PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 BUSCH LIGHT CHEVROLET SS met with media when Qualifying was cancelled due to inclement weather. Harvick will start from the pole position in Sunday’s Richmond 400. Full Transcript:
TALK ABOUT HOW YOUR PRACTICE WENT HERE TODAY. GETTING THAT FIRST PIT STALL SELECTION IS IMPORTANT HERE AT RICHMOND. JUST TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK FOR SUNDAY’S RACE:
“We had decided to come into the weekend and approach Qualifying a little bit different just for the way that the race tracks have been and the timing of our practices, and things. So, we decided to go and try to take advantage of being the first car on the race track, which is usually a pretty big advantage here when the track is green and doesn’t have a lot of rubber on it. And so, it worked out today; and Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and everybody had a good plan and it will be interesting just for the fact that the second and third times out weren’t near what the first time was because the tires fall off, which is great. And I think it will be exciting for the race to see where the falloff goes and being in the day there are a lot of things that lead toward a fun day from the driver’s seat and hopefully it will be fun to watch.”
WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO HAVING TONY STEWART BACK OUT AT THE TRACK AND NOW RACING? IS THERE A BOOST FOR THE TEAM, GENERALLY SPEAKING?
“It’s been interesting just for the fact that I came to Stewart-Haas Racing to race with Tony, and obviously it’s been an in-and-out of the car situation for the last two and a half years. So, to see where he was from a personal standpoint over the time from when he got hurt and everything that happened, and see his interaction from the owner’s standpoint over the last several weeks has been very interesting to me, just to see how engaged he was and how excited he was and how relaxed and in to what was going on. You add all that enthusiasm and engagement that he’s had with us at the race track and now you put him back in the car and you can see that excitement to another level. So, I’m excited. You saw a little bit of a glimpse of what ‘retired Tony’ is going to do and be like and how he’s going to be around and interact with the team, and I think it looked like he liked that role and he liked to be a part of it. Obviously he wants to be back in the car and wants to race and finish the year, but I liked the feeling and the sense that I got from where he was and how he was acting. But, it’s big to have him back in the car. We’re all excited as a sport and as his teammates to have him back in the car is always a good thing; and have that consistency moving forward with just one driver. Mike (Bugarewicz, crew chief) has done a great job and the team has done a great and the organization has done a great job in supporting him, but to have that consistency is going to be big for everybody.”
WHAT CAN YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THE DAY RACE LAST SPRING THAT YOU CAN USE THIS WEEKEND?
“I wish all the races were in the day to be honest with you, but that is just my personal preference. From the way it finished last year, I hope it finishes the same way with Stewart-Haas one-two. Kurt (Busch) and I ran very well and had good finishes, obviously, he won the race. Hopefully, we can start building off of where we started and ended last year and try to adapt that to the things we have learned with this style of car this year and have a good day. Looks like the weather is going to be great for Sunday and I think the way that the fall off over the brief amount of time that we were on the race track with the tires and seeing the rubber that laid down on the track, I think that is exciting as you look forward to the rest of the weekend.”
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE DRIVER’S COUNCIL EVOLVE? HOW MUCH MORE CAN IT GROW AND WHAT MORE CAN IT DO?
“I think as you look at the council and I think you look at last year everybody trying to fill out where we were and how it worked and how we functioned. Now you look at the communication that we have as a group that it was built from last year into this year, it’s important for everybody whether it is fans in the garage, owners, drivers, it’s important for the driver’s council and all of us to work hard to make this sport better. That is really our goal is to be a part of helping make this sport better. It’s just like yesterday, obviously, as a group we strongly didn’t agree 100 percent with what went down. We voiced our opinion and I think as we move forward we need to have an opinion and voice that opinion and have that be a unified voice from the council. I’m all about voicing my opinion. It’s not about, it’s nothing personal, it’s not pointing fingers or anything like that, but it’s the council’s job and those are the people that were voted in and on that council to represent the drivers and represent the garage from that standpoint. As a group, we want to help make this sport better and we are going to push hard for the things that we believe in.”
DO YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL THAT IT DOESN’T BECOME PERSONAL, LIKE YOU SAY, AND DISAGREE IN SUCH A PUBLIC FORM?
“I think everything is case by case. Obviously, as a group we 100 percent believed in low downforce. We really worked hard together to really try to make the low downforce package get on the race track. I think as we move forward I think everybody has seen the benefits of the low downforce. There is still a lot of room for improvement. As a group we talk every week, it may not be every day, but as a group there are conversations going on that are in 100 percent best interest of the sport to make it better in our opinions. Obviously, our opinions are 100 percent of the equation, but maybe it hasn’t been a third up until the last two years, but we are going to fight hard to have our third of the opinion heard.”
DO YOU DO ANYTHING THAT YOU WOULDN’T DO OTHERWISE TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE UP TO TOP SPEED RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE?
“For me personally, you just have to go and try to pay attention to things that have happened in the past, look at throttle traces, some dart fish stuff. I think you know those first two laps are basically the ones that you need to hit right. It’s fortunate from an experience stand point that you are able to have been here enough times to kind of know and see the places where you need to let off and lean on that experience. Normally, we would sit in the garage and not worry about the scoreboard and try to get real track conditions, but today was a different scenario with the way the weather was. You know that might be your only opportunity and how qualifying might be set.”
YOU GAVE DALE EARNHARDT, JR. A BUSCH LIGHT DIECAST TODAY. YOU’VE DONE THAT BEFORE YOU GAVE HIM A GIFT ON HIS FATHER’S BIRTHDAY OF ONE OF HIS OLDER CARS. WHAT IS THAT LIKE WITH YOU AND HIM TRADING DIECASTS AND DOING THAT KIND OF THING?
“I think a lot of people have gotten to know Dale, Jr. better over the past several years. I know being around the council and driving on his Xfinity teams has allowed me to get to know him a little bit better. He collects all kinds of stuff. Basically, most everything he does revolves around this sport. He loves this sport and he likes the history. He likes diecast cars, he has crashed cars everywhere on his property, he’s got everything to do about racing and he probably knows more about the sport in general than all of us sitting in this room together. It’s hard to find stuff for guys like that, that they don’t have or want. Anytime you get that opportunity it’s fun to be able to share that type of stuff.”