Monday, Dec 04

Ford Performance NASCAR: NCS Gateway Media Availability Kevin Harvick

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Ford Mustang -- WITH A NEW TRACK LIKE THIS, HOW MUCH DO YOU USE THE FORD SIMULATOR TO PREPARE? “Yeah, we use it ever week just to try to familiarize ourselves and help the guys with their sim stuff and try to develop and advance the simulator. So, yes, the answer to that is yes.”


HOW IMPORTANT IS IT ON A WEEK LIKE THIS COMING TO A NEW TRACK? “Well, it does really depend on the week. It is important from a development side more than I would tell you it is important from my side but without the driver feedback, it is hard to develop it correctly and properly with the pre and post and all the things you need to do. As you go forward it just becomes more important every year in my opinion as you get less track time. The more relevant it is, the better off you are going to be.”


THEY ARE SAYING THIS TRACK IS PHOENIX-ISH AND NEW HAMPSHIRE-ISH. ARE THERE THINGS THIS TRACK DOES THAT FITS YOUR STYLE? ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THIS TRACK BECAUSE OF THOSE THINGS? “It is obviously a flat race track and I think as you look at this particular car it is kind of a crap shoot every week until you have some notes and know what you fight and where you are good or bad. We were all good at Phoenix, so hopefully some of that carries over. I would consider this a much different race track than Phoenix, just because of turns 1 and 2 and how unique it is with possibly downshifting twice and all the things that could happen. So, the expectations and the things that happen and don't happen, I would have told you that last week was going to be just a horrendous race after Texas. It wound up being pretty exciting. It is really hard to tell what is going to happen until you actually just get out there and go.”


WOULD YOU PREFER THAT YOU GUYS DIDN’T HAVE THE ABILITY TO SHIFT HERE? “No, I think it would be way worse if you didn’t shift. I think I ran my first race here in probably 1998 in the Truck Series. I remember shifting in the Busch Series car. That corner is so tight down there that you have to be able to have something to get it out because otherwise everyone just stomps the throttle and it doesn't go anywhere because it isn’t turning any RPMs. I like less rules. The less rules the better. It is easier to interpret.”


WHAT SHOULD BE DONE WITH THE ALL-STAR RACE? “That is out of my pay grade. I can tell you we had a fantastic race last week. I think as you look at that, and you look at the Clash, you have some pretty good options. One is a quarter-mile in a football stadium and one is a mile-and-a-half long. We have had some great races as we have gone through the season and going to different venues and having different things happen. If it was mine, I would do things probably in a different way, but it is not mine, I just drive. It is like I tell my son, make a couple billion dollars and then you can buy it and decide what the schedule looks like. I think you have to respect that part of it. Other people's decisions that are running businesses to what they think is appropriate. We have had a lot of good races this year, so you have options. You will know where it all stands when you get done with Phoenix and you have run at all the tracks.”


BASED ON WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN AT THE 1.5 MILE TRACKS THIS SEASON WITH THIS CAR, DO YOU THINK THAT IS ENOUGH TO CONSIDER GOING BACK TO THE OVAL AT INDIANAPOLIS? “It could be the greatest race on earth. What is the real ingredient that made Charlotte so much better than Texas? I don't know. I don't think anybody knows. You just have to do it. I think that would be the only way you would find out. It is kind of a stumper to try to figure out exactly what the ingredients are that make a good race or a bad race and what tracks are good and what tracks are bad. I wish somebody could tell me because I would have bet a million dollars last week that Charlotte was going to be horrendous. Then all of a sudden we are running up on a part of the race track that we haven’t run in five or six years. I have quit trying to guess what my car is going to drive like, what race is going to be good, what race is going to be bad, because there is no rhyme or reason to it. I think that is just because there are so many new variables that we all just don't completely understand and it is kind of trial and error. I don't know. I hate driving into the Brickyard and driving backward down the straightaway and driving the road course. I think it is terrible for our sport and almost degrading to a certain degree that you take the best racing series in the country and take it to what most would consider one of the greatest race tracks in the world but race on the road course.”


IT WAS ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK THAT PHOENIX WILL HOST THE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE AGAIN IN 2023. YOU HAVE TALKED IN THE PAST ABOUT A WANT TO MOVE THAT RACE AROUND. DO YOU ACCEPT IT AT THIS POINT? “It is kind of like the All-Star race. There are so many variables and factors that go into it from a business standpoint and from a city standpoint. The crowds have shown up and wrapped their arms around it and they are good at hosting those types of events. There is way more that goes into it than just my opinion on what I would do if I was spitballing things to try to create something that was exciting. It is a much deeper mix of things that have to be decided from a business standpoint and there is a lot more that goes into it than what I would do just because it sounds fun. It is way more in-depth than that. I think the races have been good and the city hosting it has been great and the fans have shown up and that is what we want, we want people to show up and watch us race and that is the most important thing.”


YOU ARE 31 POINTS ABOVE THE PLAYOFF CUT-OFF RIGHT NOW. DO YOU LOOK AT STUFF LIKE THAT RIGHT NOW? DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO WIN? HAVE YOU STARTED TALKING ABOUT RACE STRATEGY IN TERMS OF POINTS? “Just tell me where I am at the end of 26. If we are in, we are in. If we are out, we are out. We are either good enough or not good enough. I have so much other stuff to think about to try helping with the cars and going to different places every week that you can’t really count points.”


DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE ANY PLAYOFF SPOTS ON POINTS? “I don't know. I will tell you in 11 weeks or 12 weeks, whatever it is.”


AFTER RUNNING THE CAROUSEL THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS AT SONOMA THEY ARE GOING BACK TO THE SCHUTE THIS YEAR. WHICH DO YOU PREFER? “Yeah, the carousel just didn’t work very good for where our cars were in time. I ran the carousel back in 1995 in the southwest tour car and I don't remember it being like it was the last couple years where the cars didn't really go through well and it kind of took that Turn 4 to Turn 7 passing opportunities away and just kind of slowed the speed down. I don't know. It just didn’t feel great with our car so I think it is a good move to go back where we were. I think that fits these cars better.”


ANY BIG PLANS FOR THE OFF-WEEKEND? HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOUR GUYS TO HAVE THAT TIME TO KIND OF REJUVENATE AFTER THE YEAR THEY HAVE HAD TRYING TO PUT THIS CAR TOGETHER? “Yeah, I think it is important. I think for us, having that early season off-week has really been missed this year because you didn’t have time to kind of get your thoughts together. I thought it would be great to have no off weekends but I would retract that statement quickly after not having that early-season off-weekend. I wish they would just shut the shops. I wish it would be mandatory doors locked all week, like F1 to make sure those guys don't get overworked. I know a lot of them will take some time and hopefully take a week and kind of get rejuvenated and go from there.”

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