downforce. They are going to get smarter with the car, they are going to get smarter with the things they do. There has definitely been a lot of talk on continuing to take downforce off the cars in order to stay ahead of the teams. We will see how that evolves.”
WILL WE SEE YOU IN A FORD WITH STEWART-HAAS RACING NEXT SEASON?
“I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t happen. For me I’m in the best position that I’ve been in with my team. I feel like I have the best crew chief in the garage. It would be pretty tough to turn around and walk out on everybody who has been a part of building everything that we have built so far.”
WHEN JIMMIE JOHNSON WAS HAVING HIS STRETCH OF DOMINATION HERE WERE OTHER DRIVERS SUCH AS YOURSELF DID YOUR MISSION BECOME TWO FOLD NOT ONLY BEAT THE TRACK, BUT FIND A WAY TO BEAT JIMMIE?
“I don’t ever think about beating one person ever because this garage is too tough to beat one person. When one person is going to win half the races then we might do that. Right now there are just so many people that can win on a given week. If you look at last week and you think that the No. 2 and the No. 22 are out of it and the next thing you know the cautions all fall their way, they take a couple of chances and they are at the front of the pack. You never really know where the twists and turns of the race are going to go. The cars are so close and so competitive now that you have to have everything go your way on a particular day as well in order to win the races. It's never going to be about one car. There are 20 cars that can win on any given week in my opinion, no matter where you are.”
DO YOU FEEL THAT YOUR TEAM HAS GOT A GOOD GRASP SO FAR ON THE CHANGES? DO YOU FEEL JUST AS GOOD THIS YEAR AS YOU HAVE THE LAST TWO?
“Yeah, we had a pretty solid week. We have had a disastrous last two weeks in all honesty. I had a stomach virus last week and the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the race car; the week before we had no race engineer. Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and those guys kind of winged it at Atlanta. Three runs left in the race the brake pad broke in half of the left-front and had to drive the car with three brakes for the rest of the weekend. We have just had a lot of circumstances. We have got to get everybody healthy and get everybody in sync, but the cars have been plenty fast. We just hadn’t been able to get everything out of them just for one reason or another over the last two weeks. It seems like everything is going fairly well to overcome the things that we have in the last two race weekends.”
TALK ABOUT SIGNIFICANCE OF HAVING ONE OF THE ATHLETES YOUR MANAGEMENT GROUP REPRESENTS WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP:
“Well the first thing I want to do is say thank you to everybody. It seems like everybody has, especially in this room, has really caught on to just what we are doing with the UFC and you guys have been very supportive in the things you have written and talked about. I think it brings a lot to what we do around here, especially when she shows up at the race track with the belt. I think we had 100 or so people show up to the fight and most of them were from this garage. It’s been a situation that has been very supportive and to see Miesha (Tate) win the belt and see what that has meant to her and not only to her, but as the company at KHI Management and see all the things that is has brought to the table has been pretty eye opening. Just really proud of the things that she has been able to accomplish, but really everybody as a group from a KHI stand point. The hardest part was sitting in the motorhome by myself while everybody was there last week. Having to watch and not being able to be at the event. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. took care of making sure DeLana (Harvick, wife) didn’t get overwhelmed with everything that was going on. He had a good time and I know that Danica (Patrick) and Ricky (Stenhouse) and several of the drivers. Jimmie (Johnson) is always supportive of everything that we do in the ring. It’s been a lot of fun and originally that was what you thought it was all about and now it’s actually turned into real business that we actually have fun with. We are enjoying it.”
WHEN IS MIESHA’S NEXT FIGHT? HOW IS THAT DETERMINED?
“We are going to let Miesha go on vacation first and then we are going to decide. Everybody is going to sit down and talk about where the next fight will be. She is going to go to Australia for a couple of weeks and then we will worry about that.”