Originally written June 24, 2012 on Start 'N' Park Blog:
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Rheem Chevrolet, met with members of the media today at Sonoma Raceway and discussed the rule changes with the sway bars and side skirts, passing and blocking on the road course in Sonoma and other topics. TALK ABOUT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON AND BEING BACK HERE AT SONOMA:  “We are excited to come to Sonoma and run our first road race.  I enjoy the road racing and it gives you a chance to come home for me and see some friends and family and be able to spend at least a couple of days with them.  It’s nice to be back.” THE WAY THE ROAD COURSE RACES HAVE BEEN LATELY IT SEEMS LIKE THE ACTION AND CONTROVERSY THAT USED TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH SHORT TRACKS SEEMS TO BE HERE NOW AND SHORT TRACKS HAVE ALMOST GOTTEN TAMER IN SOME WAYS.  DO YOU SEE THAT AT ALL?  IF SO WHY IS THAT HAPPENING AT ROAD COURSES? “I would definitely agree with you.  I think this is probably our roughest race that we go to throughout the year now.  It has been for the last few years.  I think a lot of that comes from the double file restarts and I think it escalates as the day goes on.  I think everybody has become a lot better at road racing.  When you get those opportunities to pass you have to dive in there and take that opportunity and sometimes you make a mistake and get into a guy and get into his door or whatever the case may be.  You have to try to capitalize on opportunities and everybody is pretty aggressive and all that comes in a braking zone.  If you get behind and you know you have a pretty good car you have to push the issue and that gets everybody amped up.” DO YOU HAVE A BACK-UP DRIVER THIS WEEK IN CASE YOU WERE TO HAVE TO GO HOME? “We have some plans.” (DAVID) MAYHEW IS THAT…? “Yeah, David (Mayhew) went and practiced the car during the week this week, but he is running another car this week so if we have an issue we will address it when we get to that point with him.” WILL YOU END UP HAVING ONE EACH WEEK UNTIL THE BREAK OR…? “We don’t plan to right now.  It’s just a long ways from home right now so we had to make an alternative plan.” A LOT OF TALK LEADING UP TO DALE (EARNHARDT) JR’S WIN LAST WEEKEND ABOUT HIM BREAKING THROUGH ABOUT HIM ENDING THE STREAK FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE HOW DO YOU THINK HIM DOING THAT HAS AFFECTED THIS SPORT? “I think it was good for us to see him in victory lane and for him to get out of that media category of talking about losing more than people who are winning is good.  I think for him to get that pressure off of himself and obviously there is enough pressure on him to just go around the race track.  To be able to get back in victory lane with the way that they have run all year is fun to see and obviously everybody wanted to see him win but I think Steve (Letarte, crew chief) has been really good for him.  There is probably not a better motivator in the garage and I think that has been a big part of what’s kept that deal so competitive.  You can see that from the outside.”  DO YOU SEE A DIFFERENCE THIS YEAR COMPARED TO LAST? “I think when you just look at them from the outside in; I don’t think it is any different than it was last year.  I just think it takes time to build things exactly the way you want them. Even though that chemistry is there you still have the small details of situations of the race team have to be worked on, on a weekly basis and it continues to build.  They’ve had some time to build that.” CAN YOU TALK ABOUT PASSING AND BLOCKING AND WHERE IT STARTS AND HOW IT ALL FITS TOGETHER HERE? “Yeah, all that comes into play.  Obviously, passing there is a couple of spots where you know you need to be and as the driver on defense you know that going into that zone.  If you feel like you made a mistake coming into that passing zone you tend to block and the guy behind you is planning on passing and that is usually where there is a conflict of interest going into the next corner.  The restarts, the double file restarts that took it to a whole new level when we started that.  Especially here because it is so narrow and most of the corners you want to be in one particular spot.  That forces you to have to push and shove your way back into line.” SOME GUYS ARE GOOD AT ROAD COURSES SOME GUYS AREN’T.  IT’S NOT LIKE EVERYBODY WHO IS GOOD ON ROAD COURSES HAS CAME UP ROAD RACING.  DOES SOME OF THAT GO BACK TO THE KIND OF CARS YOU CAME UP ON AND THE KIND OF CAR CONTROL YOU DEVELOPED?  IS THERE ANY REASON TO WHO IS GOOD AT THIS AND WHO ISN’T? “Well there is not near as many people that aren’t good at it anymore.  