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Ford Performance NASCAR: Sonoma (Kevin Harvick Media Availability)

Ford Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Toyota/Save Mart 350 (Sonoma Raceway; Sonoma, CA)
Friday, June 22, 2018

Kevin Harvick, the defending race winner at Sonoma, met with media members Friday morning and discussed what it will take to repeat here among other topics.

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion — THIS TRACK HAS SO MANY DIFFERENT WINNERS AND VERY FEW REPEAT WINNERS. WHAT MAKES THAT SO DIFFICULT? “I think you will see a repeat winner this time. I think that stage racing has taken a little bit of the strategy piece out of it. There is strategy, obviously last year for us we played to get no stage points but the piece of strategy that it takes out is you know when the caution is going to fly. You know at those two stages that the caution will fly at that particular lap. Your strategy is kind of dictated, one way or another. You will either pit before the stage ends or run it to the end and get the points. In those two sections of the race you know. You really only have one pit stop window, maybe two at the end depending on how many sets of tires you have left. Tires are obviously very important here as far as speed. You have to manage your tires. Depending how many tires you have left you might stop once and if the caution falls correctly in the first stage, once or twice at the end depending on the sets left.”

THIS PLACE IS GREAT FOR RESTARTS: “It is great for you guys to watch but hard on the fenders. I think the double-file restarts really changed the dynamic of road racing in general. There is so much happening on the restarts and this track is so narrow. You wind up qualifying first and wind up on the left side and want to be on the right side because of the fact that the second corner is the key to getting up the hill and you want to be on the inside. It is a unique track. The restarts get rough. The great part about this place is the fact that a few dented in sides or a caved in nose or a bent in fender doesn’t end your day here. It is part of the race.”

LOOKING AT THE HISTORY OF THIS RACE HERE. IN 1991 RICKY RUDD WON AND GOT THE CHECKERED FLAG BUT THEN THEY BLACK FLAGGED HIM AND GAVE THE WIN TO DAVEY ALLISON. THEY DON’T DO THAT SINCE THEN, BUT HOW INVOLVED SHOULD NASCAR BE IN WHAT HAPPENS ON A ROAD COURSE WHERE PEOPLE DO SOMETHING INTENTIONAL OR LET YOU FIGHT IT OUT? “I think a lot has changed since 1991. As you look at the way that things go now, it is much more methodical and laid out as to have they officiate and the things that they do are somewhat predictable. There are some unique circumstances that work themselves through different races but I think as you look at rough driving, unless it is way over the top, NASCAR is pretty much going to let you handle things yourself. That is part of the mystique of what goes on when something like that happens. When is the payback coming? Is there a payback? Who is mad at who? That is what people show up to see. I am glad they stay out of stuff like that.”

YOU LIKE IT THAT WAY? “Yeah, I think that is part of the game. If somebody runs you over, they never really know if you are going to get them back or if you run somebody over you don’t know how they are going to act. That is kind of the risk reward. Especially with this playoff system, how many people do you want mad at you when you head into week one of the playoffs. You look at Kenseth and Joey Logano. It didn’t work out well. The risk versus reward of Joey spinning Matt out in Kansas that year probably cost him a chance at winning the championship. Probably his best shot at winning the championship. There is a lot to navigate as far as the risk reward of what you do and don’t do, especially this time of year. it is hard to hide here. You are going to get run into by somebody and you are going to run into somebody. It is just how it all plays out through that particular race and where you meet again.”

WHAT ABOUT THE DECISION NOT TO USE THE NEW AERO PACKAGE ANYMORE THIS YEAR? “I think that is a really good decision. As you look at all the logistics of trying to turn the tide, it is like putting your house up for sale. Most likely you aren’t going to sell it the next day and have money in the bank. It takes time to put your house up for sale, have the loan paid off and find somewhere new to live. That is just a small example of something that is real life. When you look at these teams and the things that are laid out and money already spent on research and development, I think we can make that package better than what it was at the All-Star race. In order to do that you have to have a well laid out plan so that you don’t jump into something and have to change something else. How do we get into what everyone that was a great race at the All-Star race and make it better than it was and not have to change the spoiler or plate size or change the tires. Goodyear really prepared. As you look at it, there wa sa lot of talk about Indianapolis and running that package and the first then everyone says was that it would probably be a good race and then the second thing was if the tire would work for Goodyear. There has already been a test plan and money spent on logistics and tires were already built. There are so many things that affect something else that it just takes a lot in order to do something like that. You aren’t talking about a splitter or spoiler. You are talking about a whole body, a new aero package, a new engine package and we are already talking about saving $2,500 for a set of tires per team and trying to help budget. If you go and spend what would probably cost – I am not even going to put a number on it – but it would be in the millions as to what it would cost each teams to turn that program around. If you started a season with a plan to say we are going to do this, the teams can take their budget and budget around things and be able to be prepared. NASCAR is in the same boat. There will be things that pop up from an inspection side of things that nobody thought of. At that point it will be about this guy doing this and nobody else has figured it out and we need to change the rule but we already made the rules. YOu have to be really careful about diving into something and not thinking about the reverse effect on things. It is about money at this particular point. You are almost halfway through the season and everyone is getting ready for the playoffs. it would be a massive undertaking for the whole sport. Could be right and could be wrong. You haven’t run a full race and don’t really know for sure. We had a great All_Star race and a lot of positive momentum. I think it sounds like they are trying to make sure the next time it is on the track that it is as good or better than it was at the All-Star race.”

