Tuesday, May 24

Ford Performance NASCAR: Daytona 500 Media Day (Kevin Harvick)

KEVIN HARVICK, No, 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang -- YOU WERE DOING QUITE A BIT OF PIT ROAD WORK DURING PRACTICE YESTERDAY. WHAT WERE YOU TRYING TO LEARN THERE? “Yeah, I just feel like the details of the day are going to be important and I just want to try to be as comfortable as possible. The way you get into the pit box and things are different than what you did in the old car. Just making sure that I understand the acceleration of the car out of the pit box, how far to go before pit road speed and how hard to push all those details. I think as you look at it, you are kind of starting over with everything and just trying to make sure that we check as many boxes as we can whether it is as simple as bumping another car, getting in and out of the pit box. All those things need to be addressed to make sure all the details are covered to try to minimize mistakes because I really think those details are what it is going to come down to.”

 

EVERYONE IN HERE TODAY HAS PRETTY MUCH CONCEDED THE POLE TO ONE OF THE HENDRICK CARS. CAN YOU PUT A FORD ON THE FRONT ROW TONIGHT? “I honestly have not looked at the scoring monitor so I have no idea. I really have no clue. I don't even know what lap time we ran because I just don't feel like it really matters. We might be fast enough to qualify on the pole but I never even asked. I just concentrated on doing so many of the little things that I never even looked. Maybe. I don't know how to answer that.”

 

TALKING TO A BUNCH OF GUYS ABOUT BJ MCLEOD AND THE RESPECT HE HAS FROM DRIVERS FOR WHAT HE DOES BEHIND THE WHEEL AND BEHIND THE SCENES. WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM LIKE AND WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF HIM? “He is one of my favorites in the garage because I feel like BJ is the racers racer. For me, I always stop and have great conversations with BJ about whatever. It could be anything. You never know. What they have done with that team and building the process and the parts and pieces and how they have gone about things is trying to build the racing dream. All BJ wanted to do was win races and I think at this particular level he just knows that there is a budget and a process that has to go with everything that comes along with that. I think the thing about BJ is he loves racing and he is in racing for all the racers reasons and creating a successful business and he is just good people, that is the biggest thing.”

 

YOU SEE BJ AND HE HAS THE SKULLS AND BIG CHAINS AND HE DOESN'T REALLY LOOK THE PART OF A CAR OWNER OR RACE CAR DRIVER. YOU GUYS EVER GIVE HIM A HARD TIME ABOUT THAT OR ANYTHING? “Not really. That is the unique thing about people that aren’t in the garage every day. The thing you have to know about our garage is that there are all walks of life that come through that garage. When you are in there week after week after week, they are all just people. They are just part of the racing family that comes with what we do, whether it is male or female, black or white, white t-shirt with black skulls on your t-shirt, whatever. When I see BJ, I just think of a guy that loves to race and it takes everyone to do this and we are all different in our own unique ways. BJ is just another one of the guys in the garage.”

 

YOU AND KURT BUSCH CAME INTO THE CUP SERIES RIGHT AROUND THE SAME TIME AND YOU HAVE BEEN TEAMMATES WITH HIM BEFORE. WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE FOR YOU TO SEE KURT THE LAST FEW YEARS KIND OF EMBRACE HAVING AN ELDER STATESMAN-TYPE ROLE WITHIN THE SPORT? “Kurt is a competitor first off and a really good race car driver and one of my favorite teammates because of the fact that he knows so much about the race car. He is so detailed in his analysis of things that go on that whoever's team he is on he is an asset and a benefit because he will just analyze things so deeply and get in there and work on the things that he needs to work on to get better and figure out why he is not where he wants to be or why he is where he is. Kurt is just Kurt. I think he has obviously mellowed out. He is just like BJ, right? BJ is BJ and Kurt is Kurt and they aren’t trying to hide anything and do the things that they like to do. Kurt has mellowed out a little bit but when you are in there digging with him every day there is still that same fire and passion that goes with the sport. It is just controlled differently in the public eye and the things outside of the race car. Kurt is just a hard-core racer but my favorite thing about Kurt is how much he knows and will analyze the car.”

