Monday, Sep 25

Ford Performance - Kevin Harvick Transcript

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang – YOU HAVE THREE BRICKYARD 400 WINS (TWO WITH FORD). WITH THIS WEEKEND MOST LIKELY BEING YOUR FINAL CUP SERIES APPEARANCE HERE, WHAT DOES IMS MEAN TO YOU? “There’s no ‘most likely’ – it is. Maybe not my last visit, but my last time on the surface as far as that goes. But, I think for me, Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been just a great place in my racing career. Grew up a kid in Bakersfield, Calif., wanting to race in the Indy 500 like Rick Mears, and to be able to come close to living out that childhood dream of winning races at The Brickyard and having some success here has been pretty special to me. It’s fun to have celebrated that, and to come back and be able to be here one last time is something that I’ll enjoy.”


FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS, INDYCAR AND NASCAR HAVE SHARED A WEEKEND ON THE IMS ROAD COURSE. HOW DO YOU THINK IT’S GONE? “Well, I think for me, I would prefer to be on the oval. But, there are just so many things that probably are ingrained in the background of why we did it and why we race together. As a competitor, it’s neat because you get to see people that you typically don’t see on a race weekend with the IndyCar guys here. I’m not going to get into the reasons of what I think is good or bad. I personally would prefer the oval, but I think for me and everything that I’ve learned about this, there’s way more to it than my opinion. So, it’s been a unique experience to have the two groups together and to function, because racers are racers. We just race something different.”


NASCAR WILL LIKELY BE ON THE OVAL NEXT YEAR, WHILE INDYCAR WILL GO ELSEWHERE. BUT, IS THIS SORT OF EVENT SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BE PURSUED AT ANOTHER VENUE? “I’m always of the opinion that you should do something, and then move on to something else. I think it’s a unique experience and it’s much like the Clash or street courses… I think there’s always something newer and fresher to go out and try. Now, if there was 300,000 people. That’d be a different conversation.”


YOU CAN POTENTIAL CLINCH A PLAYOFF SPOT THIS WEEKEND. IS ADVANCING TO THE PLAYOFFS EVEN A CHECKLIST ITEM FOR THE SEASON? “Well, it’s definitely part of the checklist, because you have to be in it, to win it. I think that is definitely on everybody’s checklist, is to try to make the playoffs. It’s been an interesting year as far as how things have worked out. We feel like we performed okay with what we have, and the guys have done a great job in making something out of it. We’ve put ourselves in position to have a chance to win a couple races – had some bad ones, had some good ones. Kind of fought and scraped, worked through an injury after the break to over the next six weeks. We just have fought one battle after another. It’s been typical No. 4 car stuff that we’ve worked through. We’ll just keep grinding away for 13 more weeks.”


RICK MEARS HAS FOLLOWED AND COMPLIMENTED YOUR CAREER. HOW DOES IT MEAN TO YOU, COMING FROM ONE OF YOUR HEROES GROWING UP? “When I was growing up, Rick was around. I raced with Clint and Casey, but Clint mostly on the go-kart side. So anytime he would show up at the racetrack, it was pretty neat to just see him somewhere besides on TV. The Mears family in general, around the town of Bakersfield, was kind of the pinnacle of racing whether it was off-road, IndyCars or when they’d come race stock cars at Mesa Marin [Raceway] for special events. To have the guy that you idolized and have him be around to watch you race, having always some sort of connection, those are always special things to deal with. So, it’s been pretty neat. I’ve been able to interview him a couple times with the radio shows and things of that nature, so it’s always fun. He always has a great story and has been around this long enough to ‘been there, done that,’ so it’s always fun to listen to that wisdom.”


HOW MUCH PRIDE DO YOU HOLD AS THE LAST BRICKYARD 400 WINNER? “That’s good because for me, my last race on the oval I will have won. So, I feel pretty good about that. It just kind of ended up that way.”


DID YOU MENTION THAT YOU WERE INJURED EARLIER? “Oh, yeah. I fell down a flight of steps in Italy. I had a stack of busted ribs for several weeks.”


AFTER SHANE VAN GISBERGEN WON CHICAGO, THE FOCUS HAS BEEN ON THE HEEL-TO-TOE TECHNIQUE. DO YOU KNOW HOW TO USE THAT TECHNIQUE? “They taught me how to heel-toe, but I never used it. I think the interesting thing that those guys can do is modulate the brake with the clutch, and be able to just do so much more in the braking zone. Marcos Ambrose was the last one who was that good at it. I think when you look at a Montoya or someone like that, it’s just a pure bravery – ‘I’ll drive him in deeper than you’ – type situation. Those guys are finessing the thing deeper into the brake zone, and just have a more efficient technique to do that. I think when you look at Shane, if Marcos Ambrose would have been in the type of car that he’s driving, he would have shined. He shined pretty bright on the road courses, but he would have been a much brighter star if he would have had the equipment to drive what Shane has. Both seem very similar in their skill levels and success in the things they’ve done. It’s fun to watch, especially when it’s not something that I’ve ever been a part of – to have a really concentrated road racing background. Mine has always been on the ovals. But whether they do it in the rain or in the dry – whatever that is – it’s an art. They’re good at it.”


IF YOU WANTED TO USE THAT ART IN A RACE, HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT’D TAKE? “That’d be like me trying to go race IndyCar. Not going to happen. That’s just something you need to do for years to be good at.”




WITH THAT SAID, DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT THE FUTURE OF NASCAR AT IMS? “I think, for me, I do care. I have a big stake in caring about where this all goes – sitting in the TV booth, drivers, sponsors and competitors. My role is not driving anymore, but it is still very much a part of this sport that has kind of shaped my life and given me all the things I have. I want to be involved and understand what will make it better as you go forward and do something different. I’m all about mixing things up, so I think it’s important to mix it up. It’s just a matter of what brings people to the grandstands, watches on TV and the amount of eyeballs you can move the needle with. We did that with the Clash, with the [Chicago] Street Course… there’s ways to do it. It’s just a matter of what it is. There’s so many things that go into the mixture of what’s right and what’s wrong for this sport, the track, the people, the sponsors… there are just a lot of elements that need to be talked through in order to make a good decision for everybody.”


IN 2004, RON FELLOWS WAS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE ORIGINAL ROAD COURSE RINGERS AT WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL. WHEN YOU COMPARE THEN TO NOW, HOW IMPRESSED ARE YOU BY RINGERS LIKE FELLOWS WHO DID NOT HAVE THE CAPABILITIES OF THE CURRENT CAR? “Ron was really everybody’s mentor on the Chevrolet side back then, and you had Boris Said that took a lot of these guys and myself. Both of those guys have had moments where they’ve helped and coached. The car leans much more toward people coming in and being able to be successful on the road course just because of what it is. Our cars were much different in that particular time as far as how you had to drive them, and how you’d have to control the wheel hop – everything that went with how the car handled. It was much more specialized as far as the car in those days. Ron was always good, and did great on the ovals as well in the Truck series, and had a short stint in that. But, definitely somebody everybody looked up to, to help kind of change the course of road course racing – how you looked at it and the things that went with it. Because when I started, the road courses were just, ‘Ah, we have to go to the road courses so we’ll just find a car, find a motor. We’ll go out there, make some laps, and then go home.’ Now, it’s very technical and I think a lot of the things that go with it – many of the things that they pushed then, but it wasn’t as competitive in the early-2000’s as it was in the mid-2000’s to now. It’s another level with a lot of guys who are just very good at what they do on the road courses… and able to come in here and adapt to the car.”


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