😊“@jimmyswan2: @KurtBusch hope you smash all them big teams this wknd never seen the 78 car run so fast what a difference a driver can make”
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Kevin, you’re two for two. You would like for it to be three for three come Sunday evening. Talk about this racecar as you get primed up trying to win that 500 again.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, obviously it’s been a great start to Speedweeks obviously with the Unlimited. To get our first win with Budweiser onboard for the first time in the Duels is really cool.
Guys have just done a great job. Obviously everybody thought we would qualify a little bit better, but we felt really good about our car yesterday after practice and felt like we could make some moves.
You have to be precise with this car. Obviously at the beginning of the race, got ourselves stuck in the middle trying to make something happen. Hadn’t been in that particular position before to see what was going to happen. Didn’t have a lot of help. Just one car in front of us. Kind of fell to the back.
They got single file. I think there were four or five cars started coming on the bottom. I thought we needed to at least try to make something happen. We were able to side draft and break them up one or two at a time.
I think that’s only going to get better as you get all the cars in the pack. Hopefully on Sunday we’ll be able to be right back here.
Q: Gil Martin, talk about some of the changes you made on the racecar since you first started practicing last week.
GIL MARTIN: Really, we haven’t made any changes from how we raced Unlimited Saturday night. The weather was a little bit warmer, we didn’t have quite as much tape on the grill as we did Saturday. As far as everything else with the car, the same way.
The way the pit stops worked out, we just had to be out front like we were the other night. Once we were out there, he was able to do what he does best.
Q. Some of the other drivers came in here and talked about the importance of staying in line. Did you observe anything about the importance of staying in line?
KEVIN HARVICK: Oh, yeah. At the beginning of the race we got back to, I don’t know, 12th or 13th there, after we tried to go through the middle, maybe a little further back than that. We were the last car in that particular line. Until the next group caught us, we weren’t able to make many moves.
But the good thing about today compared to the other night is that bottom, once you get four or five cars, it can seem to make some ground on the cars on the top, even if they’re lined up. As that pack gets bigger, I think that’s going to get even better.
If you find a slot to fill into the line, you feel like your momentum has stalled in whatever line you’re in, you need to get into that slot or you’re going to go all the way to the back of it.
Q. Kevin, you talk about hopefully three for three this week. Most years it seems like somebody comes down here, wins the Shootout, wins a qualifying race. When you get multiple victories, you become the favorite. Are you feeling like the guy to beat now?
KEVIN HARVICK: We like to be the lame duck underdog. That’s what we’re shooting for (smiling).
You know, it’s one of those deals where you want to win. We’ve been fortunate to win the first two races of Speedweeks. We just got to keep a level head on our shoulders, not get too high over what we’ve done, just do the same things that we’ve done. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.
I think we definitely have the car and team to be in contention to do that.
Q. Montoya and Biffle were talking about there’s an effect where it seems like if they run up behind a car, get on the bumper, it’s like their car almost stalls and gets pushed back. Have you seen that? Do you think that is something you can work with out front?
KEVIN HARVICK: Like I told you guys the other night, it’s just like it was 10 years ago. It really is. It’s the same way we used to race with the old style cars, no roof fins, nothing on top of them. It’s the same style race. Handling even is coming into effect as we’ve seen in practice and the race today.
I know Montoya wasn’t around for that and Biffle might not have been. But it’s just like that, it’s the same style of racing.
Q. You’ve been in front at the end in these two races. Is there anything to be learned on your part from playing defense, if you will, if you find yourself in that position on Sunday night?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, for sure. I mean, you know, today both lines were side-by-side and you were able to kind of feed each line a little bit of air and try to keep ‘em even. That’s the best way to keep ‘em at bay is keep ‘em side-by-side.
The other night those guys got a big run, and blocking came into play. We were able to be fortunate enough to pull that block off and not get wrecked.
You know, it’s two different endings, but I think for us, I want to be in the front and be in control of what’s going on. If we can get to that point and be able to dictate whether you need to block, move up, move down, side draft. You have options as the leader. That’s the position I want to be in.
Q. Has fatherhood made you mellower or changed your outlook on life? Gil, you’ve been through some ups and downs with Kevin. Speak to that as well.
KEVIN HARVICK: I’ve told several people this. It’s added a new balance to my life where I can still come to the racetrack and I feel like I’m more relaxed and more focused, which is good for me. I don’t get as wound up on things when they happen, whether it’s in the car, outside the car.
When you’ve had a bad day, you’re frustrated, you’re right to the point where you can say something stupid, you go back to the motorhome, you see that smiling face, it lets you get your mind off of things.
It’s added a great balance to my life. I think it’s made me better.
GIL MARTIN: Yeah, I’ll have to agree with that. At the racetrack, his focus is still there. As he leaves the racetrack, with having his son to go back to, you don’t have to go in and look for some excitement outside of the track, it’s already there waiting on him.
