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Interview With Kevin Harvick, Winner of The Richmond NASCAR Cup Race

Kevin, this is your first victory of 2013 and 20th victory in 439 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.  Talk a little bit about those last few laps out there tonight.

KEVIN HARVICK:  Yeah, you know, Gil will tell you the same thing, we’ve been on the wrong side of those decisions a few times this year.  To be sitting there seventh on four tires and the only other guy on four tires sitting on the outside, felt like if I could get by the row in front of me and felt like the guys on no tires were sitting ducks.

It all worked out.  We were fortunate to have it all line up.  I drove it in there, hoped for the best.  Figured 4, 8, 12, whatever was on the outside tire-wise would be plenty to lean on and by the time we got to the backstretch, everything had cleared out.

Q:  Gil, talk about the exciting race from your standpoint of the.

GIL MARTIN:  I was kind of surprised how tight we were starting the race.  We probably made more adjustments tonight on the car than we’ve made in any race in a couple years.

But it was right when it needed to be.  I mean, for those of you that have been around here for a long time, that restart by him, that was vintage Kevin Harvick.  That was a really, really good restart right there.  That was exciting to watch.

Q:  Also joining us is car owner, Richard Childress.  Tell us a little bit about your thoughts about sitting up here with this win tonight.

RICHARD CHILDRESS:  Like I heard Kevin said earlier, we’ve been there all year long.  We’ve had fast cars, but seemed like something didn’t go our way.  But tonight it did.

Like Gil said, that was vintage Kevin Harvick.  When they dropped that green, he found the hole, drove it through there, made it happen.  Won the race.  I think everyone, even the 29 team, was probably pulling for Burton.  At the end of the night, when he got up there, we were all pulling for Kevin and Jeff to be right there with him.

It was a good night for RCR.

Q.  Kevin, before the caution came out, you were creeping in on Montoya’s lead.  Do you think if it stayed green you would have been able to get him?

KEVIN HARVICK:  I don’t think so.  My car had lost drive up off the corner.  I think one thing that led to being so confident in my car on that last restart was our car had been really good on restarts for four or five laps, which is kind of what we lacked last night.  Tonight, the car would turn, do all the things I wanted it to.  I could be really aggressive with it on the restarts.

I think I had a better shot to win starting seventh.  I don’t think I was going to catch Montoya because he had a little bit better drive up off the corner at that point.

 

Q.  Gil, what about you?  As you watched those laps running down before the caution, did you think you had any chance at the victory?

GIL MARTIN:  Well, I mean, before that last caution came out, we were able to get to the 42.  But the laps were kind of leveling out.  Tonight was kind of a weird deal for Richmond.  Seemed like the cars were getting an aero push.  Within five car lengths of anybody, seems like the advantage you had went away or diminished as soon as you got close to them, then you would have to stay on them for several laps.  The laps were winding down so fast, Montoya was going to have to make a mistake for us to get by him at that point.

 

Q.  How big is this win for you looking at the psyche of you and the team?

KEVIN HARVICK:  We’ve had speed and we were frustrated.  I think all of us were frustrated, not just myself and Gil, but I think everybody on our team.  You can talk till you’re blue in the face that your car is running good. People like you guys look at the results on Monday and the points, and they weren’t where we thought we should be.  I think a win goes a long ways.

We have a really busy testing schedule.  We haven’t really tested at any of the racetracks that we’ve run at yet.  So we have a busy schedule.  Winning a race, all the things that come with tonight, will lead towards guys not being as aggravated to go test and do the things that we have to go do here over the next month.

 

Q.  (No microphone.)

GIL MARTIN:  The frustration is there.  When you have a fast car, we’ve come down to the end of the races to where it seems like we had cars that could run in the top 5, easily in the top 10.  Some of the decisions I’ve made at the end of the race thinking it was going to be the right one, this has been one of the most difficult years for making decisions.

If a final caution comes out in the last 10 or 15 laps, you’re within sixth to 12th place, it’s no man’s land because there’s so many cars on the lead lap now.  There’s 30 cars on the lead lap.  You’re sitting there eighth.  If you pit, a lot don’t pit, you lose track position.  Then there’s the tire advantage.  We’ve been on the wrong end of that.  We have to be more aggressive on that.  Tonight we were.  It paid off for us.

KEVIN HARVICK:  We’ve been through a lot.  I can sense when he’s frustrated.  He knows when I’m frustrated. It’s not something that you take personal.  Even on the weekends, you’re frustrated.  By the time you get to Monday, he’s working in the shop, you know, you just got to let it go.  There’s nothing you can do about it at that point, so you got to try to make the best out of it for the next week.

 

Q.  Kevin, at the start of the season you said despite the fact you’d be leaving at the end of the year not to count you guys out.  You talk about your relationship and everything, how you guys have kept it together.  Is this a sign you’ll be able to do that till the end of the season?

