Ford Performance NASCAR: Phoenix (Kevin Harvick Media Availability)

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Ford Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Ticket Guardian 500 Media Availability (ISM Raceway; Phoenix, AZ)

Friday, March 9, 2018


Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion, comes to Phoenix after back-to-back Cup Series wins at Atlanta and Las Vegas. Harvick, who has a track record eight wins to his credit at Phoenix, met with media members prior to the first Cup Series practice to discuss the penalty issued to the team following Las Vegas.

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion — WHY DON’T YOU START BY TALKING ABOUT WHAT IT IS LIKE COMING BACK TO A TRACK WHERE YOU HAVE HAD SO MUCH SUCCESS: “Nobody wants to talk about that. Let’s just go to the first question. They all have the stats.”


DO YOU FEEL THE SEVEN PLAYOFF POINTS PENALTY FOR WHAT NASCAR SAID YOUR TEAM VIOLATED IS FAIR? “No. As you look at the penalty itself it is very confusing. I think as you look at all the chatter that was created on social media afterwards — the whole findings of the whole thing started with the roof braces not working in the car which are non-mandatory braces that exist in the back of the roof. That is what squished it down. The window bracing itself, there were no issues with. When you look at the perpendicular bar, there is no specific way it says it has to be connected. Ours is connected. As you look at the bracing itself, there was no issue with that. The roof caved in, pulled the back and top of the window down, and that is really the root of the social media outrage that came after the race. The car passed all the optical scanning station inspections and everything after the race. The car was built to tolerance. The scary part for me is the fact that we went far enough to find something on the car at the NASCAR R&D center. They could find something wrong with every car if they took it apart for a whole day at the R&D center. The side skirt material is on us. That rule was put into place February 18th and it should have been aluminum but ours was steel. That is really kind of the meat of what gave them the ability to actually get the fine to where it was meaningful enough to appease everyone on social media. When you look at that, instead of explaining it correctly with the roof bracing that failed and explaining that there was probably 20-some cars in the field that you could call that same penalty on for the bracing and windshield attachment. If you really want to go through pictures. That is a slippery slope. We saw a lot of pictures pop up from previous years and previous events and same events this year of window bracing failures, which we didn’t have. Widows not attached to the bracing. It is what it is. I can tell you how we have dissected it from a team standpoint. We go from here. I have seen this – you look at golf and the fan officiating and the chaos that it caused. I think you see some of the repercussions of finding a penalty that was big enough to make the car sufficient to have a fine big enough to appease everybody. That didn’t work in golf. It won’t work here. I think as you look at it, you have to take it and move on and you just deal with it and go forward.”


DID IT AFFECT YOUR PERFORMANCE? WOULD YOU HAVE WON DESPITE THOSE ISSUES? “Absolutely. Hands down. If you look at Atlanta, the car was there the week before. Same team, same window bracing, same roof, same side skirts, same everything. It was in the R&D center the week before. It has been there 49 times in three years. Technicalities. If you have to find a technicality that is that deep, that is the thing that is frustrating from a team standpoint and especially the explanation when you look at the window bracing and the way the window is attached to the car. You could call that penalty on any car in the field at some point. I have had window braces smashed in the front of my car, several times. They fail all the time in the front. If we want to officiate it with fan pictures – if you want to officiate it with pictures during the race and call people to pit road and do those types of things, from a NASCAR standpoint I am fine with that. As long as it is consistent. As you can see, from a lot of the pictures roaming around on the internet this week, it is not consistent.”


HOW WILL THIS IMPACT YOU? “It just motivates us. I can’t wait to win another race and jump up and down in victory lane on the back of my car.”

WITH YOUR CAR CHIEF BEING GONE, YOU ARE A GUY THAT DIGS IN WHEN YOU FEEL YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO PROVE: “The officials in the garage do a great job. It just feels like it is a micromanaged situation from above what these guys do in the garage, to appease people sitting on social media and trying to officiate a sporting event instead of letting these guys in the garage do what they do and do a great job with it week in and week out. That is the frustrating part. When my crew chief left the R&D center, they felt there was nothing that they found or issues with the car and then you see the penalty pop up Wednesday night.”


DO YOU FEEL WITHOUT THE PRESSURE OF THE FANS ON SOCIAL MEDIA THAT YOU STILL WOULD HAVE GOTTEN THIS PENALTY? “I don’t think so. That is a slippery slope. You see the repercussions of all the pictures and things that pop up from previous races that immediately show that is not something that has ever been taken before. Sometimes you just feel like you have maybe been proven a point. I think that is more the case than anything here. Like I said, I compare it to golf. It failed miserably when you look at Lexi Thompson and the outrage of the players and things that have happened the last couple years. The root of the problem is that my friends that don’t follow racing are very confused on a penalty that comes out on Wednesday. I listened to Sirius XM this week and Darrell Waltrip’s explanation of how all this should go is dead on. That is the part we need to fix. If we have a fine, I am fine with that. I am going to go race the car, we will put the cars together and we will get over it and move on and the cars will run great and we will do all the things we want to do. As a sport, that is something that we have all been talking about. That was definitely something that the optical scanning station was definitely supposed to help alleviate. That is what we have been told. When there are things wrong, things fail, things happen, they still have to officiate the sport but when it comes out on Tuesday, to the casual fan it is very confusing.”


