Ford Performance NASCAR: Kevin Harvick Bristol Media Availability

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, August 16, 2019
EVENT: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, Bristol, TN. (Media Availabilities)

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Mustang – WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR MOST MEMORABLE WIN?  “For me, I think winning the Daytona 500 is probably the one that sticks out the most.  I think that’s our sport’s biggest race and it’s a difficult race to win.  You see several of our great past champions and drivers that haven’t won that race and so I was fortunate to win that one and, for me, winning at Indy was pretty neat just for me wanting to grow up and being a huge Rick Mears fan and winning there was neat for me, and then winning the championship race in Homestead.  Those would probably be my top three if I had to pick.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT IN THIS CURRENT PLAYOFF FORMAT TO BE PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME?  “Any good momentum, especially from winning, is huge momentum.  I think for us you look at last year and probably the best year I’ve ever had in my career in not winning the championship there were probably a few things that go into not winning a championship, but I think you look at the 22 car and the momentum they had going into the last 10 races was more important at that particular time of the year than what we had done early in the year, so it’s definitely different.  There’s two parts to the season and obviously to win the championship you want to be hot at the right time, but winning races also makes the year more tolerable as you go through the first 26, so you’d love to put it all together, unfortunately, it never seems like it all comes together.  Even the year we won the championship in this format it didn’t really all come together until the end of the year, just because we had so many parts failures and things go wrong, and building a team at the beginning of the year, but we had fast cars and were able to put it all together at the end of the year.  We’ve been on both sides of it and you never know what each year is going to bring, especially in a year like this when you have a lot of rule changes and a lot of things that are different.  For me, I didn’t really enjoy the change in rules and the change in things and it took me a few months to get over that and realize I drive cars for a living and I just need to make mine go faster than everybody else’s, and I think once we started getting things settled down and getting our cars back to where we needed to be and in the right frame of mine, we’ve got things going in the right direction, so it’s been a good few months, really.  We’ve had a chance to win some races that we didn’t win as well, so it’s been OK.”

American Muscle

YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT HAPPENED TO DALE JR. AND HOW SOBERING IT IS.  YOU GUYS FLY AROUND A LOT.  “First off, I’m just glad everybody is OK.  I think as you put it all into perspective and you really realize the amount of time that you spend in an airplane and all the places that you go and things that you do and the amount of time that is required to travel, it’s definitely a reminder of things that can happen.  But just thank God everybody is OK because you look at the pictures and all the things that went on, it’s amazing that everybody is OK and, in the end, that’s the best part of that scenario.  There’s really no good part of it other than everybody is OK.”

WHEN WE’VE HAD SITUATIONS LIKE THIS IN THE PAST EVERYBODY HAS REALLY LOOKED HARD AT THEIR SITUATION AND MADE SURE EVERYTHING WAS UP TO DATE SAFETY-WISE, THEIR PROCEDURES AND STUFF LIKE THAT.  WILL IT CAUSE YOU TO DOUBLE-CHECK WITH YOUR PEOPLE?  “I don’t really know 100 percent the scenario, but Delana and I have really tried to not ever take anything for granted and overdue the things that we have on that side of the world.”

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT HAS SURPRISED YOU THIS SEASON?  “Nothing surprises me anymore (laughing).  I think as you look at the world in general and you just put our little sport in a little speck of that, there’s really nothing.  You have to be prepared for anything and it’s just like the moment that you get comfortable something will creep up and grab you.  It’s no different in the car.  I tell myself after we’ve done qualifying runs and you think things are going easy, every time I get in the car you have to make sure you remind yourself to be prepared for the unexpected and make sure that you’re ready because that’s when things creep up on you when you expect them the least.  You try to be open-minded to a number of things, which this is a very open-minded season, just because of all the changes and the way that you race, the way that you set the car up, the way that you go about things is just much different than it ever has been, and I think we’ve done a good job of adjusting and still have some room to definitely have to improve some things as we go towards the end of the year, and we all know that, but it’s definitely been improving as we go and leading laps and winning races is where you have to be to win a championship and hopefully we’re getting closer to that.”