KEVIN HARVICK:  Outside of the results, I feel like we’ve done that every week.  I feel like our cars have performed well.  I feel like we’re getting better with some things coming down the road.

It doesn’t feel like it’s any different than any other year has been, other than you know at the end of the year everybody knows what’s going on.  In the end, we all have big egos and we want to be competitive and we want to win races and do the things that it takes to go out there and fulfill that feel that you like, whether it’s in Victory Lane.

You know how much work that everybody puts in.  There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with a lot of things to the sponsors and the people and the organization.  It takes too much work to be mad because at this point you’re racing week in, week out, you’re testing, trying to relay the information.  They’re trying to go through everything to make you better.

It’s just a lot of work.  I know everybody makes a big deal out of what you’re going to do next year.  But, man, next year is so far away right now that you’re week-to-week.  What are we working on this week?  What track are we going to?  What do we do to make it better?  You try to do that week after week.  You lose track of time.  You lose track of everything that’s going on because you’re so buried in what we do on a week-to-week basis.

 

Q.  Kevin, even though you had fresh tires, there was probably a hundred different things that could have happened the last couple of laps.  Did you feel like you had to get to the front in those first couple of turns if you were going to get to the front?

KEVIN HARVICK:  We had 99 of those things go wrong in eight weeks.  We got one right this week (smiling).

But, I mean, everybody was going to be aggressive at that point because nobody really knew – you knew, what, three cars up front that didn’t pit, right?  So you had three cars that were going to be pretty much in the way compared to the guys on tires.  So you didn’t know if it was going to be one green-white-checkered, two green-white-checkereds.  You had to go and be as aggressive as you thought you could be without taking yourself out of the race.

Fortunately we were able to have it all line up for us tonight.  So you just kind of have a plan in your mind and try to play it out.

 

Q.  Richard, you mentioned how everybody was probably pulling for Jeff coming up to that last green-white-checkered.  Considering how that team has struggled, how important is a finish like tonight for them moving forward?

RICHARD CHILDRESS:  Well, it was big.  They really struggled the last little bit.  Being in a position just to win a race, knowing you were kind of a sitting duck.  But if he could have held off and got the white flag, caution came out, he could have won the race.

We knew the guys with new tires were really going to be coming.  I’m just glad one of our cars won.

 

Q.  Clint and Joey earlier were talking about the Gen-6, how it’s been fun to race again.  Do you feel like it’s put more in the driver’s lap, make it more fun for you to drive a car again as opposed to a few years ago?

KEVIN HARVICK:  They’re definitely not edgy like the cars used to be.  You have enough downforce on the car where you can manipulate the car with the brake or the throttle.  If you’re manipulating it with the brake like you do here, you can slide the car in the corner, modulate the brake to get the car coming up off the corner.  There’s still a lot of unknowns.

That’s what makes it fun.  We call it a delta to change a car from practice to the race, to the adjustments we think we need.  We applied those tonight.

We were not as close as we would have wanted to be.  So we know coming back, everybody will get better when they’re coming back, because it looked like everybody was fighting a lot of the same problems.

It’s interesting.  It’s fun.  When you have enough downforce on the car, you can be ultra-aggressive with it and do things like we did tonight on the restart and not worry about the car spinning out and wrecking somebody when you’re underneath another car.

 

Q.  Do you think the racing is better this year?

KEVIN HARVICK:  I think in a lot of places it’s been a lot better.  You can be aggressive with the cars.  Last year the spoiler was shortened, it’s hard to be aggressive with those cars because they’re so edgy, you don’t have a lots of confidence in racing side-by-side.  I feel like I can drive my car in 10 miles deep, do what I have to do on the inside of other car, not worry about spinning out and wrecking.

I think there’s still a few things here and there, whether it be the superspeedways that everybody wants to see how the racing is at Talladega next week, you know, compared to how it was at Daytona.  There’s still some unanswered questions.  But I think all in all, it’s been a huge success so far.

So that’s good.

 

Q.  Richard, in all the years that I’ve watched you, winning a championship has always been your number one desire.  At the start of this year as we headed into Daytona, it looked, despite everything that everybody knows, that you felt especially good with this team.  Do you still see that capability?  Do you see more than we see?

KEVIN HARVICK:  Are you saying we don’t have a chance?

 

Q.  No.  I asked him what he’s thinking.

RICHARD CHILDRESS:  No, it’s a good question.

Starting the year off, we made a lot of changes at RCR.  We’re rolling for the win.  Hired a lot of really good people, smart people.

I think we got a great shot of winning that championship this year.  We just got to be there at the end of the day.  They’re not easy to win, championships aren’t.  But that’s the one thing I want to accomplish.  This could be the year.

I think we got everyone working in the right direction.  Hopefully we’ll be in Vegas smiling big.

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Posted by on April 28, 2013. Filed under Breaking News,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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