IT SEEMS LIKE A PRETTY BIG WINDOW FOR AN APPEAL. YOU GUYS DON’T PLAN TO APPEAL? “That is just way above my paygrade within the team. I just try to take in what I can get from the team with where we stand on how we feel about the penalty and then we move on. That is really the reason that I am here today, to just address it all and move forward. From here on out, the team and NASCAR can handle all that.”


DO YOU THINK THE RULE BOOK NEEDS TO BE MORE CLEAR? “I would say if it is going to be officiated properly and correctly in its current state, when you look at all the different pictures — look, we live off pictures and we see everybody’s stuff and that stuff evolves into everybody doing the same stuff in certain areas. You could have called the window attached to the brace penalty on 20 cars last week, easy.”


IN PRINCIPLE, IT COULD HAPPEN AGAIN? “Yeah, if the front window brace fails. I think the 34 car had one that failed pretty good last week that was caved in. Those are things that happen. There is a lot of pressure and force and things that are happening. Everything is build to what you think will hold up and sometimes it doesn’t”


WAS THERE A COMPETITION ADVANTAGE? “When you see things cave in that far, especially when they have dips and ramps, that is not what you want. You want that thing to be smooth and attached to the roof and rear glass so that it attaches down to the window and onto the spoiler.


HOW DO YOU STOP THE INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN A CASE LIKE THAT THOUGH? “Keep your executives off of it during the race.”


THEY WILL STILL TAKE THE WINNING CAR BACK THE R&D CENTER THOUGH: “Absolutely. The best thing I heard this week was Darrell Waltrip’s explanation on Sirius XM. I would advise you guys to go listen to that. It was a great thought and explanation of his thoughts.”


FANS HAVE SAID THEY WOULD RATHER SEE THE INSPECTION DONE AT THE TRACK AND R&D CENTER REMAIN FOR R&D THINGS. DO YOU THINK WAITING TOO LONG FOR THESE INSPECTIONS TO COME OUT IS CONFUSING AND TAKING AWAY FROM RACING? “Absolutely. Now we are sitting here talking about whether we think it was legit or whether NASCAR thinks it was a penalty. We are explaining it from our side. They explain it from their side and now you have a conversation that has nothing to do with racing. As you look forward, that would be the best way to do it. As competitors, and I know this conversation has come up several times in the driver council meetings with the council and NASCAR to try to figure out a way that we don’t have these types of issues going forward where you don’t have penalties in the middle of the week. That was one of the scenarios that the optical scanning station was supposed to help.”


HOW DO WE GET THE MOMENTUM BACK FROM DAYTONA, ATLANTA AND EVEN GOING INTO LAS VEGAS? “I don’t know. As you look at everything that is going on, it is a conversation that we don’t want to have as a team. As a sport you don’t want to be talking about penalties. We are right back to where we were with the LIS machine and all the conversations we had about that. The conversations that went away are now right back into play. We have an encumbered win.”


CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE STRENGTH OF THE TEAM GOING IN TO THIS WEEKEND AND HAVING THE YEAR WITH FORD BEHIND YOU TO GET USED TO THAT AND ACCLIMATE IT? “It says a lot about our team. A lot of us didn’t know where we were going to stand as far as performance. As a whole, Stewart-Haas Racing, we were within a half a lap of winning every race so far. You can’t knock anything that we have done and everybody has done a great job. We have a lot of momentum and these things tend to make you closer, stronger and better. Like I say, when you look at a situation like the side skirt, that was definitely on us from a material standpoint and we go from there. We try to fix those internal things that happen. We can’t control the inspection process or what their thoughts and things are on that but like I say, the officials have been doing a great job in the garage. You look at the scans and the way we have rolled right through and all the things we have had happen that have gone well, those are the things we will continue to keep doing. It is tough when you feel like that part of the garage from the guys that know about the race cars in there everyday are getting micromanaged by people that don’t know much about race cars.”


INAUDIBLE: “Nick was car chief at the 47. We have a car chief that has done that before. That is the other confusing part about the penalty. If it is such a big deal, why is my crew chief still here? I don’t understand that.”


IS IT A BIG HIT TO NOT HAVE YOUR CAR CHIEF? “You have so many guys that do the same thing every week and Nick has been the car chief and is the guy that sets all the cars up in the shop. Rodney is a key player in that but the confusing part about it is you have this huge penalty but your crew chief doesn’t get suspended. A lot of confusion in my mind.”


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.