NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
COKE ZERO 400
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
JULY 1, 2010
Kevin Harvick Wins at Daytona and Extends Points Lead; Team Chevy Drivers Capture Four of Top-Five Finishing Positions
Daytona Beach, FL - It was a wild night at Daytona but when the checkered flag flew, Kevin Harvick, No. 28 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, scored his second victory of the season and extended his lead in the standings to 212 points with eight races remaining until the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
After rain delayed the start of the scheduled 160-lap/400-mile race for approximately one hour and thirty minutes, Harvick survived nine caution flags, a multi-car wreck on lap 147 that involved 19 cars resulting in a 19-plus minute red flag and a green-white checkered finish that extended the race five laps to claim the victory. He led eight times for a total of 28 laps.
Team Chevy drivers captured four of the top-five finishing positions tonight. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet finished third and led five times for a 13-lap total. He jumped three positions in the points to second behind Harvick.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard 8 Soldiers 8 Missions/AMP Energy Chevrolet, finished fourth and now sits 11th in the Chase standings after 18 races.
The fifth place finisher was Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet. He led four times for 11 laps and remains eighth in the point standings.
Mike Bliss, No. 71 TaxSlayer.com/TRG Chevrolet, finished ninth to give Chevrolet drivers five of the top-10 spots in the final order.
Several Team Chevy drivers were caught up in the "Big One" with just 13 laps remaining in the race. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, now sits third in the standings after finishing 31st as a result of the accident.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Burger King Chevrolet, remains ninth in points after finishing 25th, also as a result of the multi-car wreck.
Mark Martin, No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, was another victim of the wreck. With a 28th place finish, he dropped to 13th in the standings, 39 points out of the Chase top-12.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet was involved in an accident on the final lap of the race while battling for the win in the lead pack. His 17th place finish actually moved him up one spot in the points order to 14th, 49 points out of the Chase battle.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet, was another victim of the major accident and was relegated to the 26th finishing position. He is 15th in the standings, just 80 points out of 12th place.
Kasey Kahne (Ford-2nd) completed the top-five finished.
The next race for the Series is July 10, 2010 at Chicagoland Speedway.
RACE WINNERS KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET, CREW CHIEF GIL MARTIN, AND RICHARD CHILDRESS, OWNER OF RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by tonight's winning driver, driver of the #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick. Tell us about your run.
KEVIN HARVICK: Obviously it was a good night. Same old Daytona, cars moving around and bouncing around, and handling came into play, and you saw a lot of passing and shuffling, and then there at the end we had the big wreck and we were fortunate to be in front of it. And really coming to the white I thought it was going to be the 33 first and us second, and then the caution came out and we could see the white flag. I was content about that. I knew those guys needed a good day, and I knew you never know what's going to happen on the last lap with people pushing and shoving from the back. But on the last restart, once the 24 pulled out and slowed those outside two lines down, that was pretty much the end of it.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by tonight's winning crew chief, Gil Martin. Gil, your thoughts about how the race unfolded tonight and your view from on top of the box.
GIL MARTIN: The good thing about it is Kevin come from the back a couple times early on in the race. We took two tires early in the race and it kind of got us behind the 8 ball because it was good for about five laps and it then it kind of wasn't any good. We got a little bit loose after that, so we knew towards the end of the race that we were going to have to get four from then on.
The lucky thing about it, we got that out of the way and didn't have to gamble with that later on. Can't say enough about ECR engines and the way all three cars ran up front. It was a good night.
Q. Kevin, you and Clint had worked so well right there before the last caution just blowing by Gordon, and y'all looked like at the latter stage of the race you were just unstoppable as a tandem. When y'all lined up from the green white checkered did you sit there beside him, thinking, hey, buddy, it's all over; one of us is going to have to go? Or was there any way you could have pulled off y'all getting back together?
KEVIN HARVICK: No, it was every man for himself at that point, just for the fact with the double file restarts and the way that it all shook out. You know the guys behind you are going to push you as hard as they can, so if I slow down to let him in or something like that, it's just going to give the other line some momentum. At that point you just hope that your line goes faster than the other line, and fortunately tonight we were in the right line on the bottom. And it wound up working out.
