NASCAR: Kevin Harvick Media Availability Transcript

Ford PR

Ford Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Auto Club 400 Media Availability (Auto Club Speedway; Fontana, CA)

Friday, March 16, 2018


Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Ford Fusion, looks to run his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winning streak to four this weekend after victories in Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix.  Harvick, who could become the first Ford driver since Mark Martin in 1993 to win four straight, spoke to the media this morning before practice.


KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Ford Fusion – GOING FOR FOUR IN A ROW.  HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING INTO SUNDAY?  “I feel good.  I think as you look at the schedule for us, I think this is one that we’ve all had circled since I’ve been at SHR as a track that we hadn’t won at, that we felt like we’ve run well enough to won at, and for me personally it’s obviously close to home and I crashed coming to the green flag last year, so there’s got to be a little bit of redemption somewhere along the line to pick yourself back up and recover from that, so I’m looking forward to the weekend and hopefully we can keep doing what we’ve been doing.”


DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS AFTER RETIRING OF GOING BACK INTO OWNERSHIP IF IT’S SOMETHING KEELAN WOULD WANT TO PURSUE?  “That’s a good question.  I don’t really have plans that are set in stone.  I learned a long time ago to not say what you think you’re gonna do that far in advance.  For me, I enjoy being part of the team and the situation I’m currently in because they let you be part of the conversation.  It would be fun to be more of a part of that conversation as you go forward when you’re not in the car.  As far as owning something and doing it on our own again, I can tell you that that won’t happen.  The financial commitment is just so big and I think as you look at the time commitment and things that go with it are large, but being a part of helping run the team would be something that would be interesting if you could do some sort of consulting.  As far as Keelan goes, he hasn’t really asked to race and I’m not going to ask him just because he’s exploring a lot of things right now with different sports and starting school and I want him to be a kid.  I don’t want to have to pull him out of school all the time to go race and do all those things that it takes to do it right.  It’s a big commitment, so when you make those types of commitments everybody is gonna have to buy in, so we would have to drag mom into that conversation to see how that went.”


WILL IT BE EASIER FOR YOU TO GET POLES NOW THAT BUSCH IS SPONSORING THAT AWARD?  “I don’t know that it will make it any easier, but I think as you look at the commitment and I think everybody internally would tell you when it went from Budweiser to the conversation about Budweiser wanting to change directions there was a time in that conversation where everybody didn’t really know where the program was going to go.  Busch was brought up in the conversation just because of their ties and their roots in the sport and they came on board.  Everybody didn’t really know how that was going to be received with this sport and the fans and the brand and when you see the increase in sales and you see the activation and you see everything that’s happened, it was a really, really good move from not only where I sit, but from the brand standpoint.  When you see Busch taking another step to come back with the pole award and really that’s going to enhance our program with the activation and things that they’re adding to what we already do. The commitment that they’ve made and the activation that they’ve done that is working for everybody is really fun to be a part of and we’re really fortunate to be a part of it just because of the fact that you have a sponsor that is so committed to this sport.”


IT WILL BE MORE FUN TO CELEBRATE THE POLE NOW.  “Yeah.  That will be a lot easier.  It was obviously very controversial as far as when you won the pole before and it was with the wrong brand, so we wouldn’t go to the celebration.  We would just celebrate on our own, so that will definitely be better to be a part of the celebration now for sure.”


