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Transcript Kevin Harvick Playoffs

Ford Performance MENCS Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Playoff Media Day - NASCAR Hall of Fame
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

KEVIN HARVICK PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

KEVIN HARVICK - #4 Jimmy John's Ford Fusion - WHAT'S THE IMPACT ON YOU FOR THE PLAYOFFS WITH ALL THE NEWS GOING ON AT SHR? IS IT A DISTRACTION? "I don't think so. I think those are pretty much standard procedure things that are gonna happen. There's going to be changes and it's not just our organization that has changes. Things change and you have to be a part of those and work through those things because that's really a part of business and it's a part of sports. I think there's obviously been a lot going on behind the scenes and you can just see the end result of it yesterday."

YOU AND KURT SEEMED TO PICK UP YOUR PERFORMANCE OF LATE. WHAT DO YO HAVE TO DO TO GET TO HOMESTEAD AS FAR AS POWER AND CONSISTENCY? "I think the biggest thing at this particular point is just dotting all your I's and crossing all your T's, which our team can do. Kurt's had some good runs lately, which gives us a lot to look at with the things that they've done over the last few weeks. We've been kind of hit or miss as far as the things we've been doing, so we know that we have to be consistent, get the most out of our weekends, score stage points and do those types of things to just try to put yourself into position. This is really all about survival. We've had the fastest car and been expected to win and been in trouble in the first round, second round, third round. We've won. We've lost at Homestead, so there's a lot to balance and it's really a week to week battle at this particular point because that's just what it is. Obviously, this year is a little bit different because of the point structure, and I think everybody is interested to see how all of that is received by the fans and the competitors when we get done with Homestead. It's a lot to balance, but, really, right now it's a week to week battle and whether you're running good or not running good, you have to get the most out of your day. Chicago the last two years hasn't been a good start for us just because of self-inflicted circumstances and those are the types of things you don't want to do this time around. So we've learned a lot and I think everybody has done a really good job of getting everything transitioned over. We've put two cars in the Playoffs and now we can go out and fight every week to get everything we can and see where it falls in the end."

DO YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR CHANCES AND WOULD IT MEAN ANYTHING MORE TO WIN A TITLE FOR FORD SINCE YOU JUST JOINED THEM AND THEY HAVEN'T WON ONE SINCE 2004? "Well, I think that's a big reason why Ford is a part of Stewart-Haas Racing and shows their commitment to wanting to win a championship. I think for us it's been a lot to take on, but I think we're more settled now than we were two months ago. And I think as you go into the Playoffs here I think you know that we still have stuff that's going to come and going to be built and it's just a matter of if you can get it done fast enough and how much it actually is, so you don't really know until you get it on the race track, and most of the things that are in the pipeline haven't been on the race track yet, so you have to just go out and scrimp and scrap and scrape every week to get every point that you can. So I think we did that all year and there are some weeks that could have been better and some weeks that could have been a lot worse and it all kind of has a way of evening itself out as you go through the whole season. The first goal was to perform well and get yourself into the Playoffs and now the second goal is to try to put yourself in position to race for a championship when you get to Homestead."

ARE YOU SURPRISED DANICA COULDN'T GET A SPONSOR OR DOES IT JUST COME DOWN TO PERFORMANCE? "Danica has been a huge part of this sport and turned a lot of people on to racing that might not have otherwise been turned on to racing. The impact and the footprint that she has brought to our sport is big. On the other side of that, you have the performance side of things that at some point measures into everybody's sponsorship. I read the statement from Smithfield yesterday and obviously it sounds like that's the reason why they're leaving Richard Petty Motorsports is because they feel like the program is working for them off the race track and they want to run better on the track. So I hope that Danica gets a sponsor because she's an important part of our sport. I read Tony's comments from his Facebook page this morning and that transition from Indy Car to NASCAR, we've seen so many times people struggle and she's had a lot of very good moments. Sometimes, you look at Joey Logano, he went from Joe Gibbs Racing to Penske and became an immediate championship contender just by getting in a different situation. So that's what you hope for in this particular situation is that Danica can find a team and a sponsor that fits her situation better than the situation that has fit in the past. It's not like anybody doesn't get along, but the circumstances haven't been 100 percent right to get the most out of the performance needed to keep those partners around and do the things that it takes to be competitive."