Q. Kevin, obviously you're still in the lead with points with this victory. How confident are you that you can unseat Jimmie Johnson this year, and how much of a goal is that for you and the other drivers?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think until somebody beats him, he's still the until we get to Homestead and that happens, he's still the guy to beat. For us we've just got to keep working hard. We're in a fortunate position with the start to our season, and we need to we've got to plan to keep working on our cars and keep trying to make things better, and hopefully when the stress starts with ten weeks to go, we'll be as ready as we've ever been from the 29 and RCR standpoint, and I think we have a good plan for that.
But you never know what's going to happen until you get in there. You've got to be on your hot streak. You've got to do everything right. You've got to minimize the DNFs, you've got to win a race or two, you've got to finish in the top 5 and do all the things that we've been doing in the Chase. You've just got to make it happen at the right time.
Q. At the end of the race there, really at any race, are the top five or six cars there, is there a lot of difference in them? Are there better cars, or is it all still just a crap shoot?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think when you get to the end of the race here, obviously I think the only car that didn't have tires tonight was the 33. Some of them had two, and four tires is the way to go. So you have a mixture of that stuff. So you have cars that are able to take pushes a little bit better and be able to keep the throttle down wide open getting into the corners.
You know, at that point you're hoping for a good push or something to happen so if you're fourth or fifth you can break through to get in the mix coming to the white flag. Tonight it didn't come down to the white flag, but usually it does, and usually it comes from a push down the back stretch.
Q. A year ago you guys were really struggling, RCR, and now this year you've turned it all around. Can you talk a little bit about what's made the difference this year, what maybe happened in the off season, and what's just different?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I don't think I would say definitely didn't happen this year. Most everything happened the middle of last year. A lot of management changes, pretty much started over on our race cars, took a different direction with the engineering and really just kind of came up with a new plan.
But Richard pulled the trigger on a lot of different things, whether it was reorganizing people, whether it was getting us the funds to build new cars. I mean, he stepped out on a huge limb to spend the money to start over with basically four teams halfway through the year, and it's paying off now for us.
So at least we got back to where we could start this year and everything has been progressing through the year, and we've been competitive every week. After last year you don't complain about anything, whether you've won one race or no races or two races now. You're happy with where things are. I think we were 27th or 28th in points after this race last year, so really excited about the turnaround. It's pretty remarkable to tell you the truth. But in the end, I think Richard is the one who pulled all the triggers to make everything happen.
Q. I have a question for both of you. For Gil, can you talk a little bit about the tires and why so many people had trouble with the tires at the start? And for Kevin, right after that 19 , 20 car wreck in 4 you came over the radio and said I don't know why Burton pulled out of line. Did that have something to do with everything that backed up behind him and just kind of triggered it?
GIL MARTIN: As far as the tires, I think a lot of that, the issues that everybody had at the beginning of the race was just due to the rain. The track was so green and the tires were just wearing in, and a lot of guys probably were over cambered in the right front, and so I think we were getting a lot of tire wear because of that.
Fortunately we were pretty conservative on that, and as the track came in I think it played into our favor.
As far as Burton getting out of line, I'll let Kevin answer that. I mean, you get a momentum run and I guess you try to seize the opportunity.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I mean, it's hard to tell. I'm sure he had such a run that he had to get out of line and had to go somewhere because sometimes you're going so fast that you don't want to hit the guy in front of you because you're scared that you're going knock the nose off your car or the back bumper off his car, and I think that's ultimately what happened; somebody hit him in the back and actually spun him sideways.
In the end, Jeff is the ultimate team player, and he's not going to be the guy that breaks up anything from an RCR standpoint. I'm sure he just had a huge run. But unfortunately I think it got tore up a little bit, but fortunately he kept going, so it all worked out for him.
