Ford Performance NASCAR: Kevin Harvick Kansas

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Ford Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

KC Masterpiece 400 Advance (Kansas Speedway; Kansas City, KS)

Friday, May 11, 2018

 

Ford drivers Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Aric Almirola conducted separate Q&A sessions at Kansas Speedway this morning and discussed a variety of topics.  Here are transcripts of each press conference.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion – YOU HAD A STATEMENT WIN LAST WEEK AT DOVER.  WAS THAT A RESPONSE TO KYLE BUSCH WINNING THREE STRAIGHT AND IS HIS TEAM PUSHING YOU TO A HIGHER STANDARD?  “It wasn’t a response to anything  We got to the race track every week with the same approach of trying to lead laps and win the race.  I feel like we’re good at pushing ourselves and trying to get better throughout the year and I feel like the experience of our team is what pushes us.”

 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE POSSIBLE SALE OF NASCAR?  “I discussed all of that on Tuesday night and I think today it’s really about racing for me and trying to focus on what I need to do with my race team and make my cars go around the race track.  If I knew the specifics of it and even whether it’s true would make it easier to give you my opinion.”

 

YOU SAID ON TUESDAY THAT IT COULD BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE SCHEDULE TO HAVE SOME CHANGES.  DO YOU LOOK AT THE POSSIBLE SALE AS SOMETHING MORE OF AN OPPORTUNITY THAN TO BE WORRIED ABOUT?  “I think if you look at sales of businesses, and NASCAR is a business, at some point there’s always going to be talk about sales and there’s always going to be talk about transition of ownership and it’s something that happens in every business.  I think as you look at that the opportunities that come about when you have those situations, people don’t buy companies to make them worse.  I think that there’s always opportunity if there were a sale for something to get better.”

 

HAVE YOU SEEN DIVERSITY WITH THE CREWS AND IS IT IMPORTANT FOR THE FUTURE OF NASCAR TO DIVERSIFY?  “I think when you look at the NASCAR Diversity Program they’ve done a great job with that through the years.  I think we’ve seen a lot of graduates come through that particular program.  Obviously, on this particular side you have Darrell Wallace and Daniel Suarez who have been all the way through it.  I think just like the last question in any business you want to have as much diversity as you can because in our case the audience becomes interested in different things.  I think as you look at it I think everybody pushes toward that on a yearly basis, whether that’s the teams or NASCAR in general.”

 

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN IN BACK-TO-BACK WEEKS?  “I feel like this has honestly been one of our best race tracks as I’ve gone through the years, and especially since I’ve come to SHR.  I don’t feel like we’ve won as many races here as we probably should have – some of it of our own doing and some of it just circumstances, but we’ve always run really, really well here and, for me, I look forward to coming here for a number of different reasons.  Not only do we run well at the race track, but I think when you look at this race track, I saw it when it was just the race track and the highway here.  Now you look at what’s around it and everything has been built around what you’re sitting in right now.  To me, that is something that’s pretty neat to see just because of the fact that the race track was here first and it’s easy to get from the airport.  It’s one of the better race tracks on the schedule as far as convenience, in my opinion, because there is so much to do now.  It’s so conveniently off the highway and from the airport and the airport is easy to get in and out of.  There are just a number of things that I look forward to coming here and sitting in the casino watching the Truck race tonight eating dinner is not too bad either.  It’s just a good place to come and, like I say, we run well here, but it’s just a good experience and I just enjoy the surroundings of everything that is outside of the race track as well.  I enjoy that.”

 

WERE YOU SURPRISED BY MARTHA EARNHARDT’S COMMENTS THAT YOU WERE HER NOW HER FAVORITE RACE CAR DRIVER?  “It did catch me a little bit off-guard, to tell you the truth.  Seeing that comment from Dale Jr. and seeing the reaction from a lot of the fans is a lot of responsibility, obviously.  It’s like I said on the show Tuesday night, when you look at the Earnhardt family in general, the legacy they have in our sport from start to finish – from Ralph to Dale Jr. on down to what happens next, it’s a major backbone of what has happened in this sport and when you look at that I feel like I have a small part of where that changed and took place and where it’s going, so, for me, there’s a lot of pressure but also a lot of pride in that as well to try to do right, whether it’s for the family or for those old Senior fans you want to do the right thing.  I haven’t always done the right thing, but I feel as you go through the years you transition more into the right direction than what we did in the beginning, so that, to me, personally feels good.”

