CHEVROLET NCS AT NORTH WILKESBORO: Kevin Harvick Media Availability Quotes

Kevin Harvick met with the media in advance of the practice and qualifying session for the NASCAR Cup Series’ All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, where Harvick will be filling the seat of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1.

Media Availability Quotes:

This double duty is a little different than what it probably meant to you before…

“It’s definitely not the attire that I thought I would be wearing this year. But it’s been a fun process. Sometimes there are phone calls that you react to different than others. When Rick (Hendrick) called and said what he needed and I said OK, everyone at FOX was kind enough to let us take the day to do what we needed to do. It’s been a fun process to be able to go through everything with Cliff (Daniels) and everybody at Hendrick. They’ve been true pros about it. SHR has been great to give us our seats and seat rails and make the fitting process a little bit less complicated. So it’s gone well. But definitely not something I expected to be doing this year.”

When you stepped out of the car at Phoenix, how does that affect your sense of finality in terms of how your driving career came to a close last fall?

“Obviously my full-time career is over. I think that sometimes there are just things that pop up that are fun. This’ll be fun for me, it’ll be fun for Cliff and it’ll be fun just to relate and talk to Kyle about what’s happening here today. Obviously he has a lot going on. So to get back in the car six, seven, eight months later, whatever it’s been, you’re definitely not as sharp as you would have been than if you had gotten right back in and run all the races. This is really more to help those guys out in this scenario. I think they were just looking for somebody who had been in a car. This car is a lot different to drive than an Xfinity car or any of the other cars that you would run. Really just having a good time with it, and we’ll see how it goes.”

You spent about 20 years driving a Gen 4, Gen 5, Gen 6 chassis, which were all kind of related to each other before the Next Gen. Is it more difficult to get back in this car and take to it knowing it is so different from what you ran for all but two years of your Cup career?

“I’ll let you know in about an hour. I don’t know that answer.”

Was there ever a point where Mr. H called to ask you to drive one of his racecars over the last 20 years? And how much of this is kind of a personal accomplishment to say that you’ve now driven for Mr. H?

“Any time that these conversations had come up in the past, I had been in the middle of a situation that I was happy with and good with. It’s always been a casual conversation about things. Rick being involved in Stewart-Haas Racing when I started, there obviously was a conversation that happened there to go to SHR. To have that relationship with the engine shop and all the sharing of the information, he still had to be good with it. I did have to sit there and put my Xfinity deal together in Rick’s office and let him work all that out. It’s not the first time we’ve had interaction. But it’s the first time it’s worked out to get into one of his cars and drive it on the Cup side. It’s fun.”

Does it feel different that you’re driving the 5?

“I don’t know. I’ve climbed in and out of it at the shop. The last time I got into one of these vehicles for the first time was 2013 at the open test that was basically all Hendrick with Rodney (Childers) working on the car for the first time. It’s different because I’ve been sitting in the booth watching the 5 car do what it does on the racetrack. My only job today is to get it into the pit box and try to understand the difference in the tires. It’s fun to see how the guys have approached it with something that is literally for one 50-minute practice. But we’ve approached it like we’re going into a race weekend because they want to do everything they can do to get Kyle prepared to come from the back of the pack to try to win the All-Star race. It’s been very methodical with how they’ve gone about everything. I’ve sat in all the team meetings and been in the simulator and done all those things as we’ve led up to like they were preparing for the race. Hopefully I can do my part.”

Your thoughts on the All-Star race coming back here, and is this a good venue for it?

“Seeing the venue lit up last year with all the changes and the event itself, and everybody loves the short tracks and North Wilkesboro has been talked about for a long time… so I think with the repave, now it’s what North Wilkesboro is going to be as we go through this year and next year. I guess it will be our last race of the season next year. It’s close to home, so that’s a good thing.”

Compared to SHR and elsewhere, has anything struck you or stood out about how HMS does things?

“I heard from the owner twice in two weeks, so that’s different! It’s interesting to see just the race shop, the structure and the way that everybody goes about it differently… there’s a million different ways you can do things. The thing that sticks out for me about Hendrick Motorsports in general, it’s truly run like a business that is part of an actual structure of how things flow and who you talk to. There’s just the depth of the business side and the racing side, it’s deep. That’s pretty eye-opening – just the structure from the whole thing. And I like structure. That’s something that has been good to see.”

To see behind the scenes at Hendrick and to have the success that you did knowing that you at times were able to beat them…

“The 4 team itself was very structured. We had a great group of people that communicated well and did a lot of little things well, but also took the burden of some things that weren’t as structured within the organization. To be able to do those things and still run well was a burden for all the guys on the team. I had a very special group of people that succeeded in a structure that wasn’t as structured as what we’re in currently in this situation. I had a lot of success at Stewart-Haas Racing and all the things we did, I’m super proud of. I love the relationships that we had. It’s just vastly different cultures.”

How important is it for you in the analyst chair to know what’s going on with these cars and translate it for the people at home?

“It’s priceless. This sport evolves quickly. To be understand the tires, the scenario that goes with how long these tires will last, how fast they go, what the feeling is and what all the scenarios are… listening to someone else’s team, I took my team for granted because we had been around for so long. To hear other people’s thoughts and process and understand all those things to be able to relate to the fans, it’s a pretty big deal to get a mid-year check of things that go with the evolution of our sport. It evolves quickly and can leave you behind quickly. To be still engrained in it and understand where everything’s at is always good.”

Going from a part-time broadcaster to full-time, what’s been the biggest challenge?

‘It’s just a different group of people. I’m intrigued with how to communication with people and how things are structured. On the television side, it’s a lot of people. To be able to know and understand how that process works and be able to work with different people… I just have a different team that I work with. I’ve been fortunate to not to have to get to know Clint (Bowyer). Mike (Joy), I’ve not known personally, but to get to know him and be able to be comfortable in the booth, we’ve had a good time calling the races and have been able to evolve and get better as the year has gone on. It’s been very different living outside the infield. The things I’ve been had to worry about the most this year is where we’re going to eat dinner at night. It’s much different than how you function in the infield.”

How much do you appreciate or are you intrigued with how another team operates?

“Like I said earlier, I was fortunate to have a very, very good race team at Stewart-Haas. To walk into another very, very good race team and see the things that go on and happen, it’s fun to get a look behind the curtain. Kyle is very good at whatever he races, but Cliff is also very understanding the fact that he’s off racing other things. How they talk about things and when they go through things with Kyle is very interesting. It seems like they want him to keep being Kyle. To be able to talk about the things they need in their car, how they structure things with Kyle and when they meet with him and why they do, that part to me is very insightful because we all tick a little different. Kyle likes to race all the time. Some guys don’t want to race all that. They just want to race the Cup car and show up on the weekend and do that. Some guys like to race the Xfinity car. There’s a balance for everybody that gets the most out of them. It seems they’ve leaned into letting Kyle be Kyle. That’s not always the case with everyone that drives in the Cup Series. Letting Kyle do Kyle things is surrounded by a group of people that want to be there because of him and how good he is.”

It’ll be a benefit for you to be in the car to stay current on how it’s reacting, but what about the repave and knowing how the track feels when you go back to the booth?

“All that. If we run this race on Sunday on slick tires and you’ve got the tires going on and off, just understanding how far the soft tires will go… There’s a good possibility that if you do that and the soft-tire guys have to come to pit road under green, just all the little nuances of little things. The more detail that we have, the more we have to talk about and relay to the people and you guys to understand. I look at it that we want to teach people about what our sport is, as well, and the things that are happening. There’s a number of things that go into that in order to make the car go around the racetrack that people just have no idea.”

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