2012 NSCS Quicken Loans 400 Pre-Race Q&A with Team Chevy Driver, Kevin HarvickPress Release
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER FOLDS OF HONOR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed the tire issues that his team experienced yesterday in testing, road course racing and other topics.
TALK ABOUT HOW THE CAR IS RUNNING, YESTERDAY’S TEST AND WHAT YOU ANTICIPATE OUT THERE TODAY AND AGAIN ON SUNDAY:
“The speeds are way up compared to a lot of the race tracks that we race at. Our car ran good yesterday we had a few tire issues on three of the four tires in the long run that we had. That is really our only concern. It’s really not about the speed of the car anymore or how it handles. It’s really about making the tires survive. That is our biggest goal going forward.”
COULD YOU ELABORATE A LITTLE BIT MORE ON THE TIRES ISSUES? I KNOW OTHER DRIVERS WERE TALKING ABOUT BLISTERING YESTERDAY DID YOU HAVE SIMILAR ISSUES?
“Yes, they were blisters, mainly on the left-side tires more on the left-front than the left-rear and along with the right-rear. That is our biggest concern right now is we’ve seen several of those situations through the garage. I don’t know that many people ran enough laps to really get to the blistering point. It’s either going to come down to the race track getting more rubber on it and the speeds slowing down or it’s just going to come down to you slowing down and managing the pace to keep the tires on the car.”
IS THERE SOMETHING MAGICAL ABOUT TURNING A LAP AND LOOKING AT THE SHEET AND SEEING THAT YOU GUYS ARE OVER 200 MILES PER HOUR?
“I don’t even look at the speed. To be honest with you it’s really all about time for us. It’s just a matter of how fast that computes to. I saw that it was fast speed wise but it’s really all relative to what we do. The track is really wide and after you get past about the first five minutes of practice you just kind of settle in to being comfortable with whatever environment that you are in on that particular weekend. Whether it’s 200 plus here or shifting and hitting your marks next week at the road course it’s just a matter of whatever that environment is that is what you settle into. It’s kind of like you guys showing up and hooking your computer up in here (media center) it’s just what you do on a weekly basis.”
(MATT) KENSETH LEADS THE POINTS AND HE’S KNOWN FOR HIS CONSISTENCY WHEN YOU SEE HIM RUNNING WELL AT THIS POINT OF THE YEAR DO YOU THINK OF HIM AS A THREAT FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP? OR AFTER WHAT TONY (STEWART) DID LAST YEAR DO YOU NOT EVEN LOOK AT WHAT ANYBODY IS DOING NOW AS FAR AS WHO MIGHT CONTEND?
“I think you just look at the guys that wind up making the Chase. You look at any of them as people that could be a threat to win the championship. I think last year we led the points sporadically and year before we led for most of the season. It didn’t all work out for us so I like where our cars have been performing. We haven’t capitalized on any of the stuff that we’ve really done this year. Hopefully, by the time it rolls around Chase time we can still be in it and have everything flowing the way that we like it.”
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE OF A RETURN TO TESTING ESPECIALLY NEXT YEAR?
“No. I think if it was obviously, we test as teams but we don’t need more. If it was the testing that we’ve already done allowed at the particular race tracks that we raced at that would be great but to do the testing that we do and then add in more testing it’s really not about me or Shane (Wilson, crew chief). It’s really about the guys on the team. Just because this month they went from Pocono they had to be there Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. They came here Wednesday night worked Sunday night when they got home, Monday, Tuesday in the shop. We are doing some road course testing next week and have to be in Colorado on Tuesday morning so those are the guys that I feel badly for. I will do whatever. I can test every week if that is what they want me to do, but it’s really not productive for us in the shop and requires a tremendous amount more people. You are talking about the price goes up. I think that if there were like we used to have it three to five, seven whatever that number may be that NASCAR allows us it would keep us from going to Nashville’s and the places that we go to test that you try to make a guess. You would get much better information if you could go to the right race tracks for sure, but not more. We don’t need more.”
“I have no idea.”
“I think we are just looking for a better alternative. I think that is the key is finding an alternative that is closer to what we are going to see in Sonoma. It’s just something different. In the end it’s really not about the car. It’s really about getting me in a rhythm and getting everybody in road course frame of mind. I know nothing about the particular track that we are going to. I don’t even know what part of the state it’s in. They chose it and we will show up and see how it works out. Regardless as long as you are shifting gears and being able to stomp on the brake pedal for me it’s great to get in a rhythm the week of the race.”
IS THE TIRE BLISTERING AN ISSUE? IS IT SOMETHING THAT WOULD BE INDICATIVE OF COMING TO A REPAVE OR IS IT MORE THAN THAT?
“I think I can put it into pretty easy perspective. I think we didn’t blister any tires last week and it was a brand new repave so it’s just something that you just never know when you get to a new race track how fast everybody is going to run. That’s really the hardest thing that Goodyear has to deal with is when you come to a new race track and you come to test a couple of months before the race and you try to do the best job that you can to get the speeds where they need to be. I think yesterday we ran a second faster than what they ran at the test. It’s probably I think they tested and it was 40 or 50 degrees up here. It’s going to be 90. You are looking at you know a 40 degree swing of whatever the high was that day to what we are going to race in. That is virtually impossible job until you get on the race track. A lot of times you see these problems and you get in the race and the pace slows down like it did last week. We ran a second slower than I really thought we would run and probably a second and a half slower than what we ran in race trim in practice. That takes care of a lot of the problems. Now from yesterday the teams have on their minds that we need to take care of the tires so it tends to be a little less aggressive from set-up wise. That is probably good that it happened yesterday and didn’t just pop up on a day like today that you don’t have any more practice. I think that is really why we come to these things a day early to see. There are going to be new problems, new challenges and that is the benefit of coming in a day early. You just go out and you will know where you are by the time practice is over today.”