HOW WAS YOUR RACE LAST NIGHT AND DID ANYONE IMPRESS YOU AS SOMEONE WHO MIGHT HAVE PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE?  “I always get nervous when we do stuff like that because you always feel like everybody has kind of stepped out of the box to do something different.  Thursday night is a big commitment for the teams with so many volunteers and the fans to come out on Thursday night with their kids and families, so you’re always nervous about whether it will work or not, but there were 5,000-6,000 people that showed up to the race last night and the event went great.  It’s a great facility and great exposure for the K&N Series and the track and to be able to do that in my hometown was pretty neat to finally go there.  But just to see all of the support and see a lot of people who hadn’t been to a race since Mesa Marin closed in 2005, so I think you see the week and you see the conversations that have been started about grassroots racing, and you see the support to go along with everything that was talked about and said last weekend is very eye-opening just for the fact that there are a lot of people that love to race, they just need a little more here and there as far as support goes.  To be able to put those kids, most of them are kids – 15 or 16 years old, I’m old enough to be their dad – is pretty fun for me to see and watch.  Honestly, as I look back on the event and take away if I had to pick one person to say, ‘All right, that’s the person that KHI would want to represent and think has the most potential,’ it would probably be Hailie Deegan.  Obviously, they have I would call it a unique racing heritage within their family with Brian and I got to race with her for a little bit there at the end of the race and she did a great job in the car.  I think as far as potential and reach and just racing knowledge and getting in a car as young as she is, that would be the one that I would pluck out of the series and say, ‘That’s the one we want to be a part of,’ because she has a lot of potential and already has some racing experience in multiple vehicles, so that was fun to see.”


HOW HAS THE MENTAL ASPECT PLAYED INTO YOUR SUCCESS THESE LAST THREE WEEKS?  “I think everybody is extremely confident.  I think that confidence just builds and every moment you just become more and more confident in the things that you can and can’t do.  I think as you look at our team in general it’s a unique situation and you guys have heard me talk about this a lot just because of the fact that we all have so much confidence in each other and then you add everything that happened with the penalty in the middle of all that and it just really added fuel to the fire.  We’ve talked about this in the past, but how do you race every week like you do in Playoff mentality and that’s really what it’s felt like the first four weeks that we’ve been on the race track. That part, to me, is fun because I feel like that’s really what Jimmie and Chad did for so many years was they raced with a Playoff mentality every week and were able to accomplish that in the shop, and if you can accomplish that in the shop that’s unique just because it’s so mentally draining and takes so much work to stay up with everything as you look at all the details and things that come with that.  It can be mentally draining, so if you can get your team to that point of being able to Playoff race in that Playoff race mindset every week, that’s something that most teams can’t do.”


WHAT STEPS DO YOU TAKE TO GET INTO THAT MODE?  “I think when you see everything that we did last year switching to Ford and all the work that went into it, it took a lot of effort to get the cars back to be competitive to the point where we wanted to be of winning races and leading laps and racing for the lead and doing all those things to win races.  Everybody carried that same workload over, but all the work it took to switch manufacturers was already done, so it’s like you already put everything in position and I think going to Ford allowed us to add a lot of positions and a lot of people to raise the bar of the expectations of what the mindset should be in the shop as far as how you approach things and how many details can you cover in the amount of time that you need to prepare the car.  That amount of time is more because of the fact that you have more people, so you can cover more details and I think bringing all that stuff in-house for us and having the extra support from Ford is one reason that level of detail has been able to be raised.”


EIGHT DRIVERS IN THE MODERN ERA HAVE WON FOUR IN A ROW.  WOULD WINNING FOUR IN A ROW MEAN ANYTHING AND JOINING THE LIKES OF GORDON AND JOHNSON?  “I’m just happy to win one let alone two in a row, three in a row.  And this most likely probably will be the only opportunity that you’ll ever have to do it because it’s hard to string together just putting a whole day together and the odds of putting three weeks together, but anytime you can put your name next to a group of guys on a list that you just mentioned is something that’s pretty special and just shows the magnitude of where our race team is at right now and how good it’s actually functioning.”


