CHEVY NSCS AT PHOENIX ONE — Kevin Harvick Scores Runner-Up Finish at PIR – Post race press conf.

[media-credit name=”” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Kevin Harvick Scores Runner-Up Finish at Phoenix on Fumes

AVONDALE, Ariz. (March 4, 2012) – Kevin Harvick led the most laps in his No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet in today’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. But, as he was making a charge to take back the top spot with less than two laps remaining in the 312-lap/312-mile/500K race, he began to slow on the backstretch coming to the white flag, out of fuel.

However, because he and the leader had built a big lead over third place, he was able to hold on to the runner-up spot in the final finishing order. Harvick now sits third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings after two races.

American Muscle

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, rallied back from a possible loose wheel problem about mid-race that dropped him deep in the running order to finish fourth in today’s race.  The strong run moved the five-time NSCS champion up 11 positions in the standings.

Jeff Gordon finished eighth in the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet to give Team Chevy three of the top-10 finishers.  The four-time NSCS champion gained 13 spots in the standings.

Three-time and defending NSCS champion Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, was poised for a strong finish until he had an issue re-starting the car in an effort to conserve fuel that relegated him to a 22nd-place finish.

Other Team Chevy finishers were: Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet – 11th; Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet – 14th; Kurt Busch, No. 51 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet – 15th; Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet – 20th; Ryan Newman, No. 39 WIX Filters Chevrolet – 21st; Dave Blaney, No. 36 Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Chevrolet – 23rd; Brendan Gaughan, No. 33 South Point Hotel and Casino Chevrolet – 27th; Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/Tarkett Chevrolet – 31st; Jeff Burton, No. 31 Wheaties Chevrolet – 33rd; Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet – 34th; David Reutimann, No, 10 Accell Construction Chevrolet – 36th and Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet – 37th.

Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was the race winner. Greg Biffle (Ford) and Brad Keselowski (Dodge) completed the top-five finishers.

The Series moves to Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 11, 2012.



KERRY THARP:  Let’s get started in our post-race.  We’ll roll right into the eighth annual Subway Fresh Fit 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event here at Phoenix International Raceway, Race 2 of the 2012 season. Our race runner up at today’s eighth annual Subway Fresh Fit 500 is Kevin Harvick, and he drove the No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.  Second place finish today and Kevin is third in points, eight out of the first place points leader.  Kevin, talk about    I know you said there on pit road that you were proud of your team for gutting it out here today even though you ran just a little bit shy of Sunoco there at the end.

KEVIN HARVICK:  Yeah, when you come out of caution they tell you you’re nine laps short, you really don’t think there’s any possibility to make it.  But a couple cautions and a little bit of saving and a little bit tighter crunch on the numbers, we wound up about a lap short.

But those are the types of things you’ve got to do to take the chances, and when you’re close enough to at least coast around, they did a good job.  So we came here and struggled at the last race here and ran 25th, 30th all day and came back and raced for a win today.  So they’ve done a good job over the winter, and hopefully that continues over the next few weeks in the preparation that they’ve done through the winter.

Q.  I guess a key question is if you had not run out of gas, do you think you would have been able to pass Denny there at the end?

KEVIN HARVICK:  I don’t think so.  Our cars were pretty evenly matched.  Really the whole second half of the race, he was a little bit better on the restarts and was able to kind of scoot by on the one restart there, I lost a couple spots, so that was our weak point of the day was the restarts.

We were able to match him, make up a little bit of ground, and just    I don’t know that there would have been enough time.

Q.  In trying to determine how much fuel you had left, how big of an issue was the new EFI system for your guys to try to calculate?

KEVIN HARVICK:  Well, with the EFI it didn’t really really, you have kind of a little bit more of a cushion because the EFI kind of kept us running there at the end.  Basically what it does is knocks the engine down to just a minimum RPM, it’s like a rev limiter and that’s basically caution car speed there and that’s as fast as it’ll go.  But it will keep running.

It got us back to the start finish line, and it ran out coming off of Turn 2 after the checkered.  You can really be pretty aggressive because you don’t have to worry about the things restarting.  It has an electric fuel pump if you have to come on pit road, so you can be a little bit more aggressive.

Q.  Kevin, were you aware of Tony Stewart’s problem re-firing his car, and have you had any issues with turning the engine off and refiring it when you’re trying to save fuel?

KEVIN HARVICK:  I feel like we’ve done a good job preparing for a lot of these situations, not to say that something is not going to go wrong.  We went through fuel mileage, on off switch. We have a procedure that looks like a video game that the guys from ECR have come up with, from saving fuel to how to turn the engine on and off, if the engine won’t re-fire, how to reset it.  So there’s procedures that go with    that guys at ECR have come up with on the McLaren system, and we’ve run across some of those problems but feel like we’ve fixed them, too.

Q.  I know there’s always an issue when you practice on a cold track and then you race on a hot track, but with the new construction of this track and in the race yesterday, the guys decided not to put tires on because they were having a hard time with cold tires on the track, and I was wondering, how is it different for you racing yesterday and then racing today with the tires and the difference in temperature?

KEVIN HARVICK:  Well, we didn’t end on four tires today; I can promise you that, after yesterday.  But our car was faster on two tires than it was on four tires.  Our weakness was still the restarts and getting grip, but we were better with restart grip on two tires than we were with four.  So the tracks    whether it was cool or hot, it stayed pretty consistent, and for two races now I think it’s put on pretty good shows.

Q.  You sounded so calm after the race was over on the radio.  Even though you finished second, it really seemed like a team building situation for you and Shane and the guys.  You sounded like you really seemed to be on a quest to find the championship you’ve been looking for.

KEVIN HARVICK:  Well, this is obviously a group of guys that has been together for a while, and in the end, I have to help be that team leader to be able to keep the guys together, whether it’s a good day or bad.  A lot of them may think it’s a bad day, but obviously we all want to win, but in the end, finishing second and being in contention for race wins and having the speed in the car is really what you’re looking for early in the year, and if you can knock out a couple wins, that’s what you want to do.

It’s definitely    we have to build it one week at a time, and that confidence and that character that comes with winning or losing is part of it.

Q.  We had a race today where a group of guys led chunks of laps, you and then Kyle, the 48 and of course the 11 at the end. What was behind all that?  Was there adjustments, car adjustments? Did the track change?  What put different guys up front for such long stretches?

KEVIN HARVICK:  You know, I think some of it probably had to do with tire strategy, and when guys had to put four on they’d get shuffled back and when you put two on, you’d keep your track position up front.  You know, I think it was a group of cars that were probably the fastest cars all day and probably those are the ones that you’re talking about.

Q.  Usually you’ve run toward the middle of the pack for most of the race and then you inch your way closer and then try to win at the end.  How did it feel today to have a dominant car for a majority of the day?  You were always up front.

KEVIN HARVICK:  Well, that’s the way we’d like to do it. We don’t intentionally qualify in the middle of the pack, and I think qualifying helped us get our track position and keep our track position all day.  Shane called a good race, and we were able to keep ourselves up front.  I think a lot of that starts with qualifying.

KERRY THARP:  Kevin, congratulations on a good run.  We’ll see you in Las Vegas.

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