 

DO YOU HAVE A DEFINITIVE KURT BUSCH STORY FROM YOUR DAYS AS TEAMMATES? “Not any that I would share in here. There are some good ones though.”

 

YOU HAVE 17 STRAIGHT TOP-10 FINISHES AT PHOENIX INCLUDING SIX WINS AND 12 TOP-FIVE FINISHES. DO THOSE NUMBERS MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU? ARE THEY A SENSE OF PRIDE AND DO YOU ANTICIPATE BEING ABLE TO KEEP THAT ROLL GOING WITH THIS NEXT GEN CAR? “I love numbers but I never pay attention to my own for sure. I think as I go to Phoenix the expectations are always high and obviously we set that standard as a team to go there and perform well. We had a good test there and I feel good about where we left with the car and obviously will try to be better when we go back. It is a place that I have a lot of pride in general in just because of the fact that I have gone there for so long. I think the first race I ran there was in 1995 in a Southwest Tour car. It has been through one reconfiguration and it is just a place that I pride myself on running well at just because I have such a long history of going there. The flat tracks, in general, have been - and I think Phoenix is probably the start of that - but I grew up on flat tracks and Phoenix was always the biggest race of the year with the Southwest Tour cars and Winston West cars back in the day when we had the first race of the year out there. I think it is a place that I like going to and hopefully, we can keep that rolling but it means something to run good there.”

 

IS IT LIKE THE SPEED RUN DOWN HERE FOR QUALIFYING THAT YOU PAY NO ATTENTION TO THOSE NUMBERS EITHER? “I don't. I try to stay oblivious to all of that stuff. I don't know. I just feel like when you start looking -- like the qualifying thing - I honestly don't know what the lap time was yesterday just because I feel like if we do all the things we are supposed to do we will be in the mix. If it is fast it is fast. If it drivers right it will draft well and do the things we need to and it will be fine once you get to Sunday. I try to focus on the task at hand.”

 

I SAW THAT YOUR MANAGEMENT COMPANY SIGNED RILEY HERBST. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN THE DRIVERS YOU SIGN AND ARE YOU VERY INVOLVED IN THAT? “Oh yeah, they probably get tired of me asking questions about the things that happen every day. We are happy to have Riley. He and his family obviously have a long history in racing. There are so many things that go along with this sport and being able to be in a position like we are from the management side to be able to help Riley navigate the things that are difficult once you get to a certain spot in NASCAR racing. His is in the Xfinity level right now and it is just a difficult sport to manage because if things aren’t going your way you can be beat down so quick from a mental standpoint and not really know how to navigate the team. From the management side of things I feel like we bring a lot of real-life experience to a lot of the young guys in trying to help them navigate their careers and teams. We have been on the TV side of it and the team ownership side of it and we have athletes in other sports so I look at NASCAR as easy. Those are the easy ones just because we have so much experience and the same group of people that we have navigated this sport with for a long time. Two decades with some of them that are in the office. This part is easy, yeah. I think the other sports are good for us to learn other sanctioning bodies and how other athletes tick. Here we have been there and done that and keep up with the evolution of the sport and feel like we can bring a lot to his career to help him navigate it.”

 

WITH ARIC ALMIROLA GETTING READY TO RETIRE, WHAT HAS HE MEANT TO YOU AS A TEAMMATE? “Aric is one of those guys that just seems to always do the right thing and that is how he presents himself in meetings and every situation that I have ever seen Aric in he is always polite and kind and doing the right thing. I think as a competitor he has obviously done a great job of being competitive and doing the things he wants to do and now he is doing what he wants to do at the time he wants to do that from the retirement side of things. Just a standup person and a quality teammate. I keep going back to this but he is just a great person. There are a lot of great people in our garage.”

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