Ford Performance NASCAR: Kevin Harvick Loudon Media Session

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, July 19, 2019

EVENT: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, Loudon, NH.  (Media Availabilities)

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Beer/National Forest Foundation Ford Mustang – HOW DID IT ALL COME TOGETHER FOR YOU HERE AT THIS TRACK?  “It’s just like anything else, I could probably tell you the ones that we lost and felt like we should have won, and last year our car came around at the end of the race.  We had a decent car all weekend, but we capitalized on some mistakes and a good car at the end of the race, so we’ve had a good car here a number of times, just last year it finally all came together.”

American Muscle

YOU HAVE WON HERE THREE TIMES, MANY YEARS APART, IS THERE A FEEL FOR THESE CARS THAT TRANSCENDS THE MANY CHANGES THAT HAVE HAPPENED?  “I think racing is a lot like other sports.  You go through spells of capitalizing on things and having good cars and mediocre cars and circumstances and I think that part of this sport is those streaks come and go at certain race tracks.  At RCR we had a lot of good, flat track races at Richmond and Loudon and we only won here one time and I thought this was one of our better tracks, so I think as you look at different race tracks I feel like we’ve always run fairly well here.  I feel like we probably should have been to victory lane 10 times here, but you look at the results and it’s just hard to win these races, but over the last few years it’s gone OK and we’ve been on the right side of it.”

PJ1 AT POCONO NEXT WEEKEND.  WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?  “Our car was extremely fast there last time and the steering box broke, so I feel like we had a lot to build on for us individually as an organization and team we’re still trying to recover from not being where we needed to be to start the season.  The progression for us has been rapid.  There’s been a lot of different things that have been tried as we’ve gone over these last two months and we’re still building and trying to get the cars exactly where we’d like them to be, but Pocono was definitely a race we could have won with the circumstances going right and it seems like on the days where we’ve had chances to win, we’ve just either made mistakes or we’ve had something go wrong.  It’s probably been three or four, maybe five times this year that we’ve had those opportunities and just haven’t capitalized on them, but Pocono was definitely one of those races.  I feel like we’ve been able to hopefully make the car better than it was last time.  I think we’ve done that every week, so I think as you go there with the PJ1 a lot of that came from the meeting at Daytona with the communication from the drivers and NASCAR and everybody trying to figure out how to make the racing better there and with these particular cars and the way that passing has been so difficult lanes are a good option for all of us to make the racing better.  I think from the outside looking in, the race is OK to watch.  From inside the car it’s a little bit frustrating just because of how difficult it has been to pass at some of the race tracks, so I think with as much better as we are as a sport in adding the PJ1 at a lot of these race tracks and seeing the results.  I mean, it was way better at Kentucky than it had been in the past.  You look at this particular race track and Bristol and we’ve just done a lot better job.  You look at the science that goes into when you spray it, how you spray it, all the things that come into play.  The long and short of the story is we’ve just become a lot better at the traction compound and the things that we do and when we put it down and where we put it down and you see a lot more people open to it because it’s more consistent.   We need lanes as drivers in order to go where the other car isn’t in order to pass, and I think that’s really the reasoning behind Pocono.

“You see them spray it all the way to the wall here and you saw it was better last week at Kentucky.  It didn’t get all the way up, but it at least gave you an option outside of the preferred bottom lane, so I think we’re making gains on it as a sport and I think that will be interesting because you never know how far out on the straightaway you need it, how far up you need it, and you just have to do it and I think this will be a good step.”

LOOKING AT THE GEN 7 CAR, IS THERE A LOT THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE FOR THE INTERMEDIATE PACKAGE?  “I think a lot of it is just driveability.  I think that’s everybody’s focus right now is just driveability in traffic to make the driver more useful in the car.  I think everybody knows that and everybody is working on that.  I think that’s one reason why the PJ1 is such a necessity and everybody has been so open to it because you just want to make it better, so, yes, I would agree that the mile-and-halves are better to watch, for sure, especially if we have cautions.”