THE MODERATOR: We're also now joined here tonight by tonight's winning owner, Richard Childress. Obviously a lot of good RCR cars running on the track tonight. Your thoughts on how everything unfolded?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I'm just proud of everybody at RCR for all the hard work they did to get these cars going. ECR engines were running great and just proud of them. Proud of Kevin. Kevin is becoming one of these guys that wins the restrictor plate races. He's kind of like Dale, Sr.; you knew he was going to be a factor in it. To have all three RCR cars up there leading the race, racing with each other, it was really cool to watch.
Q. For all three of you or anyone that wants to take it, as consistent as you guys have been all year, how big a deal is it to get another win with Jimmie winning the last two in a row? How big is it to get another win and stay patient with bonus points?
KEVIN HARVICK: That's all we have talked about for the last two or three weeks, what do we have to do to win more races before the Chase starts. We had this conversation Friday night. We had this conversation Wednesday afternoon at the shop. It's just something that for the 29 team it's just something that we've talked about for two or three weeks, and to be able to come out and capitalize on it tonight is what we have to do.
Q. For Kevin or Gil, you guys talked about the points lead. With just a few races left before you get to the Chase, how comfortable can you be in rolling the dice to try to pick up some more wins, balancing that with trying to keep your momentum and keep the cars running week in and week out as good as they have been?
GIL MARTIN: Well, obviously we're in a fortunate position to be where we are right now in the points lead. And as far as rolling the dice, we're going to try to do that as much as possible because we need to get to victory lane as much as we can because basically that's what Richard pays us to do. So we've got to get there. But at the same token we've got to get there smart and make sure that we're not only consistent but we have some speed, but luckily we're going to be able to take some chances possibly that we haven't been able to take in the past. Like Kevin said, we're going to be in a situation where we're going to have a fleet of cars that's ready to go to the Chase, not one that we're just barely able to get there. That's what we're looking forward to more than anything.
Q. For Kevin, this goes back to what you were talking about, about the change around. How important is it to be in a situation in this race where you have teammates that are running with you up front? I think Jeff Gordon showed that you can have a fast car, but without anybody else there, a teammate, he wasn't able to stay out there very long.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I really felt over those last 20 laps I didn't think they could beat us nose to tail with myself and the 33, and I really thought, like I said, coming to the white, I really thought that was how we were going to finish.
But we worked really well together tonight. Everybody is getting along really well. I know we all have our moments where we get mad at each other, but I think we were all on the same page tonight and really working well together, and I think it showed up on the racetrack with the results that were about to happen coming to the white flag, and we were fortunate to get into the victory lane. But all the cars ran really well tonight, and from a team standpoint that's all you can really ask for.
Q. Two parter first for you, Kevin. How much in this whole turnaround, in the performance and winning and being back on top, how much did getting all that contract junk out of the way play into that? And for any of you guys, it almost seems like this track, this is the last race on this old pavement, and we're all talking about the new pavement. It's almost like this is some kind of mystical thing thumbing its nose at you as wild as this thing was tonight, the last race on this pavement.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I think as far as the contract stuff, that stuff all started the end of last year and really took off at the beginning of the year before we even got started. I felt like I'm sure Richard feels the same way. I felt like we handled it amongst ourselves and there was really a lot of progress as we moved month to month. It just took time to get it all done.
I really think as we went into the year, everybody was headed in the same direction and knew what we wanted to do. But it just took time, and it really other than answering the questions, it really didn't affect us internally. Gil does a great job with the guys in the shop and making sure that they are motivated, and nobody we never talked about it from a team standpoint. Nobody ever said a word.
As far as thumbing the nose, I think this racetrack is obviously the most historic racetrack that we race on, and I think if that asphalt could talk, you can go back and look at all the stories. But it's just such a neat deal to be able to win the last race on that particular asphalt. It's going to be a lot different race when we come back.
Any time you can win, though, whether it's new asphalt or old asphalt, it's always going to be the baddest place to win, and that's Daytona.
Q. For Kevin and also Gil, if you might want to chime in, you talk about you've had these conversations about what it takes to win. And I'm just wondering how in this situation that you're in, how much how challenging is that? I'm sure it's one thing to say, okay, we want to win, but how do you go about doing that? And how is that thinking process different than, say, last year when winning wasn't the concern, it was just trying to be competitive? How do you try to force yourself or think of new things and be willing to take risks or things like that?
