Talladega interview with Kevin Harvick

Kevin HarvickKEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS met with media and discussed driver’s hand signals, drug testing at KHI, on the possibility of Tony Stewart being a NASCAR car owner, racing at Bakersfield, visiting the Shell Oil rig and more.

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO SEE ON SUNDAY? “That is a good question. I think everyone is a little anxious to see how the car reacts to the restrictor plate change. It might pack ‘em up more. Might make it harder to pass. I don’t really know how these cars are going to react. This is the first restrictor plate change we have had, that I know of.”

ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE INABILITY TO SEE THE DRIVER IN FRONT OF YOU MAKING A WAVE? SOME DRIVERS HAVE EXPRESS CONCERN: “It is not a concern for me. I stick my hand out the window, the left side window.”

HOW ABOUT OTHER GUYS BEING ABLE TO SEE WHAT THEIR INTENTIONS ARE? “I think that their intentions should be to fix their window net and use the left side of the car. That always works better for me.”

TALK ABOUT HOW KEVIN HARVICK, INC. GOT THEIR NEW DRUG TESTING POLICY PUT IN PLACE: “After the whole drug testing thing in Phoenix, we went home and changed the whole policy that we have at our company. All the drivers and crew chiefs volunteered to take a random drug test. We did that, and then we put an outside company to put a random drug test and policy in place. The whole company will be tested within a week. We have got most of them done and haven’t had any failures yet, so that is a good thing. That is something that we can probably fix here by just putting a policy in place that if you want to get a hard card, you have to get tested by teams – they have an outsource come in and randomly drug test all the teams as they submit their approvals for a hard card you have to send your drug test with it. That would make it a lot easier on NASCAR. If you go to the infield care center, it should be just like the drug policy at a lot of the shops, if you wreck or something and have to go through the infield care center, it should be standard procedure to take a drug test as you go through there,. If you have been through there 10 times in 10 weeks, that should be a standard procedure. I think that would fix a lot of the questions that we have and be a pretty simple solution.

“I am proud that we went home and made ours right. We are considered a drug-free environment at KHI and we have a facility that handles that testing for us, it is a pretty simple procedure. I have learned a lot about drugs over the last week and a half and how you can and can’t handle things legally. Luckily our drivers were nice enough to volunteer their time to go to the drug testing facility so Hornaday, Sprague, Cale Gale and myself and all our crew chiefs, went over there and got that all handled. So hopefully everyone will follow suit. It will be good for our garage. I really think the hard card thing would fix a lot of our problems, because every figure in this garage has a hard card, it would just be a pretty simple process.”

WAS IT DIFFICULT TO GET THE DRUG TESTING POLICY IN PLACE? “I am fortunate to have good people back at the shop that are able to spend the time to put those programs in to place. It was a time consuming process to put the programs in to place, for about a week. But, once we got it going, it wasn’t that big of a deal and I think it is something that will benefit everybody down the road. I think it is something that the whole sport can be proud of if we can get it to that point.”

DID YOU TALK YOUR BUDDY SMOKE (TONY STEWART) IN TO BEING A CAR OWNER? “I don’t know that I talk Tony in to anything, I am not going to get in the middle of all of that. I don’t really know one way or the other. I am here to be Tony’s friend. Whether he would drive at Joe Gibbs Racing or at RCR in the fourth car or own his own team doesn’t really matter to me. Tony is one of my best friends and I want to be a sounding board if he is going to do something and don’t want to be politicking to get him to do one thing or another. I want to be his friend and help him through the process. It is no different than any of the rest of us. I want him to make the right decision for himself. I am all for seeing him in a Chevrolet; Tony is an American guy, so I think that would be good for everybody.”

ARE YOU AND DELANA ANY FURTHER ALONG ON BEING A DRAG RACE TEAM OWNER? “Well, the drag race stuff is something that I am exploring. As the sponsors become harder and harder to find, NHRA goes to a lot of different places that we don’t go to. It opens up a lot of different markets. Whether that would be in top-fuel or funny car, we are definitely interested in exploring that route and seeing where it goes. It would be something we would need to have done by the end of the summer to put everything in place and get the shop where it needed to be and hire the right people. Definitely something we are going to explore over the next couple of months. Don’t know where that ball will land. We went to Vegas last week and checked all that out. There is a lot of exciting things happening over there and going to be some changes that go on. Where we land as far as how we approach it or who we approach it with is yet to be determined.”

HAS THE NEW TALLADEGA SURFACE CHANGED YOUR DRIVING STYLE HERE? “The surface is awesome. It is very smooth. You don’t worry about the handling of your car; you worry about the speed of your car. As a driver from the mental aspect, it helps because you don’t have to worry about the car moving around, anything crazy. You just worry about how it sucks up and how it works in the front of the pack, the back of the pack, the middle of the pack and things like that.”

DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE MORE RACEY OR LESS RACEY THAN LAST FALL? “That all depends on what this restrictor plate does to it. I think everybody was pretty nervous about how everybody was going to act in a pack and how they were going to make things happen as far as the race went and if there was going to be a big wreck. I think the cars didn’t suck up as good as we all expected them to so the race got kind of single file there and as the speeds crept up, they obviously wanted to see that come down but be interesting to see this first practice, this will tell us a lot.”

CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE ALL-STAR RACE? “The All-Star race is a fun event. It isn’t fun if you get your stuff tore up which is nine times out of 10 what happened to us. But, it is a different atmosphere just because you can kind of throw caution to the wind, really make some things happen that you normally wouldn’t do with really no consequences other than tearing your car up, point-wise or anything like that. It is interesting to see the different approach and mindset that everybody comes in with that weekend. It is a fun event. Sometimes it can be a little bit frustrating just for the fact you can tear your stuff up that you might want to race next week, but that is part of it.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW FORMAT? “Ok, so it is four segments. I know I am going to be in the burnout competition that is all I know. That is the only thing I know and I know we are going to be in the All-Star race. The format is a little bit hard, just because you really don’t know what is right and what is wrong. Everybody wants that we4ekend to be exciting so it interesting to see what the format is this year.”

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE ALL STAR RACE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? “I would make it have some point implication, whether it be bonus points or something like that. We spend a lot of time and effort getting ready for that, it could be a small amount of points or a small bonus of some sort, just to make it a little more meaningful.”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ALL STAR MOMENT? “I think would be going three-wide, being on the top and being able to take the lead. It was kind of one of those All-Star moments I guess you could say to go up and do something you normally wouldn’t do and put yourself in that position. It was a make or break move, I was either going to hit the wall or make it. We made it and wound up having it pay off in a million different ways.”

TALK ABOUT YOUR TRIP FOR SHELL TO THE OFF-SHORE OIL PLATFORM YESTERDAY: “We went out to Brutus, the oil rig about 100 and some miles out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Road in a helicopter an hour each way over the water. That was pretty interesting to see all the guys on the rig there and see how the rig worked and all the amount of effort that Shell puts in to making gas and natural gas, as well of all the different types of energy that they are involved with. There is a lot of effort that goes in to all of it and a lot of time and a lot of money, just to get it to the point of actually pumping oil out of the ground.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT NASCAR TAKING A CAMPING WORLD EAST WIN AWAY FROM PEYTON SELLARS BECAUSE OF A SHOCK INFRACTION? “It is a pretty harsh penalty. It is not consistent with what they have done in these series. So that makes it tough. I know you can’t pay $100,000 fine or something like that if you are one of those teams. We got in to a similar situation last year with a base-valve shock we accidentally put on the car in one corner. I don’t remember the exact fine, but it wasn’t a win, it was points. That is tough on those guys. They live week to week and to take something away like that is tough. Obviously, they should have been penalized, but it makes it tough to keep going when you race week-to-week like that. Those guys don’t race a lot of races; to take a whole event away from somebody is pretty harsh.

“It is very easy to make mistakes. A lot of those guys buy parts from teams like us and the Cup teams where you can run base-valve shocks. That is what is a little bit confusing about the rules. You can run base-valve shocks in the Truck division, but you can’t run base-valve shocks in the Nationwide division and you can run base-valve shocks in the Cup division. If they would simplify the shock rule across the board, it could probably make things a lot easier because it is very simple to leave those parts in the shocks and you wouldn’t run three shocks legal and one shock illegal. It seems like there needs to be a little more common sense from a race director standpoint. To me that was something, especially with a team that doesn’t have a past history of having a bunch of trouble. I think it could have been handled a little bit better. That is my opinion.”

IS JEFF BURTON GOING TO BE PRETTY STEADY AND NOT DISTRACTED LEADING THE POINTS? “I think that might be a better question to ask Jeff. Jeff is a pretty level headed guy, but I really can’t answer that.”

WHAT IS DALE EARNHARDT, SR.’S LEGACY IN THIS SPORT? “I think he has left a tremendous legacy. I didn’t have a lot of personal interaction with Dale one way or another, so there wasn’t a huge personal relationship with him. But obviously he is a huge part of why RCR is where it is at today and where our sport is at today. To me he is a very important figure for a lot of us to look up to as we grew up race fans and a lot of us grew up to looking up to him as to what we wanted to be someday. Like I said, he is very important to not only my car and our team as well as our sport in general.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF DANICA PATRICK GETTING HER FIRST IRL WIN IN JAPAN? “I think it was an odd weekend to get a first win with the two series being split up. I am excited for Indy Car Racing to get back to where they need to be with everyone together. I don’t know, it would be interesting to see how she would do here (Talladega). I think this is a much more competitive garage than what they have over there. It would be a little bit tougher road to hoe than what she has got right now.”

TALK ABOUT GOING TO RACE IN BAKERSFIELD: “We are going back home. We are going to a neat fundraiser at home for my high school that I went to. We are going to build them a new wrestling room. We are going to have a fund raiser the Wednesday before Sonoma. We are having about 2,000 people in attendance. I actually grew up in Oildale, California which is in Bakersfield. The dirt track is right down the street and I have never raced there. We reach out to see if they would be interested in having us there. That is literally four or five minutes from my house. I am looking forward to that. I am not the world’s greatest dirt racer by any means, but it will be great for the fans. Just really trying to help the racing community. Bakersfield has always been a huge racing community and we want to support the dirt tracks and the go-kart tracks and the new asphalt track when they get it done, to keep racing alive and well there and help it move forward. Looking forward to those events and give back to Bakersfield and the community there at home.”

IS IT AN UNFAIR EXPECTATION ON DALE, JUNIOR ABOUT NOT HAVING WON YET? “I don’t know how to answer that. This sport is hard to win in, there is always going to be a lot of pressure on him, just because of the fact he has a huge microscope on top of him. I think it is unfair to say maybe he is in a slump when he has been with the team, what, eight weeks. Sometimes the fans can get a little bit greedy and a little bit ahead of themselves not really knowing what goes in to making a team successful and having a team gel. Being with a new organization would be something that would be hard for anybody. I would say you are right, there are definitely unfair expectations. I guess those are just the standards you have to live up to when you have the responsibility he has to our sport.”

Talladega interview with Kevin Harvick

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