Ford Performance NASCAR: Michigan 1 (Kevin Harvick Media Availability)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, June 7, 2019
EVENT: FireKeepers Casino 400 Media Availability
Kevin Harvick Media Availability

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang — YOU TALKED ABOUT YOU GUYS HAVE TO RELOOK AT HOW LONG YOU USE PARTS AND PIECES WITH THIS PACKAGE. HOW INVOLVED DO YOU GET? DO YOU ASK ZIPPY OR DO YOU ASSUME IT JUST GETS FIXED? “I didn’t assume, I asked. As you look at our place right now you are kind of reevaluating everything. As we started the season and took a wrong direction and had been back peddling to get everything right, the speed of the cars has come back and still working on all the details. It is similar to the way we started 2017 but they have done a great job of turning the ship around and getting the speed back in the cars. I think the steering box issue is a new conversation that you have to look at all the suspension pieces and parts and everything that goes with it. Every week we are 12-18 miles per hour faster through the center of the corner. Ther is a ton more load on suspension pieces, spindles, wheels, steering boxes, front clips and everything that has to do with the car is under a lot more load. You have to step back and to me the learning situation that came out of breaking the steering box is asking the questions about everything else. Obviously that was a topic of conversation. I don’t get too in depth involved in the conclusions to those questions but you have to ask questions. I think they have done a good job in trying to wrangle up everything that we feel like could be a problem going forward. There are just a lot of things that get exposed that are different than what we have done before. We have been working on a number of things that have been exposed and that is just the latest one.”

KESELOWSKI SPOKE OF THE IMPORTANCE TO BRINGING THE MUSTANG TO VICTORY LANE HERE. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE TO YOU TO BRING THE MUSTANG TO VICTORY LANE HERE? “I think as you look at this particular race track obviously Ford is not far from here and there is a great significance from the Ford Motor Company and the executives at Ford to win. Obviously the Mustang is very important to all of us, especially to Ford Motor Company. As you look at getting to victory lane at Michigan it is the same urgency as it was last year and we did well at that. That is really the same scenario that pops up this year, it just happens to be a mustang with a historic brand and a lot more brand identification than what we have run here in the past. It is still Michigan. It is still in Ford’s back yard. They have won almost half the races here. You look since 1969 and you see the results and see the emphasis they put on Michigan Speedway.”

DOES YOUR STRATEGY CHANGE NEXT WEEK WITH THE CAROUSEL BEING ADDED TO SONOMA? “I was in the simulator this week and got lost a couple times. Forgot where to turn. It is a lot different than I remember it from 1995. I told some of the guys in our organization that they last time i was there and ran this particular course, the course we have been running wasn’t even there. There was a mountain in the middle of the race track. A lot has changed. Running that portion of the race track, the lap time is longer and there are some different corners to deal with and from 3B all the way through 4, through the carousel and the exit of it and what is a different turn 7 than the one we have been racing which was actually turn 5. It depends how you count the corners. I love the fact, and honestly this was a conversation that Marcus Smith and I had at lunch one day and I asked why we don’t just run the carousel and how cool it would be to throw it back. An hour later he told me he talked to his guys and they were looking into it. Next thing you know we are running the carousel. I love the fact they are changing it up. I think Watkins Glen could do the same thing. It seems like SMI is more aggressive in these types of situations with changing things up and trying new things and doing things more on the edge of not knowing what the outcome is going to be. As we have seen with the Roval and with the changes at Sonoma and to my knowledge I have never seen an ISC track put anything on their race tracks and SMI has done it to several of their race tracks to try to improve the racing. I don’t think they are as worried about the life of their asphalt as they are the quality of the race. We have just seen them make a lot more aggressive changes in the things they have done on the SMI side.”

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HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET IN THE SIMULATOR? “I don’t do it much. I choose to do it for all the road courses. I feel like I am a visual racer, a visual person that likes to be able to know where I am going, where I have been and with the practices being so short and a new course I think it was very important to get in the simulator and have some sort of idea of where to turn in that new section of the race track. I wanted to have that visual memory of where I was going before I got there because the practices are so short.”

WHAT WAS THE RACE IN 1995 WHEN YOU RAN THE CAROUSEL? “That would have been a Southwest Tour race.”