GIL MARTIN: Well, I think one of the biggest ways that we've been challenged is two years ago we were in the Chase, had all three cars in, and we were third, fourth, fifth, or wherever we were at. And I think we were trying to hit a home run to win the championship. And I think that we've learned from that mistake, that we've got to keep chiseling away every week. You get a little bit every week with these cars because the guys that you're racing against, you're racing against the best guys in the world, obviously. To race with the 48 every week and to get to the level to where they've been, they're not looking for home runs every week, they're looking to refine their product every week, and I think that's what we've done a really good job throughout the whole company this year is we've taken a product, refined it, and by the time we get to the Chase, hopefully it will be.
Last year we might have a car that we'd have to run two or three races, go home, turn it around and work really hard on that to now we've got Richard's afforded us to have a fleet of cars that we've got probably seven or eight downforce cars right now. He probably doesn't want to hear me say we've got that many, but we've got that many cars that are capable of winning races every week to know if we have a problem on Friday or Saturday, the one in the truck is just as good if not better than the one we unloaded on Friday.
Q. How does that change what you can do or don't do on the track?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think from the confidence level, the way you race now is you race knowing that you have a chance to win with your equipment every week. Obviously last year we were in a little bit of a slump and really trying to figure out the direction that we needed to go to to make the cars better. But we've all won. We all know how to win. It's just a matter of getting the stuff right, putting it on the racetrack so it's competitive enough to be in contention to win, and that's what we've done this year.
The mindset is so different. It's not even comparable, just because you know that every time you go on the racetrack you have a shot.
Q. Primarily for Richard, you just made the comparison about Kevin reminding you of Dale, Sr., and how he's been racing at Daytona, and of course you won last night with Dale, Jr., in the 3 car. What does a weekend like this mean to you as an owner, not just from your future with Kevin and what happened with Dale, Jr., but looking back on the history of this track that you had with Dale, Sr.?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, Daytona is really special, and like Kevin said, any time you win at Daytona it's really special. Fortunate to have won a lot of races with Dale here, won one 500 with him in '98, come back and win with Kevin in 2007. You know, it was real special.
And last night was a special deal put together through JR Motorsports and Kelly, and my involvements with being with the 3 and being in there and going and meeting with them and talking and putting that deal together was special. And to see him win the race was real special to see the 3 on the board. It brought back a lot of memories, not only to me but to all the race fans. Had all kind of texts and messages and everything from people how proud they were to see it back out there racing.
Comparing Kevin, you just watch how he runs these speedway races, he has that knack of knowing how to run on these speedway races.
KEVIN HARVICK: The coolest part last night was the reaction from Tony, Jr., on the pit box. I don't know if you've seen it, but that was the best part for me.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It was an emotional deal for a lot of people. I know a lot of people called in and texted and stuff about how emotional it was.
Q. For Richard, after the last crash you had said something on the radio that you were wondering if the white flag had come out before the caution. Did you think at some point that Clint had won that race?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: No, I just said, why didn't it come out is what I said, was why didn't the white come out at the end. NASCAR made the call that they made, and it ended up one of the RCR cars won the race.
KEVIN HARVICK: It was out. I could see the white flag, we just never got to it.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: That's what it was, it was just one of those deals. I feel bad for Clint and all these guys, but at the end of the day, can't but one of those guys win, and here we are tonight. I'm just glad the way all three of them ran that we were able to come out of there with a win.
Q. Richard, just on that with Clint, is there anything that you can say? To fall from 1st to 17th, he's still in a tight battle to get into the Chase. There was a lot of points lost tonight. Whether that affects him come September or not we'll find out. But is there much you can say or have you had a chance to say anything to Clint?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: No, I haven't. I haven't talked to him. I'll talk to him later, probably wait until tomorrow, let things kind of cool off a little bit.
I don't know if the 24 got into his tire back there or what happened, but I know he was not happy with the 24 at that point.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations, and thank you for your time.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET – Finished 3rd
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: We're joined here tonight by tonight's third place finisher, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, Jeff Gordon. Tell us about your run.