I think with that being in his life now, it’s going to do nothing but help him and direct his focus on Sunday. I’m looking forward to watching what happens.
Q. You mentioned the lame duck thing. Can you talk about what these two finishes and these two races kind of show the focus of your team being in this situation? What does that say about the team and about the season?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think as we approached the end of last year, obviously with Gil, the consistency of the guys, over the winter they knew exactly what they were going to do. Everybody was focused on building racecars. There wasn’t really any drama. The drama was over once Richard and I talked about everything that was going to happen at the end of this year. The emotional side of it was gone. Everything was pretty much done.
We both agreed to put all the effort in. From an RCR standpoint, they’re putting all the effort they can into it. I’m going to put all I can into it. Gil and these guys, they don’t care, they just want to win races. They’re going to work on the car whether it’s a guy that’s going to be here for tomorrow or for 20 years, their job is the same.
A lot of responsibility to be professionals and do our jobs, and we have a lot of pride, too. Pride is key in this whole situation as to how we perform.
Q. We had another wreck today of the sort of side-by-side variety. What is your view on what’s causing those? Are you concerned about that for Sunday?
KEVIN HARVICK: You know, we’ve been fortunate to have a pretty good-handling racecar. My car definitely got looser today. But I haven’t seen the one in the race yet. I saw the one with the 39 in practice. I heard a lot of guys talk about their cars being loose in the Unlimited. We never experienced any of that. I think it’s a matter of how you came down here with the balance of your racecar.
Gil and I talked about what we thought we needed coming down here after the test, went a particular direction. It’s worked out for us.
I’ll have to go back and watch the one in the race. I can’t answer that one.
Q. You come from Bakersfield. Talk to me about what it was like in Bakersfield. Do you ever hear from folks from back home?
KEVIN HARVICK: Oh, yeah, I still have a lot of friends in Bakersfield. My whole family still lives there. We go back frequently to visit. We do a lot of foundation work, go and do a lot of things with my old high school for the last several years. So we do a lot in the town.
I was fortunate to grow up in California, but in a racing town. There wasn’t too many of those in California. So Bakersfield is supported from drag racing to go-kart racing to oval track racing, dirt and asphalt. It was a great place to grow up.
Q. Gil, as far as from the testing, can you explain to fans what you’ve learned to the actual conditions of a race like today?
GIL MARTIN: Well, from testing obviously we did a lot of single-car runs. There wasn’t a tremendous amount we could learn from the testing as far as drafting goes.
But fortunately I was around when Kevin was talking about 10 years ago, we kind of knew what those cars needed. That hasn’t changed a great deal as far as the setups on the car. I was a little bit surprised by that, that the setups we run a while back are still working now. Hopefully they’ll continue to work one more day.
Q. Kevin, can you talk about how this car drove today compared to the Shootout car since you’ve had practice, adjustments? Was the comfort level higher in this car than it was when you won the other night?
KEVIN HARVICK: No. The comfort level was definitely not as high, just for the fact that the car was just up on top of the racetrack a little more on the exits of the corner. But very manageable. You had to pay attention to controlling your racecar than trying to make a move. You had to concentrate on both instead.
Q. You ran 60 laps today. Sunday is going to be about the best weather we’ve seen throughout the whole week. Is there any compensation you’re going to have to make when you run that many laps if the track gets a little hot?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I think the weather’s going to be maybe a couple degrees hotter, but not a whole lot as we go into the weekend. That will at least make some easy decisions for us as we go into the weekend as far as handling goes and what we need to do.
But, you know, I think as you get into a long race like that, obviously you only had one pit stop today, you’re going to have multiple pit stops and you’re going to have to change fours tires at some particular point. You’re going to see the field get mixed up because people are going to be on varying strategies, for sure.
Q. Kevin, it was kind of follow the leader there for the first 35 laps, nothing happened, then you made a move and a lot started happening. What happened there on lap 36 to cause you to all of a sudden decide that was the time to go?
KEVIN HARVICK: We felt like the 99 and whoever was behind him, we felt like they were making some ground. We didn’t come here to run 10th or 12th, wherever we were running. We wanted to try to make something happen.
We felt like we probably could have made something happen before that if we had a car behind us to fill in those gaps in front of us. Those guys were making up ground on the bottom. Everybody seemed content on the top. We slid down in front of the 99, started side drafting. Those guys were side drafting. Next thing you know, we had four or five of them pulled apart and were making some headway.
We drove pretty much all the way to the front and kind of changed the complexion of the race at that particular point.
Q. That pit stop that you made with Trevor right behind you, were you trying to squeeze him to the outside? He got off into the grass.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I looked up right before the yellow line and thought, you know, he had fallen into line. Next thing I know, I’d shoved him in the grass. Just the way it worked out.