THE NO. 31 TEAM PERPLEXES ME A BIT. IN AN ERA OF SUCH OPEN BOOK INFORMATION SHARING AMONG ORGANIZATIONS AND CARS BEING BUILT ON THE SAME FLOOR HOW IS ONE TEAM SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE OTHER ONES?
“You know I don’t think they have been as bad as the results have shown. They got off to a slow start for sure. I think as you look at the last few weeks they have run a lot better and that is the hard part. We redid everything at the beginning of the year. I think myself and Shane (Wilson, crew chief) had the luxury of knowing each other and working together before. That got us going a little bit quicker. It still didn’t come off as we would have all, as quickly as we would have all liked it to. As it has progressed the performances have been pretty good. We have made a number of mistakes and I think it has just taken those guys a little bit longer just to get everything rolling. I don’t think that the last few weeks have been that bad for them. I think last week he was sitting eighth or ninth. I don’t even remember what happened it seems like the weeks have run together but they just have to keep working at it.”
YOU HEAR FANS TALK ALL THE TIME ABOUT THEY MISS THE DAYS OF WHEN THERE WAS A LITTLE ASPECT OF DANGER OUT ON THE TRACK. DO THESE SPEEDS, TIRES BLISTERING AND EVERYTHING BRING BACK THAT TO THE SPORT A LITTLE BIT?
“Sometimes you just want to slap them don’t you? (laughs) It’s just one of those things it’s just a matter of what you want to see. Regardless of what you do whether it’s a 190 or 215 it’s still pretty darn dangerous not matter what you do. It’s just one of those things where I have learned a long time ago that you are going to have a group of people that are happy and a group of people that are never happy. You just do your own thing and you let the suits of the world try to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong for the sport.”
YOU HAVE BEEN PRETTY SOLID AT SONOMA THE LAST TWO YEARS IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN ATTRIBUTE TO THAT AND CAN YOU JUST TALK ABOUT SONOMA IN GENERAL?
“I really enjoy the road course stuff. It’s been something that we only get to do a couple of times a year on the Cup side. We have been fortunate to be able to put effort into our cars and preparation time to be able to go there and be competitive. It would be nice to get the first win on that particular track in the Cup series. It’s always fun to win in your home state as we got to do last year at California Speedway. It would be nice to check that one off the list. Always a lot of family and friends and I really enjoy going out there and spending a few days.”
THERE SEEMS TO BE A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN BECAUSE OF ALL THE SAFETY INNOVATIONS CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY WHAT YOU DO TAKES SUCH PRECISION AND WHY IT IS SO DANGEROUS FOR THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE PERHAPS THOUGHT THAT IT’S NOT WHAT IT ONCE WAS? CAN YOU EXPLAIN A SITUATION AND WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN A SPLIT SECOND SO THEY CAN REALIZE THAT WE ARE SEEING THE SAME THING THAT WE HAVE WATCHED FOR 50 YEARS EVEN AT A HIGHER RATE OF SPEED WITH 25 CARS THAT NOW HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO WIN EACH WEEK?
“We will just use the rich kid syndrome as an example. You see a lot of guys that sit back and watch it on TV and their kids want to come in and be race car drivers. They come in and you never even hear about them see them and it’s just not something that money can buy. It’s one of those things where you have to for me I grew up from the time I was five years old until I was at this point in my life. You take all those lessons and you go out and you take your experience on the race track and you perform. You have a pretty tight small group of guys that can go out and put this type of stuff the fears of the sport and the fears of the danger or whatever you would put that into and you take it all and you go out and you make it I guess it looks easy from a television perspective. But you don’t see the average Joe or (Juan Pablo) Montoya is really the only one that has come from an open wheel background that has even been close to competitive. You look at what those guys do and it would probably be hard for us to go over there and do what they do. It’s a tough sport. I think it’s become so precise and the fact that you have engineers and you have drivers that have done it for a long time and the cars drive so much better than what they did in years past it’s not easier it’s just more refined. There is more time and effort put into every piece of everything that happens. It’s not something that anybody can show up and do. I think that has been proven for years as you have gone into a lot of different scenarios whether it is open wheel guys, rich kids, whatever it may be. Most of them aren’t competitive.”
HAVE YOU HEARD FROM YOUR BUDDY JEFF CARTER SINCE HE WON THE STANLEY CUP? FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO SEE A GOOD FRIEND OF YOURS REACH THE PINNACLE OF HIS SPORT?
“We have talked to him a few times throughout the playoffs and been to several games throughout the playoffs. To see his enthusiasm and excitement and when you get to a professional level it’s just like Lee’s last question. Whether they make hockey look easy or we make racing look easy or whatever the case may be when you are involved in something your whole life and you reach the thing that you have dreamed about from being a kid and you are able to achieve that goal it’s just something that most people don’t get to. They visualize it but they don’t get to be a part of it and experience it like they did. It was exciting to see from getting kicked out at Philly and going through his Columbus stuff and to be able to come back and win the Stanley Cup is something that is pretty neat. He achieved the top honor in his sport and it’s fun to be able to have somebody that you call friend to be able to achieve that and watch his excitement throughout the whole thing.”
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Source: Team Chevy, Press Release
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