HAVE YOU GOTTEN TO A POINT OF FRUSTRATION YET IN TERMS OF THE GREMLINS AND BUGS THAT HAVE BITTEN YOU GUYS THIS YEAR? “I am beyond all the frustration. To me it is now a challenge just because I feel like this is very similar to 2014 and 2017. I can see the progression in the speed of the cars and the things we have done and honestly we just chose the wrong direction to start the year. Our cars weren’t where they needed to be and everyone realizes that as a company. We had some situations where we were in position to win some races and had some things go wrong, whether it was my team of the 14. In the end our cars just weren’t fast enough. I think everybody has kept their head down and are looking at it as a challenge now. Aside from the second half of the Charlotte race I think over the last month or so the cars are coming the right direction. Aric had a great test at Indianapolis and that is really the benefit of having quality teammates and people that communicate and an organization like we have with Gene and Tony letting the racers go race. Sometimes that over rules the engineering. Not saying that our engineering guys did anything wrong but it was just the direction just wasn’t right to be able to do the things that we are doing on the race track in the cars in real life scenarios that are being covered with what we are doing on the track is what really tells the tale. We are all pulling the rope

in the right direction now and feel like we have made some good gains. This is part of that challenge that is a cycle. I have talked about this for years. You have to build, you have to rebuild, build and rebuild. You are on the good side of it and the bad side of it and it all has a funny way of cycling itself through. We have had a number of challenges since I have been here with Tony in and out of the car and drivers changing. It is a resilient group of people that continue to set aside the frustrations and look forward. We were all frustrated Sunday because we were in a position to win the race. It is hard to put your thumb on everything and know when steering boxes are going to break. I know we had a pit road penalty but they had a phenomenal day on pit road. There were just a number of things that piled onto one stop there. At this point, in these types of situations for me, they are almost more fun than winning all the time because you get to talk about things and live that frustration and go through those scenarios and in the end sometimes it makes you stronger at the end of those seasons to be where you need to be as we saw with the 22 last year. They were nowhere in sight at the beginning of the year and they finished as the champs. Winning is easy because it means everything is right. You get to get gritty when it is not 100-percent going your way.”

IF YOU WEREN’T RACING AND HAD A NORMAL 9-TO-5 JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU DO ON MOST OF YOUR OFF WEEKENDS DO YOU THINK? “I don’t plan to have a normal job any time soon, or ever actually. For me, life changed when Keelan went to school. We go on vacation when everybody else is on vacation that has kids now. You have to pre-plan a lot to go to the places that you want. For us, we will hang out in the mountains for awhile and go fishing and play golf and have a good time. I don’t really know what normal is. We just plan stuff around our kids and activities. I get to act like I am seven and be an adult.”

WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF WHAT YOU EXPECT THIS WEEKEND? “I think as we race, I intentionally raced the Xfinity race last year and it didn’t go anything like I thought it was going to go. There was a lot of pushing and shoving to stay in one lane that has been Michigan Speedway over the last several years. You got on the bottom and you get freight-trained on the outside. After the expectations of where the restarts were going into Pocono last week and quickly realizing that if you were on the bottom you were going to get freight-trained on the straightaway. YOu had to rethink your strategy of what you did in the first corner and I think that is why you saw it be so tame. I really thought the cars would draft up much better than they did last week. You didn’t see that humongous draft or very much draft up to a single car down an extremely long straightaway. That is the only thing that has me a little gun shy as to what will happen here. I wish we would have done something a little bitter with the bottom lane, maybe some traction compound in the third lane to really get that third lane burned in here. You can drag all the tires you want and it isn’t going to work. Try to get that third lane burned in. I have a question of what happens with the bottom lane based on what we did last year in the Xfinity race. Those are my concerns. How it turns out, I would be guessing because there have been a few places we have gone that turned out different than I thought it was going to be.”

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE FATHERS DAY MEMORIES? “Father’s Day is a lot more fun being a dad. Keelan has asked me a couple times over the last few weeks what I would want for Father’s Day. It is always something like a new Ford GT or something that is like millions. Like a new yacht or something that he can go back to his mom, because I know where the question is coming from because on Mother’s Day it is pretty funny. It will be like, ‘Hey Keelan, what do you think we should get your mom?’ and the answer comes back as some expensive piece of jewelry or expensive purse or something but in the end we don’t really buy gifts for anything. I just constantly preach the multi-million dollar things to see the reaction he will get from his mom. In the end, we will just be on vacation and it will just be something along those lines.”

YOU HAVE GONE FROM BEING A YOUNG, REBELLIOUS DRIVER TO BEING A SPOKESPERSON OF THE DRIVERS. WHAT HAS THAT EVOLUTION BEEN LIKE? “It is just kind of the evolution of life that follows with it. At this particular point there is obviously some people that don’t like to hear what I have to say, which is fine. There are some people that you feel like you are on their side and it is not really about sides, it is about an opinion and you can take it for what it is worth. At this point it doesn’t matter to me what you think about it, it is my opinion and I will move on from it. I will happily listen to yours as well and it will be a great debate and we will have fun with it. I think the progression of life in general has followed the progression of my career. Having kids was great because you had some more responsibility that you had to come home to than you did before. Things that you say, especially the older Keelan gets, are more magnified. It is like 20-questions when you get home.”

“I was pulling out of the Chipotle the other day after lunch and I go bolting across the street and I get a, ‘What the hell are you doing dad?’ and I was like, ‘what?’ I kind of ignored for a minute and then I said, ‘Where did you hear that?’ It was the day we all sat in a TV booth together. I can’t necessarily blame it on Clint but it sounded a lot like something he would say. It was funny but a moment that you had to explain why we couldn’t use that word.”

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