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO ADAPT THIS OPEN-MINDED MINDSET?  “I’ve been that way for a few years.  That’s why I’m still here.”

IS THIS FORMAT WE HAVE NOW EASIER TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP OR HARDER?  “It’s different, and that’s really the only way that you can explain it because it’s more fun to watch from a fan’s perspective, and I think everybody understands that.  It’s no different than any other sport.  You have to evolve and in the end we are in the entertainment business and we have to have people watching in order to put sponsors on the car and butts in the seats and those are the number one priority.  So in order to keep up with the times, you had to keep up with what people think are exciting and I think the format is exciting.  I think it’s obviously from a competitor’s standpoint very intense and it’s hard to get to the final four, and so for us it’s really once you get in the Playoffs it’s more of a survive and advance mentality.  I think however you do that, whether it looks good on paper or not, you just have to get to the next round and that’s much different than collect as many points as you can and try to get to the end of the year as it was previously.”

ANY PLANS FOR THE OFF WEEK?  “We have a lot going on and in the end thought he’s (Keelan) got to get home and get to bed because he’s way out of whack.  He is definitely not in school form, so we’re staying close to home.  We’ll go ahead and have a lot of things planned, but they’ll be in the morning because we have to get to bed.  Staying up until 9:00 or 10:00 traveling around the country is not gonna be good for Monday morning school, so we’ll make sure that he’s prepared for school and he knows that.  We’ve had fun, so I think the reality of the situation when he has to actually wake up and go to school is when it’s not gonna be OK, so we’ll see how that goes.”

DOES THIS SEASON FEEL AT ALL LIKE 2017?  ANYTHING YOU LEARNED THAT YOU’VE APPLIED NOW?  “I asked them how we ran at Bristol the first race on Tuesday, so I’ve told you guys this before, it’s short-term memory for me win or lose.  Two thousand seventeen is great for you guys to talk about, but I have really no recollection of anything that sticks out.  It’s really week to week and what can we solve from last week that will make us better this week, and we’ll go back and they put a lot more weight on the first race than I do just because as soon as we’re done, I mean, it’s literally, ‘OK, start visualizing the next week and what do I need to do on the race track.’  You glance at your notes, but you can’t put too much stock into the notes, but this season and the way that you race and the things that you do they’re so much different than 2017.  There’s obviously experiences and things that you can take from all the different moments, but every season is drastically different and this one – the way that you go about things – it’s different than any other year that we’ve raced, but those experiences of things that we have done in the past is really what allows us to be calm with each other, work together to try to solve problems and sometimes that’s the most intriguing part of what we do is the problem-solving is different from year to year in how you approach things, but you just have to have, in my opinion, a very short-term memory of the things that you are doing and have done, and I try to put as little stock as possible in things that have happened in the past.  I know that’ s not flashy and exciting for your story, but it’s just the reality of how we approach things in our narrow-minded little world.”

HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT IT WOULD BE NEAT TO DRIVE SOME OF THE THROWBACK CARS WE’VE SEEN THROUGH THE YEARS?  “I think it’s intriguing to look back and watch and obviously that’s a cool part of our history, and I think Darlington has done a great job in bringing that story, that conversation back in and it’s been a great weekend to kind of have those throwback conversations and styles.  For me, I’m so in the moment of the things that we’re doing now and looking back I try to understand as much of it as I can, but it’s kind of like driving an Indy Car – I never really had any interest to go back and do something different because I think it’s kind of, for me, I’m fortunate to be able to do what I do and the things that I do are in the now, but watching those old videos and watching those old cars go around the race track and realizing how much different the cars were then is very fun to watch and hearing the stories.  I’d rather listen to the stories of the guys that drove the cars and worked on the cars and that, to me, is very interesting.  We had Roger Penske on the radio show and you forget the knowledge of cars that he has, the knowledge of racing and the things that the guys that have been around for 50 years, 60 years in different forms of racing is very interesting for me to listen to.  I could have talked to him all day and we always have good conversation.  For whatever reason he’s always liked me and I always liked having conversation, but whether it’s Roger Penske or Dale Jarrett doesn’t go as far back, but you listen to the old stories of those guys and Kyle Petty and the conversations are fun to have, but I never really imagined myself being in those cars because it was never really a reality or a possibility.”