WHY HAVE YOU BEEN SUCH AN ADVOCATE FOR GRASSROOTS TRACKS?  “One, it’s awareness.  Two, in my opinion and this is how the conversation started when this kind of took off a couple years ago at Phoenix and after the race.  I think the biggest reason to me is the fact that Winston used to cover a lot of the expenses and shortfalls that a lot of these short tracks had.  When Winston went away and that connection between the Winston Racing Series and the Winston Cup Series started to separate through the years it took time for that to dwindle and racing has changed, and you don’t have that same short track connection that you had.  In my opinion, that’s where a lot of the grassroots fans live, and I feel like there’s been a huge disconnect over the last five or six years of participation from what’s happening here and what’s happening there.  Really, I’ve said this a number of times that running the K&N races a few years ago, three or four years ago, you really started to hear that opinion of, ‘we just really need some help here.’  And you hear so many race fans talk about they don’t like when this driver comes and runs this series or that series, but the competitors actually do like it because it brings attention to their series.  Attention to their series brings more people in the stands.  More people in the stands brings more value to the sponsorship.  For us, we’ve had a lot of success with our short track series contingency programs.  I think we have three of them now.  We have one on the Spears SRL Series.  We have one at Stafford Speedway and then we have one with Bill McAnally and his track in California.  You’re talking about $125 to $150 buck at a time, but when you can take the 13th-place driver like we do at Stafford and make him make the same money as the sixth or seventh-place driver, that’s a pretty big deal to that guy who is running mid-pack, struggling to get to the race track, and maybe he paid for one or two tires that night.  You’re not talking about a lot of money.  I tell a lot of people this when we deal with our foundations and the things that we do at our public high schools, especially at home, it doesn’t take a lot of money.  Some of them it just takes time, so the short tracks, to me, has a direct effect on TV ratings, fans in the grandstands, especially in the local market and you see a lot of these race tracks participating with their local markets, whether they’re dirt tracks or asphalt tracks or whatever they may be, and drawing all of that together is important for the health of this sport and racing in general.”

WHEN DID THIS STYLE OF RACING START WITH GUYS RACING ALL OVER THE TRACK?  I FEEL IT WASN’T THAT WAY 10 YEARS AGO?  “If you drove like this 10 years ago, you’d have had a fist in your mouth.  What changed were the rules and when every spot becomes that much more difficult to achieve, you have to defend the spots that you have because you know that you might not get it back, and you know that you have to block.  Blocking is a part of what we do.  Defending your position is a part of what we do and it’s just an evolution of where the rules package is.  Heck, I had a blown motor last week, a broken engine and was only three-tenths off the pace, so you’re talking about small amounts of time, especially on the mile-and-a-half race tracks, where you know if you can keep somebody behind you, and that comes with side-drafting and blocking and all those things that if they’re directly behind you, there’s now way they’ll pass you because of the aero.”

HOW WILL THE HEAT PLAY A FACTOR IN HOW YOU APPROACH THE RACE THIS WEEKEND?  “I think it’ll come into play a little bit with the handling of the car.  I think as you look at it, I always look forward to coming up here because it’s always the cooler portion of the summer stretch and the last couple years we’ve gone to Chicago and you come here and those have been our hottest races as we’ve gone through the summer.  The heat for us inside the car is not gonna be something that’s abnormal this time of year.  For the fans it’s gonna be abnormal in this portion of the country, but I think as you look at it, it’ll be interesting to see where the grooves go and how the cars fall off because I think handling will be a little bit more difficult with the temperatures up like they will be.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CONTINUITY YOU’VE HAD WITH RODNEY THE LAST FEW YEARS?  “I think where you really see that come into play, especially this year when things didn’t’ get started off well, we’ve had things not go 100 percent right, you have that connection and that communication to be able to productively work on things and keep things moving in the right direction, and we’ve definitely done that.  We haven’t been to victory lane, but we’ve slowly but surely progressed in the right direction and that’s really where you see that continuity and that relationship and experience as a group together pay off.”

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