HOW DOES IT AFFECT THE SPORT AND THOSE FAN BASES IF DANICA DOESN'T RACE NEXT YEAR, ESPECIALLY WITH DALE JR. RETIRING AFTER THE SEASON? "I think obviously you want to see the best-case scenario surround the sport, but I can tell you being in the position that I was in in 2001 with Dale Earnhardt that if something was going to be catastrophic for the sport at that particular point, it could have been catastrophic in a lot of different ways. It already was catastrophic, and it went through a big transition of what do the Earnhardt fans do? What do they think about the sport? And I don't think this scenario is as big as that scenario, obviously. Sports in general has a funny way of absorbing everything and moving on. And whether it's Dale Jr. or Danica or myself, no matter what the case is things move and they shuffle and people come and they go and you hope that as you look in the pipeline there are young and exciting drivers that are going to develop their own personalities and their own fan base and their own excitement and their own situations, and it'll build itself back up. So I think Danica is an important piece. Obviously, we know where Dale is headed and he's gonna continue to be a part of this sport, but I think it would be a plus if she was still racing cars on the weekends."

YOU WERE FRUSTRATED AFTER RICHMOND. DOES THAT DRIVE YOU? "I think we've been good enough in a lot of weeks and at a lot of places. I think as you look at Richmond, that's probably been our worst race track that we go to, so it's a little bit frustrating just to drive in the gate because you know it could be a good weekend, it might not be a good weekend, and it's just one of those places that has become that way for us. Yeah, I was frustrated and not happy with the way we performed, but when I got to the office on Monday neither was anybody else, so you want to be frustrated and not settle for things being OK. I think as you look at everything we're doing, everybody is doing everything that they can and the improvements and things that have gone into the cars have been good and now we just have to go out and race."

WHAT IS YOUR GUT FEELING ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT THOSE PLAYOFF POINTS ARE GOING TO BE FOR THOSE TOP THREE GUYS? "I think as you look at the points I think in the first round I don't think you're going to notice it as much. I think it's when you see those points start to roll in the second and third rounds and how they affect everything is going to be much more noticeable. My only concern in the whole thing is what people think about it. Are the Playoff the Playoffs when everything is not the same for everybody? Don't get me wrong, I like how it looked on paper and we just haven't seen it play out yet and that's the biggest thing."

WHAT ASSURANCES ARE YOU GETTING FROM NASCAR THAT SOME OF THE ISSUES WE'VE SEEN WILL BE CLEARED UP BY THE TIME WE GET TO HOMESTEAD? "I think as you look at the ambulance issue, the ambulances, for whatever reason this year, have been a little more of an issue as far as getting to the accident, getting back from the accident, getting lost in many circumstances going back to the infield care center. The ambulances in three and four, I would assume there were ambulances in one and two and the wreck being in one and two, so obviously there are some things they have to work through from the NASCAR side of things to clean those things up. We heard Steve O'Donnell talk about and owning up to we need to fix this and make it better and that's the most important thing. I like the way that they approached it and usually when you hear and approach that's head-on you know that those types of things are being addressed because when people don't want to address something, they have a funny way of dodging the questions and dodging the situation and trying to throw dirt on it and bury it and come back to it later. So the fact that everybody was just like, 'Look, we had some issues. We have to move forward and fix these things,' and you can't just move on. You have to move on, but you can't just move on. You have to address the problem, so, to me, that's the sign of immediate reaction and it sounds like that's the direction that they're heading."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR SITUATION AT VEGAS WAS ADDRESSED WITH THE SLOWNESS OF THE AMBULANCE? "It took a while. And look, I think everybody is going a great job when they get to the cars, but we still have some issues of getting the ambulances and things from several drivers to the infield care center without getting lost. And that's been an issue for not only myself, twice, but several other drivers as they've had their trips to the infield care center. Getting the ambulance, and I know that's a constant work in progress, the chase truck and the ambulance to the accident scene as soon as possible when you know it's a major impact is important, and I know they are continuously working to try to make that better, but the ambulances need to know where they're going, and I don't know if that's coming from the ambulances and their preparation, or if it's coming from - like last week, it sounds like the ambulances were released and then stopped and just wound up stopping in the wrong spot, but we've got to eliminate those types of things."