JEFF GORDON: Man, I'm just happy to survive one of these restrictor plate races. It's been a while since we've done that. We had a pretty good night, car drove good, especially on the long runs, and we avoided the big ones and got ourselves in a good position to win the race. Got out in front, and I felt like I had a pretty good handle I liked being up front while those two guys were lined up; we were good.
But once they split down, one and two, they kind of faded, and I didn't know I thought they were passing one another, and instead they lined back up and I was just a sitting duck. At that point it was just about the restart, and got a good restart, was pushing Clint, and I don't know what happened. It just seemed like he was riding the brakes, and we weren't going anywhere. So I went to pass him, and that kind of just messed up our momentum to really have a shot at winning, so we're pretty happy to finish third.
Q. Jeff, if you could describe your last two laps there, too.
JEFF GORDON: I was pushing the 33. I mean, we got a great start, and I gave him a big shove, and I think maybe he was afraid that he got too big of a shove or something and it seemed like he let off the gas or got on the brakes. I hit him again, and you know, again, until I talk to Clint and try to find out what happened but these cars got a lot of drag in them with the spoilers, so maybe it was just the car was just dragging down that much when I was trying to push him.
But I felt like that last time I was coming up on him too fast and I needed to go. So I went to the outside of him. I think when I went to the outside of him, the 29 and the 9 pretty much cruised right on by, and then it was just trying to get the momentum back down the back straightaway.
The 31 pretty much got by me, but I was able to get to his quarterpanel and get right back by him and finish third.
Q. With all the crazy stuff out there, how relieved do you guys feel to get out of here with top threes?
JEFF GORDON: We've been in so many of those wrecks here recently on restrictor plates that our good stats that we've always had on the restrictor plates have been going down fast. So this was a nice way to rebound.
Yeah, you know, the 18 and 42 got together right in front of me. I just avoided that one. The other one, I don't even know how I avoided it, the one where Burton was a pinball and they were all wrecking. I just dove to the apron and just did a big slide. I don't know how we didn't have more damage. But we were one of the few cars that made it through there. And then the rest of them were in my mirror, like Kasey was saying.
Q. For Jeff, you move into second place. What does this do with the time, the races ticking down right before the Chase?
JEFF GORDON: I'm second? Really? I don't believe it.
Q. That's what they said up here. We don't have the points or anything up here.
JEFF GORDON: Well, I mean, I'm excited that we're second in points, but I'll be honest with you, all I look at is where we are with wins right now. When you're positioned well in the Chase, like we are currently, then it comes down to wins and being seeded for when that Chase comes around.
I think these top fives that we've had here recently build momentum to get us an opportunity to get us those wins. So that's really more what's on our mind right now. It's about what we've got to do to win a championship. I feel like we've got to get a few wins before that Chase starts.
But you know, it certainly helps when you're further up in the points because it gives you that opportunity to take more chances and try more things to make sure that you either get those bonus points or that you're the car to beat when the Chase comes around.
Q. Jeff, you've been a part of a lot of wild races, but where does this one rank in terms of restrictor plate craziness?
JEFF GORDON: I'll be honest with you, I'm starting to get used to the fact that every race we go to is basically bumper cars at 190 miles an hour. You know, my favorite part of the race to be honest was the first half when we were spread out, and while it might not be as exciting for the fans, it's awesome as a driver to be out there knowing you're making a difference in how you drive the car, the team is making a difference how they set up the car. The pit stops under green, to me that was just a blast out there racing in those long runs, managing tires, all that stuff. That's what I love about the older surface.
But, you know, when it comes down to the end, you pretty much know that it's not going to end like that, that you're going to have cautions and double file restarts, and it's just hold on tight.
For me, honestly, tonight, other than after I made Clint Bowyer mad, which what's new, I'm making a lot of guys mad these days, but he ran into the back of me so hard down the back straightaway because I know he's mad at me, plus I know he's trying to get us going. Other than that it was a pretty uneventful green white checkered compared to some others I've seen. I'm sure that's not quite the case for guys that were behind me.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you, and congratulations.