Saturday, Dec 02

Kevin Harvick New Hampshire Transcript

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang – WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT QUALIFYING FOR TODAY, ESPECIALLY WHEN A LOT OF PEOPLE CONSIDER NEW HAMPSHIRE TO BE A DIFFICULT PLACE TO QUALIFY? “It is because you just have to pick up the pace, but you can’t slip the tire. It’s such a fine line of where the edge is here as far as sliding the car, or sliding the front of the car and getting off line. So, you just have to be pretty line sensitive to go fast, and you have to put the car in the right spots. It’s a balance of knowing what the pace is compared to what you did in practice, and how much faster you need to go.”


WHY DO YOU THINK YOU’RE SO GOOD AT THIS TRACK? “It’s just been a good place for us to race throughout the years. I grew up on a lot of the short tracks and flat short tracks out West, and we spent a lot of time at RCR at a lot of the flat tracks – and always ran good. That carried over to Stewart-Haas Racing and just wound up being one of our really good spots. I feel like four ‘ones’ should be 10, but I feel like that at a lot of places. So, I guess that’s just the racer’s mentality on how you think about things. It’s been a great place to race, and I’ve seen it go through some different transitions as far as the layout of the track. But, it’s been fun to come here, and we have a great following up here. I think a lot of that started when we went to the Oxford 250 in I think 2009. We’ve just had a good fan following throughout the years, so it’s been a fun place to race in front of those fans who have followed me for so long.”


WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE NEW TIRE THIS WEEKEND? “I didn’t know it was new. I have no idea. I think for the things that I’ve been able to go through so far with this car, you don’t really know until you race it. Every time I try to predict something, it’s usually wrong. I think as we’ve gone through last year and the beginning of this year, there are some places that are a little bit different on the tire compared to the other short tracks. This place is just a little bit unique, and I’m sure that’s why they switched it up a little bit for here.”


HOW DO YOU BALANCE STAYING COMPETITIVE WITH ENJOYING YOUR FINAL RACES AT MOST OF THE TRACKS? “Yeah, it’s really been no issue. We’ve had such a laid-out plan for so long, and all that was intended to know that you’re going to do things, but also put yourself in a position to be competitive. We’ve done that pretty much every week except for Chicago and North Wilkesboro. You just have to grind away, and that’s just kind of the nature of the beast. With this particular car, you’re just going to have some weeks that you’re ‘off.’ For the most part, we’ve been competitive. We’ve had a couple of chances to win races, and it just hadn’t all come together to be able to get to victory lane. From the competition side, I think everything has gone well, and the rest of it – we planned for and knew it would be more work than what a normal season would be. I think there are some places that you look at and realize everything that you’ve been able to accomplish throughout the years, and you can kind of go back. That’s the cool part about this year: You can let your guard down, go back and say, ‘Yeah, it has been a good racetrack for us.’ We’ve been fortunate enough to have some success, and this is one of those places where you can check that box, let your guard down and say, ‘Yeah, this has been a great racetrack for us, and we have had some success.’  That makes it fun, because there’s nothing to hide anymore. You don’t have to hide what you think about really anything, just because of the fact that next year is different. For years, I didn’t want everybody to really know what I thought, what I was thinking or know too much about you, because you can put yourself in a position where people know your weaknesses or strong points. So the less you say, the less they know. That’s not really relevant this year, and it’s been fun to kind of just let your guard down and say what you think.”


DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU AND THE TEAM ARE BUILDING TOWARD A WIN? “I do. You look back at Nashville – the car was so fast. I think we ran the leaders down by like four seconds, and then a tire went flat. We had that same thing at Phoenix and at a couple other places, and it just hasn’t worked out. You just have to keep grinding away, and hopefully you get some things that go your way like last year – keep the cars running well to put yourself in position, and then go from there.”


DO YOU FEEL ANY INCREASE IN INTENSITY INCHING CLOSER TO THE PLAYOFFS? “I don’t feel like anything changes anymore. I think there’s probably some desperation, as you saw with some of the circumstances at Atlanta – staying out, hoping for rain… and Chicago, trying to put yourself in position with the pit cycle and things like that. So, there’s definitely some ‘Hail Marys.’ They work every once in a while, so you never know, right? It’s definitely different with this car, because it is so intense every week with the restarts and what you have to do to pass. For us, it doesn’t really change because in 2015, we just decided to race every week like it was a playoff week. If you have to switch gears, you’re in big trouble. It’s a different way to race.”


WE HAVE HAD SHORTENED RACES THE LAST FEW WEEKS. ARE THERE ANY TAKEAWAYS THAT CAN BE APPLIED FOR THE FUTURE? “Well, I think Atlanta needed to go all the way with the way the stages broke up and everything. I think Chicago was scheduled to be too long, and I think if we start a race in the rain, we need to have a time limit or something. Because, the rain laps are so much slower and it just winds up taking all day. But I think that 75 laps at Chicago would have been fine. I think everyone will probably go back, look and review, and see that the shorter race at that particular place would have been fine. I’m still of the opinion that if the race starts in wet weather – if it’s on an oval or we’re in hurry-up mode like we were at Atlanta – then we should have the rolling stages like we do on the road courses. I think you should have that option to clarify that before the race, because we might have been able to get the whole race in if we didn’t stop for the stages. So, probably not. But, it would have given you a better opportunity. I think you need to have those hurry-up modes and possibly talk about time. Time really became of the essence at Chicago, just because of the fact that it was going to get dark. But, I think that race being 75 laps would have been fine, even in the dry.”


WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS WITH SHR AND KHI? “There’s really nothing happening at Stewart-Haas Racing for me personally. But, I think from a management standpoint, we’ve gone and restructured all that to be able to spend more time with the drivers and the things that they are doing – the teams. We will run several late models and super late models out of our shop next year. That’s already in process. We’ve been going through the new look of what everything will look like as far as KHI and KHI Management. We opened up an E-Z-GO dealership in Mooresville. So, that stuff is more of the retirement stuff and it’s all been in play for the last year and a half. As to what it looks like when Phoenix is over: All that stuff will be functioning already by the end of the year. There are already a few cars that are in the shop, and we’ve been transitioning through facilities as far as storage, shop space and things like that.”


OTHER TRACKS HAVE GIVEN ROCKING CHAIRS THE LAST FEW YEARS, SO THE MUSKET HAS TO BE COOL FOR YOU?  “Well, I did get one rocking chair, but that was from my friend, Jake Owen. So, I do have a few rocking chairs that have come from other places. But yeah, but that’s what I want to be. I want to be full of energy and do things in a different way, and make a difference from the TV booth, with our drivers and teams we work with from a management side of things. People think and they’re like, ‘Why’d you open up a retail business?’ I’m like, ‘Well, everybody’s done everything for me for my whole entire racing career, so it’s fun to be involved on a daily basis with sales, marketing and all the things that come with a retail business.’ So, that’s really more because of a relationship and for me to give me something to do. I’ve learned, and Dale Jr. warned me of this, that I would be busier when I got out of the car than I was in the car. Because in the car, I already had an excuse to not do things. Out of the car, you have no excuse to not do anything. So, I’m learning that quickly. But I will have control of my schedule after I get done with the first half of FOX as far as what I do on the weekends. But during the week, I have to work. My wife would kill me if I didn’t work. If I was home everyday, I’d be a big problem. We would have way too many projects going on. So, it’s going to be fun because I really enjoy the race team part of it. I always said that I’d never do the race team stuff again, but I really enjoy just watching the car at Caraway with Layne Riggs in it, and watching everybody work. Now it’s to the point where we’re out hiring people, putting people in the shop and racing. So, the good news is that it doesn’t matter where it goes. As long as it’s fun, and we can enjoy it. I really enjoy the group of owners that we have with the CARS Tour and the impact we’ve made in short track racing. I’m starting to realize the impact you can make for the racers and the sport in general to help progress it in a great direction. So, that’s been kind of a learning curve of the impact you can have on things. So, we’ll continue to go forward with that and try to help people in whatever way we can to make racing great.”


YOU MENTIONED THE LATE MODEL STUFF. ARE THERE ANY BUCKET LIST RACES YOU’D LIKE TO RUN NEXT YEAR WITH YOUR LATE MODEL PROGRAM? “I mean, the plan right now is to run a lot of those races – Snowball Derby, Slinger, Nashville. However that all lies out. It just depends. The race teams are going to be primarily used for the management company drivers and the things that they want to do as we go forward. So, the teams are kind of an extension of what we’ll do from the management side to give them the opportunity to get into good cars, be safe and do the things that we can do. But also, help the CARS Tour and be able to put Cup guys in there when they want to come race. I don’t know if it’s necessarily for me. I could honestly wind up not driving another race next year if it winds up that busy. Because, I enjoy watching them. I don’t know how I’ll feel about that in June next year after you’ve  not done anything for six months. So, I think that’s sort of a moving target. But I want management and those guys to have the opportunity to go do what they want to do, and do it in good cars.”


WHICH RACER, THROUGH YOUR CAREER, HAS PUSHED YOU THE MOST TO BE AT YOUR BEST? “Well, I’m still driving. There is a limit. But I always thought it was fun when Kyle [Busch] had his team, and him and [Ron] Hornaday were going at it. We’d run races just to aggravate him for fun when I’d drive it. I think he’d do the same, and it drove him into building his own teams and out of the No. 51 Truck. That was a really fun period of time because that would carry over from Friday to Saturday to Sunday, and we’d run over each other. As we’ve gone through the years, we’ve learned to respect each other, and I think there was a great rivalry there for a number of years whether it was on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. That, to me, was a great period of time of being able to push the limits, and also have fun with that particular piece of the puzzle.”


HOW IMPORTANT ARE THE CARS TOUR AND SHORT TRACK RACING FOR BRIDGING THE GAP TO NASCAR? “Well, I think the most important thing is using our platform to expose who those short track drivers are. Josh Berry has been a huge part of that, in being able to recognize that there are a lot of good short track racers. And Josh, being able to go into the No. 4 car – and it’s not a paid-for situation – gives a lot of those guys hope that it can be done and it can be a part of just doing the right thing. Being successful and doing the right things on and off the racetrack. So, we have a lot of great racers across the country, racing at these short tracks. For us, our focus is the CARS Tour, and from what you’ve seen from the four of us, on a weekly basis just promoting the races when they’re on. If some of the guys or gals have fun Tweets or posts on Instagram, you see Dale or myself reposting that stuff trying to give them a platform to be able to have a shot. And really, try to help them understand what is actually supposed to happen from a social standpoint – how you act and how you drive. I don’t think we’ve had that over the last few years, and I think that’s why some of the racing gets sloppy at the short track levels, because they get away with it. We’re not going to let that happen. That’s important.”


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