HOW DO YOU BREAK DOWN THE LAST 10 RACES? "I've been fortunate to be on the side of going into the first week and thinking you're gonna win the championship and I've learned that's how you think every year, but the one thing about it that I have learned is you better think about it one week at a time and not break down anything until you get there because you might be broke down before you even make it to the end. So it's a one week at a time battle and the most important thing to do at this particular time of the season is control yourself from a mental capacity and trying to keep yourself prepared going into each week because you don't know what you're going to have to approach next week until you get done with this week. Even if you're running good or you're running bad, it's a one week at a time and survive mentality until you go as far as you can."

JIMMIE JOHNSON HASN'T LED A LAP IN NINE WEEKS. IS HE GOING TO BE A CONTENDER FOR THIS TITLE? "I don't think you can ever count him out. I think as you look at it, obviously the performance hasn't been what they want or what they need, but you almost have to laugh because you look at it and you would have said the same thing last year. When I clicked on to go through this week's race from last year and the guys that were running first and second with the 48 and the 24 and you hadn't seen them all summer and there they are."

HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN? "Well, look, sometimes you get behind and you physically can't prepare vehicles and make all the upgrades to the vehicles in time to put yourself in a position to run well from when you stopped running well, and it can happen instantly. Look at the 22. They had a scenario that they built the car around, whatever that scenario was, they built their car around and NASCAR didn't like it, so they changed the rules and from that point on they were in a rebuilding phase to try to get themselves in position. What you hope is you're in a position like the 48 was, where they won a couple races and I think they were in a similar position where they had some rules change and they had some things happen and couldn't run the stuff that they were running anymore. From that point you have to start the rebuilding process and it's a massive ship to turn around. Production falls into that, R&D falls in that, the progression of rules falls into that, and you have to prioritize and say, 'OK, I need to have everything that is in the system from an R&D standpoint in the production built for Chicago.' If you're in a position to do that, and the 48 was and has been before, you can put all of those R&D pieces into production and have them ready by the time you get to this point in the year."

WE SEE TEAMS CHANGE PIT CREWS THIS TIME OF YEAR. IS THERE ANYTHING POSITIVE TO THAT? "There are going to be some hurt feelings, but I think at this particular point when you have a set amount of cars from your organization that are into the Playoffs, and you have two pit crews that you feel like are the best two pit crew that you have, or three pit crews, whatever the case may be, you put your best foot forward. Some of the fans aren't gonna understand that, but you've already spent 26 weeks trying to get to this point and the cars that aren't in it need to rebuild for next year and the cars that are in it need to have everything that that company has and those Playoff cars will be the priority until you get to Homestead of they get eliminated. I think from a company standpoint it's the right thing to do and you've seen it. We've done it. Other teams have done it and it's a part of putting your best foot forward to try to win a championship for your organization."

WHICH NON-PLAYOFF DRIVERS DO YOU FEEL HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN A PLAYOFF RACE? "I think Bowyer has run really well and had a chance to win a couple races, and I think this is obviously going to make him hungry. The 22 and Joey Logano is in the same position. The 77 has made an abundance of mistakes throughout the year in arguably what is going to be some of the fastest cars that he'll probably ever drive in his career. Martin has obviously shown what those cars will do, and even Suarez. Looking at the performance of all the cars on that particular team, and you've seen him show up a lot up front, so of those four I think any of those four cars can win a race. I think obviously when we go to Talladega Dale Jr. will probably run pretty good as you go to Talladega and have a chance to win, just like he's done for 20 years of whatever it has been. It's interesting because there are a lot of different agendas now. You have guys that want to survive and get to the next round of the Playoffs, guys that want to win and lock themselves into the Playoffs, you have teams that want to prove themselves that want to make themselves better for next year. So there are just so many different agendas that play out this time of year that you can see people win races that maybe hadn't won races or need to win races in different positions."

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR TEAM FOCUSED WITH WHAT'S GOING ON AT SHR NOW? "I think there is more settled than unsettled. I think as you look at our situation I look at all the moving and changing and things and I haven't seen anything that's not for the better at this particular point. I think as long as we're making changes and everybody feels like they're getting better, I think you're gonna strengthen the whole organization."

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