Saturday, Oct 01

Ford Performance NASCAR: Kansas Media Availability (Kevin Harvick)

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Rheem Ford Mustang -- WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO START GETTING ON THERE AND JUMPING INTO THE CONVERSATION? 

“Yeah, well, you know, I think it's just, you know, I think it's just time. Right? You know, I think it's just there needs to be some, some better leadership on just the whole safety situation. And, you know, my road is shorter than most everybody's been here. So, you know, I think it's just, you know, it was just after the whole fire thing at Darlington, and the reaction on Tuesday was drastic but way too late. I think, as we look at the fire problem for me, and I start digging through how that whole thing had transpired and gone down. Then you look at the car and you start asking questions, and you're like, ‘Well, why did everything melt?’ Well, this is really not 100% fire-resistant. And, you know, here's the coating that we presented a couple months ago after Chase’s fire and it's been rejected. Now, this week, it's all in there, you got a piece of stainless on there. So that reaction, as I go back and talk to my guys, and we basically had a car catch on fire at every test. So it's not like it was a new problem. We had the 48 catch on fire at Darlington, I think the first race. And so we've seen a lot of these instances, and it's just a really, really slow reaction. And, I think if the teams were in charge of stuff like that, and the proper input was put in place, we would have never had more than two fires if the teams were in charge for the whole field, because they would have collaborated and not been so slow to react. So, the whole safety thing is really kind of second fiddle right now. And I just don't think that's fair to the drivers. I do not think it's fair to the drivers, and we can debate all day but debating isn't really fixing anything. I think when I look at the car itself,  it's not rear impacts, it's not front impacts, it's not side impacts, it's all impacts. No matter what they're filtered data says it's not what the drivers are feeling. And we need a louder voice. As I sat and thought about it this week, it really needs to have more of an independent group that makes the decisions on how to implement things and how to go through a process that's outside of NASCAR and the teams, because NASCAR is slow to react, and the teams are always worried about money. And that doesn't do anything for the drivers.

 

IS THE INFRASTRUCTURE THERE TO MAKE QUICK CHANGES ON SOME OF THESE THINGS?

“We did it in a day.  Teams can still make parts. The teams can do way more than all these people that are making the parts. All the smart people live in the teams. All the problems get solved in the teams. A ll the smart people work on the race teams, and they're the ones that fix the problems. And that's how we got to where we are today. If it weren't for the teams, the rules would not look anything like they did in the racing wouldn't be as good as it is. The teams are the ones that fix the problems. We would not wait as long as we have but the drivers are the piece that's way out of line right now. I think that the safety thing should go into a bucket that has a council of some sort, a board of sorts that handles these types of problems. When it goes into that safety bucket, NASCAR teams don't have don't have a say in it. Safety can't be about money. I've lived this man. I've watched. I watched when we had all the trouble with Adam (Petty) and Kenny Irwin and then it resulted in Dale Earnhardt and then all of a sudden, it was mandatory to wear Hans devices, it was mandatory to wear the Hutchins device. We developed soft walls. It can't be slow, the safety cannot be slow. This car is it's screwed up as far as the way that it crashes. And whether the data says it or not, every driver in this garage will tell you that's not right and it hurts. Feet hurt, hands hurt, head hurt. And there has to be a better solution. When we want to solve problems, we can solve them quick, super quick. I think that that plan didn't come together in one day because there wasn't stuff that was not already in the process, but it was just too slow to be implemented. And now, unfortunately, we're in the spot that we're in. But the positive that came out of it was there was a lot of progress made on a situation that shouldn't have been there in September. 



WHERE IS THE DIALOGUE NOW? HOW DO YOU WHERE DO YOU FEEL LIKE THINGS ARE? 

“Here it is. I feel like this is the dialogue.”

 

SO NO DIALOGUE WITH NASCAR STILL? 

“No. And look, I've been on both sides of this. And it's the reason that I didn't stay on the driver council because things were too slow. Like, if I was running it, it just happens too slow for me. I think this is playing the politically correct, you know, we got to keep our eye on the racing, we got a TV contract coming up, whatever all that is. It is still not fair to the drivers to be compromised inside of the car and have the slow reaction that we're having, and not listening to every hit hurts, because every hit hurts.”

 

AND THEIR ARGUMENT WOULD BE, WELL, IF THEY PUT SHROUDS ON YOU GUYS. THEY'VE CHANGED GLUES BEING USED IN IT, THEY'VE MADE STEPS.

“That is their problem. They want to argue. Why does the Kevlar burn Bob? Why does the foam melt? Do we know those answers? They're not as fire retardant as they should be. The only reason I stopped this weekend is because the flames were coming inside the freaking car. Because this used to all be steel right there. And you look at the foam, all the foam it looks like a marshmallow. So, you know, I think now it's all coated with the coating that we presented two months ago. That doesn't catch on fire on the right side of the car. Like I say things have progressed. And we are here today. But it can't be that slow. There's just no reason. It is not fair to the drivers to be compromised like we are right now and not have at least a progress plan. And it's not just a rear clip. It's a front clip, a rear clip, side, every hit hurts.”

