|Harvick, using winning Coca-Cola chassis, was fastest in Friday's practice|
ON FINDING THE SOLDIER HE MET AT FORT BRAGG NORTH CAROLINA:
“None of that was really intended to be a public matter, to be honest with you. I thought when we went to Fort Bragg I thought we would easily be able to find out the gentleman’s name that I had just talked to. We got the information, and looking forward to talking to him, hopefully at the race track sometime in the near future.
“We went to Fort Bragg, and just kind of took it for granted that the situation, and the fact that we didn’t get his name. We thought it would be rather easy to find out somebody’s name that we just talked to 15 minutes ago, and it has taken this long. So finally we took it among our group to take it to social media, and in a day and a half, we had found him, so it was pretty cool.”
HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED IN THIS LONG STRETCH DURING THE SUMMER MOVING TOWARD THE START OF THE CHASE?
“It is nice being in the position that we are in. You know we’ve been in several different areas of the points throughout this time of year. Obviously with a couple of wins, and where we are in the points, you are really going after wins. It is just like this week; we’ve been gone for three or four weeks with the testing, appearances, the races and the travel. For myself, after we got home Monday night, I just shut it down for three days, and took a few days off. The biggest thing is just once you have experienced, no matter where you are in the points, once you’ve experienced this time of year, you learn how to maintain yourself. If you are in a bad spot mentally, you know you need to shut it down for a couple of days. Or just physically not feeling well, you need to just take care of yourself. It is all about being ready for that first race of the Chase. Right now it is all about trying to gain more wins.”
DO YOU THINK THAT YOU CAME HERE AND TESTED A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO PUTS YOUR TEAM A LITTLE AHEAD OF THE CURVE?
“This is a unique race track with just how rough it is. I think everywhere we have been the car has required something different to be able to make it go around the race track like you need it to. We have a limited amount of practice time today. We have two practices and qualifying today, so everything is very condensed into a short amount of time. So hopefully we have a good place to start. Sometimes those tests backfire on you. At Pocono, it all worked out for us, and we had a competitive car and were able to run fast, and do the things we thought we should be able to do from the test. As you come back to a race track and you see a lot more rubber on it, and you see some different weather conditions, you are always a little bit concerned until you get through practice and the race and see where everything is at.”
HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY CHANGE IN THE TRACK SURFACE FROM LAST YEAR?
“No, the track surface is pretty consistent. This is just a really rough race track. There is nothing wrong with the race track; it is just rough. We’d rather see a rough race track than a re-paved race track. I don’t feel that we had much difference than we had last year.”
WHEN YOU ONLY GET FOUR OF THEM, WHY TEST HERE?
“Honestly, I haven’t even been asked where to test. Let me rephrase that. I’ve been asked where to test, but never really been in the meetings as to how those conclusions have been come up with. We all kind of put in a hat as to where we want to test, and the crew chiefs and management decide where they want to go from there. You get asked, and hopefully the decisions are made from a group of common denominators I guess you could say of the tracks that were picked. The crew chiefs and management make those final decisions. I would rather not test anywhere to be honest with you (LAUGHS).
“The Ford camp had Casey’s (Mears) here with all the Roush people working on it. They were here for three days. I don’t know what we could have done for the third day, but two days was plenty for me. Our testing was condensed into Pocono one week; Kentucky the next week. We definitely changed a lot of things from the time we started. The Pocono thing – we kind of got Pocono, Michigan and Indy kind of falls into that same group of race tracks. This one doesn’t really fall into much; but we hadn’t run very well here, so I think that was probably why they decided to come here.”
WHAT IS IT ABOUT TURN THREE HERE? DO YOU HAVE TO GET THAT RIGHT BEFORE YOU WORK ON REST OF TRACK?
“Turn three is just really flat getting into the corner. You have more banking as you exit the corner, so you kind of drive into the banking and it progressively gets a little bit more as you come off of the corner. It’s really flat right there, and you are carrying a lot of speed. You just wind up being loose into the corner for the most part. As you go through the weekend that will be the toughest spot to navigate for sure.”
ON KYLE PETTY’S COMMENTS ON DANICA PATRICK:
“That is a loaded gun right there. I think this (racing in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series) is hard to do. You see there is really no good training ground for it anymore in the Nationwide and Truck Series because of the lack of horsepower. It is really hard to understand what you need to drive these cars, and to be able to drive them fast. It is just not something that is going to happen overnight. I don’t know that I would go as far as calling her not a racer because she has raced her whole life, and I think on a continuous learning curve. She’s obviously dedicated at what she does to try and get better, and knows she has a lot of hurdles to overcome in a short amount of time.
“She’s fortunate to have a sponsor that is willing to back her, and take those learning experiences with her. Hopefully as the week’s progress, she gets better and better. In that aspect, I think you look at that, and you try to put all that in perspective. I couldn’t imagine just coming in here and having two-and-a-half years of stock car experience, and expect to come here and be competitive knowing what all this entails. It’s hard. And it’s not going to get easier. I think that is why over the years you’ve seen less and less new drivers come into the sport because the cars have become harder to drive. There’s just nowhere to figure out how to drive them other than being on the race track on a Cup Sunday or Saturday that we race. Because they are just hard to drive.”
IS IT A DIFFERENT LEARNING CURVE EVERY TIME WITH GOING TO A NEW TRACK FOR THE FIRST TIME WITH THE NEW GEN 6 CAR?
“They’ve obviously created some new challenges for us. Different types of race tracks. As you look through the schedule, and you look at everything that we’ve done, just think they are going to run faster everywhere. They are going to run faster, but how you get there is a totally different equation than what we had to put together last year. It is just much different. We’ve progressed in a different direction than everything we had last year.”
AS AN ATHLETE, HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO SIT THERE AND HAVE PEOPLE SAY THINGS LIKE THAT ABOUT YOU IN A SITUATION LIKE DANICA PATRICK IS IN?
“It is almost that unfair part of being really popular. In her case, she obviously has got a lot of attention and things that come with it. She seems to, just being around her the little bit that I have, seems to have kind of become immune to it, and understands what the goal… I think she is realistic with her goals, and understands that she has a lot to learn and tries to take everything in. It is easier just to turn it all off. Not read it. Not listen to it. Because at some point, whether it is her, or myself, or Dale, Jr. or Tony Stewart, or whoever it may be; you are going to be criticized, and you are not going to like it if you read. So it is easier just to not pay attention to it. I think if you can make yourself do that, life is a lot better, and you understand where your team is at, and where your goals are; and how you need to adjust them. And how you need to better. There is really nobody inside of any of our situations that can really understand why things are like they are; why they are good; why they are bad, or what you need to do to fix them. Because until you are in it on a day-to-day basis, this is really how to do.”
WILL THE NEW TIRE THEY ARE BRINGING TO DAYTONA GOING TO CHANGE THE RACING NEXT WEEK?
“I didn’t even know they were changing the tire. (LAUGHS) See, that is how I stay detached from it, so I don’t have any preconceived notions going to the race track on a given weekend.”
HOW DO YOU COMPARE TOMORROW NIGHT’S RACE TO THE COKE 600 IN TERMS OF ADJUSTABILITY? “When we tested, we tested from day to night. I think as you go into the race, you try to build some of things into your car; whether it will be more or less – hopefully we’ll have some things that we can go back and look at, and realize what we need to do at a certain time of day. No matter what race it is, you have to have adjustability in your car no matter where you are because you never know what the conditions are going to be like when you start the race in a pack. You never get to run in a complete pack like we will when the race starts.”
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- Team Chevy