 

DO YOU THINK THE MANUFACTURER END OF THIS MATTERS AS MUCH TO FANS TODAY AS IT DID BACK THEN?  “I can tell you when we first switched from Chevy to Ford it was a major topic of conversation with the fans.  I think now that the fans see the cars are running fast and Ford is heavily committed.  There are as many Ford fans that have jumped on board that weren’t Chevy fans and a lot of the Chevy fans have stayed on board to support the team and it’s really become not a topic of conversation now.  But when we first switched it was surprising to see how much the manufacturer still mattered to the fans, which is good.  That’s what you need.  I mean, it would be great to see the fans stand up and boo for the guy that they don’t like.  You hear so much talk about wanting the drivers to be more vocal and do this, but they should do the same thing.  If you don’t like the guy, stand up and boo for him.  Stand up and cheer for your guy and be supportive.  Those are the types of things that the drivers like to see.”

 

ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT THE MUSTANG COULD STRUGGLE NEXT YEAR LIKE THE CAMARO HAS SO FAR?  “I don’t think you ever really know that answer until you put it on the race track.  I would put the aero side of things in this garage, our aero department up against anybody.  I don’t think anybody does a better job, so I think as you look at that project, you hope that it goes better than what you’re seeing from the Chevrolet side of things, but you just never know until you get on the race track.  It’s a tough project, but to have the Mustang back on the race track from a branding side of things is going to be pretty cool to be a part of, but I don’t anticipate that happening.  I think that we will do a better job.”

 

HAVE YOU NOTICED AN IMPACT WITH THE DATA SHARING?  “I feel like we do a really good job of utilizing all the information that is available to us and we utilize it.  It’s heavily utilized in our trailer.  How it’s utilized in everybody else’s trailer, I don’t know, but we use the tools that we have and try to maximize those tools to make sure somebody is looking at the stuff to pry all of the details out of what you can do better or what you’re doing good.  There’s a lot of information and you’d be crazy not to look at it.”

 

DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE MORE TOOLS NOW TOO?  “We have more tools on a daily basis.  As we’ve transitioned through the Ford side of things I just feel like every week we have another tool that’s being developed and utilized with the manufacturer and the teams and our guys in our trailer from an engineering standpoint and SHR in general do a good job of not saying, ‘Oh man, what is this?  This is dumb.’  Let’s look at it.  Let’s use it.  Let’s see what the benefits are of it and then figure out how we’re gonna put that tool in our tool box as to when it’s useful because being stuck in what you’ve always done is your worst nightmare.  If you get stuck in what you’ve always done, you’re in big trouble in this garage.  It’s a constant evolution on a weekly basis as to what you utilize, how you utilize things, when you use them.  When you get this much engineering involved in things, you better be prepared to change what you do because it changes rapidly and the way you look at things may not be the same way you look at things next week, whether it’s just a screen and how it’s laid out or how you’re utilizing it and what you use it for, but it is just a constant evolution of what you have and what you’re using and sometimes I feel like people lose sight of that and don’t really understand how engineering-based our sport is and engineering advanced.  I’d put this garage up against anybody in racing across the world when you talk about the technology that lives in this garage.”

 

HOW DOES THE WIND AFFECT THE RACING HERE?  “It depends on what direction it’s blowing, but you can get a pretty constant wind here.  Usually, if I remember correctly, it’s gonna blow from turns one and two to three and four or three and four to one and two.  If I remember correctly it blows straight across one straightaway or the other.  It doesn’t usually have a crosswind.  I’m sure it’ll have a crosswind when I walk out there, but, for the most part, it seems like it’s a headwind or a tailwind and usually what that does is it either pushes you into the corner and makes the car usually looser and if you go into the other end it’s gonna make it turn better because there is more air pushing against the side of the car.  If it does wind up being a crosswind, it’s gonna make the car not want to turn up off the corner or into the corner, so it definitely affects it.  Usually, it’ll blow one direction one day and then the next day it’ll blow the opposite direction, so you always have something to chase.  That’s just a lot of what you put into the notebook, so that you have some idea of what does what when the wind is blowing, but usually it is blowing.”

 

WHAT IS YOUR SALES PITCH FOR BEING NASCAR’S MOST POPULAR DRIVER THIS YEAR?  “We’re fortunate to have a great fan base, but we probably won’t win.  I’d say the next guy that’s gonna take that reign is gonna be Chase Elliott.  The bottom line is when you look at our sport there is only a few guys that come through this sport that have the name, the history, the heritage of that NASCAR family and carry that through their career and Chase is one of those guys and he’s done a great job of carrying himself and being competitive and doing all the things that he does, but he is the NASCAR tie to the beginning of the sport or however far back you want to look at it, but he has that family name and that history and the heritage of the hardcore NASCAR fan who are going to be the people who vote that.  His dad won a few times in the Most Popular Driver and he’s the next Dale Jr.  Is he gonna win enough to be the megastar?  At some point.  He’s a star right now, but winning takes you to that next level of being a bigger star and Chase Elliott winning is better for our sport and he’s gonna be the guy that wins the Most Popular Driver, in my opinion, for the next several years.  There’s nobody else that has that tie to our sport like Chase does.  I can win 20 races a year and I’m never gonna have that tie to the sport like Chase does.”

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