 

AND THE REASON WOULD BE THAT IF YOU MAKE A CHANGE, WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF A CHANGE? AND ALSO IF YOU ALLOW TEAMS TO MAKE PARTS …

“We are only making parts in emergency situations, Bob? Right now you're in an emergency situation because the car doesn't crash right.”

 

SO IS THAT THE SOLUTION BECAUSE YOU KNOW, YOU HEAR THAT MAYBE THEY COULD DO SOMETHING IN THE OFF-SEASON.

“I don't know what the solution is but I know it needs to be way faster. And if you start in the offseason, it's going to be a complete cluster to try to get it done before the Clash. So where are we headed here? Like, what's the plan? Every driver in here is tired of hitting the wall and having been hurt. Tired of hitting a car at 20 miles an hour and rear ending somebody and having your Hans lock out? Your filtered data may say that it's the same, but it's not the same. And when you really start looking at it, and, you know, I know, Denny has talked about this before and you look at how quick the hits come up and how fast everything accelerates. You know, I think it's very apparent that it's not the same, the total G might be the same, but the quickness that you get there is very different. And I think the best example that I have is when I came over the hill earlier in the year at Sonoma and was going, what 60 miles an hour, full lock, just from impact with the 2 car.  Just he was checked up and I checked up and it went full lock. That's not normal. That's not right. I can't tell you how many guys have talked about the side impacts and how bad they hurt at low speeds. It's just time to listen to the driver and stop worrying about the data.”

 

YOU TALKED ABOUT AN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION OR INDEPENDENT GROUP KIND OF WORK? HOW DO YOU ENVISION IT? 

“I don't know. I just know that when it falls into safety, it has to be taken out of the hands of how much it costs. That can't be the answer. If you have four or five guys from teams, and you know, we all have people that analyze parts and analyze the data and analyze the crashes and implement new ideas to solve problems. Every team -- all the top teams have that and if you get those guys involved, and you have somebody from NASCAR and somebody from the RTA, they can listen, that's fine but there needs to be an independent group that helps speed up this process and tells the teams and NASCAR how we're going to implement this to fix the safety side of it. Safety has to come before cost. And it doesn't right now.”

 

HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT GETTING OUT OF THE CAR? WOULD YOU EVER CONSIDER THAT IF YOU FELT IT WASN’T SAFE?

 

“I think the biggest concern right now is you have another Kurt Busch situation. If we just keep letting it go, why do we want that situation? That's the situation that you're in.”

 

DO YOU FEEL LIKE THEY'VE TRADED BEING SAFE FOR THE MOST WORST ACCIDENTS AND ANOTHER PROBLEM? LIKE THEY FIXED INTRUSION AND THINGS LIKE POTENTIALLY WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO RYAN NEWMAN. SO THEY FIX THAT, AND NOW HAVE CREATED THIS PROBLEM THAT YOU'RE SEEING WITH KURT BUSCH?

“I don't know. But if we had the right group of people talking about it together I could have some better answers on that for you. If there was open dialogue with the right people on the teams and the situations that are happening. I just know that it can't be, ‘Well, the data doesn't show this, the drivers don't know what they're talking about’. The hell it doesn't. We're the ones out there, banging into something every week. And I guarantee you, every one of them will tell you the same thing about the small impacts and the big impacts. Those are the facts.”

 

I THOUGHT IT WAS MORE OF A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT.

“Whatever we call the the new stuff is exactly where the drivers council was when it all ended. You know, it starts off great and get a couple of wins. But, you know, now we're in a big situation.”

 

WHY ARE YOU COMFORTABLE PUTTING YOURSELF OUT THERE TO BE THE VOICE HERE? WHY ARE YOU COMFORTABLE IN THIS POSITION?

“Because it just feels like the right thing to do for my colleagues”

 

DO YOU FEEL EXTRA PRESSURE BEING KIND OF ONE OF THE LAST DRIVERS FROM THE EARLY 2000S ERA? 

“I've watched it? I've watched this whole process when it's too slow.”

 

IS THAT WHAT KEPT YOU FROM MAYBE BEING MORE VOCAL EARLIER? OR WERE YOU JUST DOING IT MORE BEHIND THE SCENES?

“I mean, you want to believe that it's just gonna happen, right. The process and the way that things are gonna go.  Like, this feels better. This feels right. But we're kind of right in the same spot that we were with the last driver council.” 

 

Have they come to you and asked what you think about this? 

“No. No.”

 

WOULD YOU BE OPEN TO THAT?

“I'm open to anything if it has a progression to resolution.”

 

WHO'S YOUR GO-TO PERSON AT NASCAR RIGHT NOW? 

“You.”

 

SO YOU DON'T EVEN GET A CALL ON THE OTHER SIDE, LIKE AN ANGRY CALL, LIKE, YOU KNOW, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS IN THE MEDIA? WHY DON'T YOU TALK TO US BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

“I've asked. I've asked enough questions. So we're here.”

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