Everybody puts a lot of effort into the road race stuff because I mean it still pays the same amount of points that you get every other week and especially during this time of year you don’t want to be the guy that is not very good at it and give away a hundred points or 20 points on a particular weekend when you come here.  I think you have to go test and the team has to put effort into the cars.  There are just not too many guys; even the guys that aren’t good at it are good at it now.  They may not be great but they are competitive and can put themselves in position to have good finishes.  I think a lot of it is the approach has changed a lot over the years.  Even since I have been in the sport as to who the good guys are and the guys that are not so good I mean there is really no real background difference.  Obviously, Marcos (Ambrose) has a road racing background and shines at these particular events, but I think everybody who is in the series is pretty competitive now.” DID YOU GET A CHANCE TO HEAR OR LOOK AT THE BULLETIN THAT WENT OUT THIS WEEK ABOUT THE SIDE SKIRTS? “That wasn’t all that was in the bulletin. That is the least significant part about the bulletin.” IS THE SWAY BARS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT PART? “I would say so.” WHY? “I think that there are obviously some people that have been running with the bars that won the race last week and their cars have been fast.  I think everybody has caught on to what they were doing with the bars and the trailing arms and the bushing and everybody was getting ready to venture down that road and spend a lot of time.  There is some significant speed in that particular package.  To me that was the biggest part of the rule change. Obviously, the side skirts thing is really just a balance shift in where the downforce is.  There is a little bit less.  I mean you are talking 80 to 90 pounds of downforce.  To me that was the biggest change.” HAD YOU GUYS STARTED WITH THE SWAY BARS YET? “We had last week was our first week.” THE SIDE SKIRT DESIGN IS TO IMPROVE KENTUCKY NEXT WEEK.  DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS ON HOW TO GET THE SIDE-BY-SIDE RACING AND PASSING BETTER? “You need to have somebody that can’t figure it out.  In F1 they had to basically create passing zones with different tires and the wings opening and things like that.  I think you are going to have to get more drastic than some side skirts and things like that.  The cars are very dependent upon the aerodynamics to just go around the corner and you put them right on the edge.  As soon as you drop the green flag you have turbulent air around every car that is not leading.  I don’t believe it will be that simple, maybe it is. I hope it is.  I don’t think anybody knows the 100 percent right answer.” THE ROAD COURSE RINGERS THAT COME IN… “Are there any?” I THINK THERE ARE A FEW BORIS SAID IS BACK IN IT.  THERE IS A LOT OF HYPE ABOUT THESE GUYS BUT THEY NEVER REALLY PRODUCE RESULTS COMPARED TO THE REGULARS.  WHY IS THAT? “You can’t race these cars once or twice a year and be competitive because they are hard to drive.  In order to get the speed out of them they are not like a Grand-Am car or something with a lot of downforce, or something with sequential shifters, these cars are just hard to drive.  I think a lot of people that come in and have driven the cars will tell you that.  I think the road race guys will tell you that.  Most of them now a days because everybody is so good they don’t get the quality of rides that they used to get because everybody is competitive.  They are just hard cars to drive and you are not going to be competitive if you do it a couple of times a year.” WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE HENDRICK DYNAMIC RIGHT NOW WITH THE THREE GUYS WHO HAVE WON THE RACES AND JEFF GORDON WHO HASN’T, AS A DRIVER, HOW WOULD A DYNAMIC LIKE THAT WITHIN A TEAM AFFECT YOU IF YOUR TEAMMATES HAD WON AND YOU HADN’T? “I think the No. 24 has probably run better or as good as the No. 88.  I think the No. 88 has probably been the most consistent throughout the year.  When your around this sport long enough and you’ve driven long enough and you know that sometimes you go through, Jeff’s (Gordon) has been in it long enough he has been through spells of bad luck.  You will do nothing different tomorrow and you will win a race and you will win four or five more and not do anything different.  It’s just a game of streaks and you have to manage the down time so that your team doesn’t fall apart and you continue to progress forward.  I don’t think that will be a problem for Jeff (Gordon) he has been through a lot of that.”
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