Saturday, October 9, 2010

Harvick, Johnson and Gordon Quotes From Friday at California

KEVIN HARVICK ON CALIFORNIA AND THE 2010 SEASON: “Well, I think for us it has obviously been a great year for us. You look back to the second race of the year, and this is really one of the weeks that kind of spring boarded everything into motion. As we went through the race here and felt like these were our weaker race tracks over the past few years and we’ve been in contention to win the first race here and obviously won the last race at Michigan. We’ve had circle on this one as we come back to this particular race track. Obviously, [I am] racing in front a lot of our fans and a lot of friends and family from home, so it is hopefully going to be a good weekend. A lot has changed since then—no wing, you’ve got the spoiler on the car and a lot of things are different. Based upon Michigan, hopefully things will be good.”

HARVICK ON HAVING ONLY ONE RACE AT FONTANA NEXT YEAR: “I don’t think that it will be a bad thing. I think when we used to come here and there was one race a year, a lot of participation from the fans and I think this is not going to be a bad thing for this particular market, in my opinion.”

HARVICK ON GOING TO NASCAR RACES GROWING UP IN CALIFORNIA: “I actually went to—you’re going to laugh—the only time I went to Riverside, I wasn’t old enough to get in and my dad was there working on Rick Carelli’s car. I actually went into the infield in the backseat of Cathy Carelli’s car with a blanket over the top of me to get into the pits. I stayed in the back of the—Rick had a bread truck basically as a hauler at that particular point—but that was the last race at Riverside. Then we’ve been to Phoenix as we were racing the Southwest Tour cars and things like that for the Cup race.”

HARVICK ON THE DIFFERENCES FROM FEBRUARY'S RACE TO NOW: “Well it’s a lot different actually because with the wing off a lot of the downforce numbers and shifts of downforce have changed from front to rear. The cars are quite a bit different, but everything that we’ve got in our car this weekend, it is the same car that we ran at Michigan and a lot of the same things underneath the car that we ran in Michigan. I feel really good about going into the weekend and I feel like we should run well.”

HARVICK ON THE SIMILAR SET-UPS BETWEEN MICHIGAN AND FONTANA: “Well, we hope we can pattern it fairly close. There will be some differences in the setup. Obviously it is going to be probably 90 degrees on Sunday, so the weather will be virtually identical to what it was in Michigan, but the racetrack has its own unique characteristics and drives a little bit different than Michigan. A lot of the same setup theories will work here.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON COMING BACK TO CALIFORNIA: “It’s been a fun week for us already. We had our golf tournament that took place on Wednesday and a dinner that was Tuesday night. Raised just around $525,000 so very successful event and something that we’re very proud of. Then to come to my home state and be back in my home area to race on my home track, just excited to be back and hopeful to have another solid weekend.”

JOHNSON ON HOW HE FEELS ABOUT FONTANA LOSING A DATE: “As a California native, I’m disappointed to hear that it’s losing an event because it’s taken so long for NASCAR to get here and then to really engrain it into the sports fans in the area. I hate to see us lose a weekend here, but on a national scale and what’s right for the sport, I kind of see that side as well. Think that if we’re not packing the stands, we probably need to take the second date somewhere else and I have a lot of friends that would come all the time when there was just one race. When it went to two races, it almost gave them an out to say, ‘Well, we’re busy this spring, we’ll come back in the fall.’ The fall would be here and the race would be here and they would say, ‘Well, we’ll come back in the spring.’ I could see both sides of it. Either way, I just hope that we have packed stands and everybody watching at home.”

JOHNSON ON MINDSET FOR CALIFORNIA: “I come in optimistic for sure, but to have a race in February and then to come back in October, so much has gone on from a technical standpoint with the race cars that I’m optimistic, but at the same time I know that once we get out here, it’s going to be a different set of circumstances than what we’ve seen in the past. I do have a lot of confidence in how we ran at Atlanta and then again last weekend in Kansas and think that we’re going in the right direction with our setups and making our cars more competitive on these big tracks.”

JOHNSON'S GOALS EACH WEEK OF THE CHASE: “I think really is just don’t squander away a good start to the season and from there, after Talladega, form a strategy. After Talladega, you can finally breath a little bit, you’re over the halfway point. If you’re behind, you know you need to take chances to catch up. If you’re ahead, you might start thinking about protecting something then and take it from there. I just try to simplify things. I’m not a very smart guy, evidently he’s (Denny Hamlin) a lot smarter than I am.”

JEFF GORDON ON WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN AT CALIFORNIA: “I don’t know, ask me after Sunday because it’s been a while since we’ve won anywhere and this track is a tricky one. It’s slick, the grooves move around during the race and we haven’t had the success here recently that we’ve had in the past. Sometimes it takes fuel mileage. Sometimes it takes having a good car on the restarts. Sometimes pit strategy, but a lot of different things. I’ll take a fast car anywhere we go, that always helps. It’s going to be interesting this weekend being 400 miles instead of 500. How that’s going to change things, of course it always depends on when the cautions fall and how they fall. Being a little bit shorter race I think it always more exciting. I’m anxious to see how it affects this one.”

GORDON ON FONTANA LOSING A RACE DATE: “This race track has struggled. I think it’s been obvious that while we have a great fan base out here and I think we want to maintain that, you have to look at the sport, the whole sport and everything that’s going on. When you leave Kansas Speedway and we’ve got an incredible crowd and just a huge group of fans are there and you look at how that race track and surrounding areas are growing. They’re building a casino and all those things. It just makes more sense for us to be there. Whether it’s the economy, whether it’s this market. They can’t even get an NFL franchise to work in this area. There’s something about this area that is really tough when it comes to sports franchises and sports entertainment in general. I think that right now it’s the right move. Hopefully we can get back to selling out this race and utilizing this market because it is a great market and then maybe one day come back and have two races.”

GORDON ON WHETHER HE WENT TO NASCAR RACES GROWING UP CALIFORNIA: “I didn’t know what a Cup car was when I lived in California, I’ll be honest. I didn’t know what NASCAR racing was until I moved to Indiana. Even though, my family on my dad’s side, I found out they were all big NASCAR fans. I had no idea. I had raced for years and all I followed was sprint cars and Indy cars and I found out that they were NASCAR fans on my dad’s side, but I had no idea.”

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