WHEN YOU HEAR THOSE STORIES DOES ANY DRIVER STAND OUT?  “I don’t remember who I had this conversation with, it might have been Kyle Petty, but one guy that is just an interesting topic of conversation that comes up is David Pearson and the sole reason is the amount of success that he had not racing all the time.  I think a lot of people don’t realize how good and how much better David Pearson’s stats would have looked if he would have been in the car as much as everybody else.  It’s pretty intriguing to look at those stats and just kind of that guy that just raced and didn’t get all the real flashy headlines and things, but, in the end he won 105 races.  That’s pretty good, and not racing all the time.  So that, to me, is just one of the many interesting conversations of our past.”

YOU WERE PART OF A GENERATIONAL SHIFT WHEN YOU CAME INTO THE SPORT.  AS YOU LOOK AT THE NEXT GENERATION NOW HOW DO YOU SEE THAT GROUP CHANGING THE SPORT?  “For me, it’s a little bit different than it was then.  Experience is so much more valuable now than what it was then because you have so little practice time.  You can’t just go to the race track.  When I started we just went to the race track and practiced and tested and practiced and tested  We lived on the road going to  different race tracks and trying to figure it out, so you can’t really do that other than being in the simulator now.  We actually had this conversation on the radio show this week too, just about the young guys that come in it takes them a few years to really get their feet on the ground and, in my opinion, it’s more tolerated now than what it would have been then because the sponsorships aren’t as big.  You’re not paying the guy as much money because of the fact that you think that if you don’t hire him – back then, if you didn’t hire him, somebody else would have.  You have two, three, four options when you were in that generation of teams that you could go to and you took your pick, and you got paid a reasonable amount.  Now, it’s much lower risk from a financial standpoint, but it’s also coming from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series is much different because, in my opinion, it’s not as competitive as it used to be with all the Cup guys in the field, so you’re trying to gain that experience on the Cup side while you’re actually on the race track.  Chase is winning races now.  We’ve seen Blaney in Victory Lane, but it took them a few years.  But I can tell you that you have to keep up with the times and there were a lot of changes and, for me, one of my favorite stories to tell is I was doing all the testing for Earnhardt in 2000, and as we went to the race track, and one of my favorite stories is when we took the car to Indianapolis to test, that we had been doing all the development work on, he got in it and ran nine-tenths of a second faster than what he did in his own car with his standard setups, and they told him what was in the car he made them put it back in the trailer and told them that he was never driving anything like that.  So you can’t have that.  It was a different type of stubbornness, I guess, when it was that huge change because I feel like now we’ve slowly gone into the simulation since ’08 and ’09 and gone to the simulator instead of testing, so there’s many more things that those guys have come into that are more their style from a video games and simulators, so the engineering side is much more in line with the simulation and things like that, but you’ve got to keep up with the times.  You can’t be so stubborn that you don’t keep up with it, but I think there’s really no reason you can’t keep racing because of the experience side of things, and I think that leadership and guidance to the team is very valuable and we’ll just have to see what that is.  Obviously, the main player in that is Chase Elliott because of his family’s history, and now he’s having success and he’s in the conversation for winning the championship and he’s gonna be the guy that kind of leads that conversation, but I don’t know what it is at this particular point because it’s all still pretty fresh from all those young guys’ standpoint.”

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