WERE YOU AWARE GOING IN THAT THERE WAS ONE SET OF TIRES AND HOW DID YOU WORK THAT KNOWING YOU HAD TO HAVE TIRES LEFT AT THE END?  “The K&N Series switched to radial tires, which is a great move because one thing that the owners are trying to wrap their arms around is how do I sell the kids’ dads and newcomers on ‘this is the place to be and it’s going to help you advance to the Truck Series, or advance to the XFINITY Series, or gain experience for the XFINITY Series,’ and switching to that radial tire, which is a tire that we ran at Martinsville, is a great move because bias-ply tires had actually crept up in price getting closer to a radial tires, but I did know that it was one set of tires.  It was that way at Sonoma and, really, a lot of the tire saving strategies and techniques that they had in the past weren’t really necessary with the radial because it just runs fast so much longer.  That’s not really any issue. We ran 100 laps on the ones in practice and they looked fine, so, really, the brake heat was the biggest issue that we had – just building air in our tires – but I think NASCAR and Goodyear have done a pretty good job of getting that situated so that you have something that is legitimately on the Cup cars, trucks, and XFINITY cars that you can’t get in ARCA and you can’t get in late models.  That’s the only place that you can get that experience that they can now get on the East and West Series.”


WERE YOU SURPRISED AT HOW MUCH DISCUSSION THERE WAS THIS WEEK ABOUT YOUR COMMENTS REGARDING GRASSROOTS RACING?  “I always feel like that’s one thing I’ve been pretty good at is just starting a conversation.  I normally don’t have the right ideas, but I can at least lead the conversation to get started and then you let it evolve from there.  I didn’t really expect the whole grassroots conversation to spin out of control like it did this week, but I spent a lot of time just walking from different teams in the garage this past weekend.  I got to see P.J. Jones.  His son was racing late models there and just hearing his opinion on whether he should take his son and put him in the K&N West Series or leave him in the late model series or pick his family up and move to the east coast was very interesting to me.  I just don’t know where we all went wrong to have the East and West Series not be the place to naturally go from late models.  I don’t know where that changed, but it has changed.  Everybody wants to go run ARCA and ARCA runs on more ISC race tracks than the K&N East or West does, so the kids that are coming up through the series want to be on those race tracks.  I think as you look at what we’re doing that conversation shouldn’t ever be had.  It should never be a thought.  It should be, ‘OK, when my kid gets done with late models we’re gonna go run the East or the West Series where you live in the country because it’s on radial tires, you can go to some of the bigger race tracks, and now that they have the bigger cars and they have the composite bodies, we should be able to get these cars back on some of these type race tracks at California Speedway or Vegas or some of these bigger race tracks because the cars and the tires and the things that are there should be able to be safe on the bigger race tracks.  It’s an interesting dynamic right now.  Everybody feels like they need help and don’t have a lot of direction, but you guys have been a big part of helping keep that conversation going.  I saw South Boston had a very unique ticket package that if you had a Martinsville Speedway ticket you got into the race for free this weekend.  Stafford Speedway was messing around tweeting with me and Ryan Preece was one guy that reached out and said, ‘Hey, man, we really appreciate you starting the conversation.’  He’s in there digging every week in modified stuff trying to make a name for himself here and Stafford was like, ‘Hey, why don’t you be a part of our contingency program,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, you asked, so OK, we will.’  Little things here and there, it’s just gonna be a little bit of a sacrifice from everybody to help build it back into what it needs to be.  It’s not gonna happen overnight.  I had a great conversation with Mike Helton, who has his NASCAR Home Tracks jacket on this morning, by the way. I don’t know what that message is, but it’s fun because Mike and there are a lot of people at NASCAR who really have been putting a lot of time and effort in and I think you see the amount of work that has gone in with the schedules and changing to radial tires, talking to the car owners it sounds like the dirt race at Las Vegas is probably going to be the biggest car count that they’ve had in a long time because the owners and NASCAR worked out that you can run the old steel-bodied cars, so you can come over there and knock those old bodies off and run them in dirt.  They’re expecting somewhere around 50 cars to show up to that race, which is a really big deal.  Hopefully, that event goes over well and that’s what they need.  They need an event like last night.  They need an event like the dirt race.  They need to be back at Phoenix and racing where all the guys on the west coast want to race because that is their Daytona.  It’s interesting to see the amount of momentum and things that have been stirred up this week in a good way.”


About Greg Engle 7420 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.