IS THERE ANY WAY TO FIND OUT HOW IT WILL DO WITHOUT DOING IT IN AN ACTUAL RACE SETTING? “No, there is no way. But it still costs money. It is real easy to say we should do this, but that is real money. This is real world stuff. Everybody agreed to go to the All-Star race and do something different, try something different and see how it goes. Everybody liked the outcome but that was play money compared to the money it would take to spend to do it real life. I don’t consider the All-Star race real life. Real life is a points paying race that everybody would show up and go to the wind tunnel and spend time working on their cars and put them through the CFD and make sure they are making downforce and the engine guys will go in and try to develop motors that make the most horsepower and that is what you want to see everybody on the race track with. It was a great product and great event at the All-Star race but it takes time to do things right.”

DOES THE SPORT HAVE TIME THOUGH? ARE THEY RUNNING OUT OF TIME? “Only if you keep writing bad stories.”

YOU GO TO CHICAGO NEXT WEEKEND AND IT WON’T BE A PLAYOFF RACE THIS TIME. DOES THAT CHANGE MUCH FOR YOU? “Yeah, it has been awhile since I have been to Chicago in the middle of July. That race track in particular, the asphalt is really worn out and you add some high temperatures to go with it and it should be a really fun race with the cars sliding around> As you look at that racetrack and the things that have happened there and not being in the playoffs this year. You have to go to places that support the sport. I am glad to see we are going to Las Vegas and that city will embrace what we do. Bob asked if we had time and sometimes you have to promote the sport correctly and do the things that it takes from an event standpoint. It is not all about the cars. The racing, we have had some great races and every race is not great. Every football game is not great. Every baseball game is not great. It is a different time in the world as far as how people absorb things, where they go to watch things and I think it is time to concentrate more on the events and atmosphere and things that happen. Everyone loves to come to Sonoma. Ten years ago nobody wanted to come to a road course. Everybody hates coming to a road course. They thought they stunk. All of a sudden it was an event, a destination event that all the sponsors show up to. These are they types of event where honestly nobody cares about the race except us. Everybody has a hell of a time when they come to Sonoma because they can bring their wife, bring their friends and the sponsors all come and we have big events. It could be the best race you’ve ever seen at Sonoma or the worst race but everybody is going to have a great time. That is what really needs to be concentrated on. My point in all of this is that we are going to go to Las Vegas this year. I have seen the marketing plan and the things NASCAR and the race track has planned to activate as we go into that market to sell tickets and draw awareness and work on the local TV and local crowd. Chicago had just become a little bit stale and the crowd wasn’t what it needed to be. When you show up to Vegas it is going to be a great way to start the playoffs and it is a great city to do that in.”

YOU KNOW THE HEADLINE IS GOING TO BE, ‘KEVIN HARVICK SAYS NOBODY CARES ABOUT THE RACE’, DO YOU WANT TO CLARIFY THAT? “What I am saying is you can come to this particular race and a lot of the people that come to this particular race are not here for the race. They are here for a good weekend with their husband or wife or son or daughter. OR they are part of a group and they are going to go to wine country and a race and they will hear those cars come down the frontstretch and drop the green flag and they will say, ‘Wow, I have never seen anything like this.’ They will see cars spinning through the dirt and running into tire barriers and five guys change the tires and fill it up with 20-gallons of fuel in 14-seconds and it is just an event like they have never seen before. When you go to these events, 50% of the crowd doesn’t care about the race because they have never been there but when they leave, 50% of that 50% will ask when is the next one. That is what you want to leave them with. Having a great weekend. There are a lot of people that care about the race but also a lot of people that come to the race that are just coming for a great time in Sonoma.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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