Ford Performance NASCAR: Kevin Harvick Charlotte Media Availability

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Ford Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Coca-Cola 600 Advance (Charlotte Motor Speedway; Concord, NC)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobli 1/Busch Ford Fusion, has won each of the last two points races and is coming off a victory in the All-Star Race.  He stopped by the infield media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway to discuss his season and hopes for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.


KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Mobil 1/Busch Ford Fusion – HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THIS WEEK?  “For me, it’s probably a little different this week because I’ve been not feeling well and just need to make sure I’m physically ready for Sunday.  I believe the car will be where it needs to be, it’s just a matter of seeing what happens today and seeing where you pit and getting all the details right.  The guys are doing a good job right now, so we can have that luxury of not worrying about big things and just fine-tuning the cars.  It’s a long race that turns into a long week, obviously you add another day being at the track on Thursday, but you’re close to home and obviously with everything going on downtown tomorrow it’ll be a fun weekend.”


IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN TAKE FROM LAST WEEK TO THIS WEEK?  “I don’t believe so.  I don’t think there was really anything similar about the way that the cars were built.  The engine – nothing.  A lot of that credit really just goes to the team and the organization for the preparation that they put in to deciding on what they wanted to bring to the race track, but not a spring, shock, car, body, engine, transmission, rear gear – nothing is even close to relating.  There’s nothing that you can take from last week to this week other than just momentum and just the positive things that happened.  Really, I guess the biggest thing that you take is confidence just because the guys are clicking on all cylinders from an engineering standpoint, from an aero standpoint – just pure knowledge of the things that they’re doing and being able to adapt to something totally different really shows the momentum and the confidence that they have in what they’re doing because there really wasn’t a lot of time to tune on things last weekend, so they’re doing a great job of just preparation and thinking things out while all the cars are in the shop.  That’s really the biggest difference of when you’re on and everything is hitting on all cylinders is being able to detail things out when you get to the track and having most of the work done at the shop.”


HOW MUCH INPUT DOES A DRIVER HAVE WITH THE SETUP?  IS IT JUST A CASE OF THE ENGINEERS SAYING, ‘THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED.  GO DRIVE IT?’  “That’s not really how it works.  I think as you look at the process you have to be part of the process, you have to be part of the equation and part of that equation is being able to take the time to sit in the meetings and have the conversations with your crew chief and the engineers and make sure that what is said, what is felt, the things that you need in the race car are actually the direction that they’re going because so many times you see so many guys that have don’t have a conversation go off of what they said in the race and you don’t really go recap everything as you go through the week as to what happened last weekend and have a firm understanding of where everybody’s mind is going going forward.  The driver is a huge part of the equation.  You can get in and just drive and you’re gonna have just get in it and drive results.  The good drivers are part of the equation and it takes a lot of time and effort to be engaged and a lot of confidence in your crew chief, engineer and organization to be able to listen to those opinions, but somebody has to drive a direction.  They can make more downforce with the car and things like that, but that’s another piece of the equation and we’re a big piece of the equation if that’s the type of team and situation that you’re in.  We’re fortunate that we live in that environment at Stewart-Haas Racing, where the owners believe in the crew chiefs and the crew chiefs believe in the engineers and everybody believes that they’re a part of the process, so it takes a lot.  If you don’t have one piece of that equation, you’re not gonna be as good as the guys that do.”


WHAT’S WRONG?  “I’ve just got a cold.  We’ve been passing it around at home.”


DO YOU HAVE TO PACE YOURSELF OR BABY THE CAR MORE WITH THAT EXTRA 100 MILES ON SUNDAY?  “No.  That’s a false perception of today’s 600-mile race.  It’s 400 laps as fast as the car will go.  If you don’t do it that way, you’re gonna wind up a lap down, you’re gonna make a mistake throughout the day that you’re gonna need a cushion to not wind up a lap down because it’s just such a long race.  You’re gonna have something that you have to battle through at some particular point, whether it’s a decision of using a set of tires or missing pit road or having a bad pit stop – whatever the scenario is – if you aren’t going hard every lap or you have something in your mindset that you’re not gonna go hard every lap, somebody is gonna lap you and you won’t win this race.”




WHAT ABOUT POCONO NEXT WEEK?  “I hadn’t really thought about Pocono much.  We’re really one week at a time people, so I think as we go to Pocono we obviously want to win there, especially since its one of the two tracks we haven’t won at.  I know that Rodney and the organization itself has put a lot of effort into that particular weekend trying to get to Victory Lane and take that race off the list.  It’s a place I enjoy going – not so much the place I enjoyed going in my previous life before I came to Stewart-Haas Racing.  It was never a track we ran very good at, but come to find out that if you have the cars where they need to be and the people around you, things are much different.  So Pocono is a place that I’ve learned to enjoy more than I did in my previous life at RCR.”


WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT SPORTS BETTING RECENTLY?  IT’S BEEN A TOPIC ON YOUR RADIO SHOW.  “We had Darren Rovell on Tuesday night and the thing that I learned is that it’s extremely complicated and unless you’re involved with it on a weekly basis, its kind of hard to keep up with.  Right now, I have more questions than answers just because of the fact that we have a couple race tracks that have casinos on the property already.  It sounds like Delaware, based on what Darren told us, Delaware will have an advantage of getting things going, so is the lobbying going to happen from a state-to-state as far as a sport?  Is it going to be Dover lobbying for their state, their rules, their regulations of how things are going to go?  Is Kansas going to be on its own?  Is it going to be a NASCAR initiative of trying to say these are the guidelines that we’d like to see?  Are we as a sport lobbying alongside the NBA, and the NFL?  Are we in that game?  So I think there are a lot of questions and the thing that Darren talked about is that it’s extremely complicated.  The other thing as far as random thoughts from just listening is it seems like there’s a very good opportunity to get creative with a place like Dover that has that casino sitting there to have some creative betting during the race to really intrigue the fans – things that you could do from your phone or in the casino or just random stuff.  Could you turn that track and race into an atmosphere like a horse race?  I think there’s just a lot of questions and a lot of answers that need to be individually solved.  That’s the interesting part is it’s going to come state by state, so who is going to lead that charge?  Is it race tracks or is it NASCAR?”


“My main concern are the teams.  If there is another revenue stream, I’d like to see the revenue streams get shared fairly with the teams, unlike the TV package that is not fairly shared with the teams in the way that it is split up.  Those revenue streams need to be fairly shared so that everybody benefits from everything, so that we can get these teams to the value of each charter and what it needs to be so that a Mark Cuban, or somebody of that nature, would say, ‘I need to be involved in NASCAR.  I need to own one of those teams,’ and there’s some value there that isn’t solely based on sponsorship.”


DO YOU FEEL THIS RACE IS ANY LESS GRUELING THAN IT USED TO BE?  “From 2001, and that’s really how I can relate to it, there was that pace yourself, try to keep yourself on the lead lap, take care of your car, we’re gonna back the engine off 25 horsepower so that we can make sure that everything makes it to the end of the race.  We’re gonna put extra cooling on the car.  None of that happens now.  You’ll have less laps on the engine.  You’ll have things that they change from an axle standpoint or a seal standpoint that may be different from a 400 or 500-mile race just as a precaution, so it’s physically demanding, it’s still hard on the cars, but there’s a much more precise calculation of parts and pieces and how far they’ll go and the things that they’ll do in the engines and things like that.  It’s no different than you sitting there looking at your computer.  It’s different, but you’re still trying to accomplish the same thing.  It’s much more efficient with the technology you have sitting in front of you, instead of trying to write it down and remember and figure out what you wrote when you got done.  This is a very technologically-advanced sport.  Sometimes it doesn’t get the credit for the engineers and people that are in this sport and how technically-advanced it is, so it’s definitely come a long ways in just the time that I’ve been here.  I can’t imagine driving 600 miles at this race track in some of the conditions and cars and things that they did in those days.  It’s definitely different, but it’s the same.”


DO ENVISION HAVING TO STAY IN YOUR TEAM’S EAR ABOUT BEING MOTIVATED ALL YEAR?  “I don’t anticipate having anybody do that.  It’s very self-motivating at this particular point because of the achievements that have been achieved so far and the opportunity to achieve things that are really once-in-a-career type situations and they all know that.  I heard Greg Zipadelli sit up here the other night and he knows that.  You can feel that within the organization that what you could achieve by the time you roll through Homestead at the end of the year.  It’s something you might not ever get to do again, so I don’t believe that those conversations will have to happen.  Our goal is to Playoff race every week and I think as we’re doing that right now as an organization that’s still the goal going forward.”


HOW MUCH ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF THIS YEAR WITH EVERYTHING GOING ON AT WORK AND HOME?  “It’s very strange because of the fact that I think when you look at everything that’s going on every week feels like a normal week.  I understand that things are going exceptionally well here at the race track and every race track that we’ve been to so far, but there’s that way of getting grounded when you’re at home because, honestly, my kids could care less about what happens here.  My son is more excited that I show up to his baseball game and stand on first base and tell him whether to run to second or not, and those type of things.  He’s more concerned about me dropping him off in the car pool line.  Those things just have a way of keeping you grounded, keeping your mind off of what’s going on here and really makes this secondary to life in general.  To me, that’s a good thing because I don’t have time to really stop and think about it.  It’s very similar to the thought I will tell you that happened in 2001, coming in and driving Dale’s car.  We raced so much.  It’s different, but it’s kind of the same because it kind of guards you from being able to really pay attention to all the things that are happening and going on and the actual attention and things that are being given to the situation.  I kind of just hide in my hole during the week.  I went to five meetings this week and participated in a lot of conversations about this sport.  I participated in a lot of conversations about the team and did interviews, but all of that happens in between when Keelan goes to school.  It’s all scheduled around his baseball games.  Those are all things that are first priorities, so that, to me, helps keep this in its position of number two.  It helps keep me from realizing everything that’s actually happening.”


HOW IS YOUR MINDSET DIFFERENT IN THE 600 VERSUS THE ALL-STAR RACE?  “I would tell you that our mindset is the same as far as what you want to accomplish right now and that’s win.  You don’t want to not win.  We feel like we should have a chance at winning the race this weekend.  If we don’t, we did something wrong.  That’s the mindset that you had going into the All-Star Race.  I think as you look at this particular week it’s a little bit different because you have stages that actually pay some points, but you still want to win the stage, you’d still rather have a Playoff point than nine regular-season points, so I think the mindset is the same in the fact that you want to win the race.  That starts today.  This is a place where qualifying on the pole is a huge advantage and we’ll put all of our effort and everything we have today into trying to qualify first.  It’s just one of those situations where you feel like you have your foot on their throat and you just want to stand on them harder.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.