News & Media


Six Pack of Pop: Harvick willing to take risks for first Cup title

October 11, 2011, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com

With more free time looming and his wife's racing in the past, focus is on Chase

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, answers this week's six questions.

1. Sitting second in the points heading into this Saturday night's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, how do you see this championship battle shaping up?

"She only spun out three times. I had to tell the flag man to go fly a kite because they had a three-spin rule. I said, 'No, I don't think so. She's going to keep going and finish this race and then we'll be done with this.'"

--KEVIN HARVICK

Harvick: It's so competitive today. There are so many cars that can win races that you've got to go out sometimes and take chances. And if you're off, then you're a 15th-place car. And that just makes it hard to be right every week. It used to be you could be a couple tenths [of a second] off and still get a seventh-, eighth-, or ninth-place finish. If you're off now, you've got to try to use strategy to get up there -- because there are probably 25 guys every week that could win the race, and you could end up being that 25th-place guy.

2. What exactly do you mean by "taking chances?"

Harvick: You have to take chances from every side -- whether it's the crew chief sitting on the pit box, the tire changer hoping he gets half of the fifth lug nut on there, the jackman dropping the jack at just the right time, or knowing that you're four laps short [on fuel] and telling the driver to save some gas and hoping you save enough. ... I know I can save lots of gas. That never worries me. But can I save four? I'm not going to sit here and say I can save four laps of gas without a caution.

But at this time of year, you've got to let the crew chief call the race. You're never happy when he tells you to come in and all of a sudden on a restart you're back there with a bunch of guys you haven't even seen all day. But sometimes then you go back to the shop on Monday and learn more about the way a scenario played out, and you realize he made the call that was best. ... I think everybody is going to have to make some of those decisions down the stretch here.

3. Do you like that aspect of racing, playing strategies like the fuel-mileage game?

Harvick: Some weeks you like it and some weeks you don't. You just want the best finish out of a race that you can. This sport has always been about strategies, and who can build the fastest, lightest car. ... I like strategies. I like looking at numbers, things like that, and trying to out-think the other guy. I like trying to out-do the next guy, do something you're not supposed to be able to do -- whether it's saving gas or saving tires or whatever the case may be.

4. Does the fact that you won last May's Coca-Cola 600 -- your first win in a points race at Charlotte Motor Speedway-- change your opinion of the place you've admitted has not been one of your favorite tracks?

Harvick: We've definitely run better here over the last couple of years, and for us that's a huge step. In the past, it's just been a place where we've come and just wanted to survive, maybe come out of it with a top-10. ... It seems like we've gotten better every time and hopefully that win will keep everybody happy as we get started [this weekend].

5. What are you and your wife, DeLana, going to do with all your free time when you end the ownership run of Kevin Harvick Inc. in the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series at the end of this year?

Harvick: I think what we're going to do with that unknown amount of time that we're going to gain back in our lives will evolve as we go through the first few months of the year next year and see what we do with it. I don't think we've really figured that out yet.

6. Any chance of DeLana replacing the injured Katie Kenseth in the Better Half Dash coming up this weekend at CMS?

Harvick: We had that conversation. She went through her race-car mode in about 2000. She had a late-model stock car and she got to go onto the track and race and do the things she thought she wanted to do. Look, the [wives and girlfriends] are just as competitive as we are -- and you saw what that competitiveness gets you sometimes [when Kenseth wrecked and injured herself during a practice session for the Better Half Dash]. So we'll watch this time.

She did pretty good [back in 2000]. She only spun out three times. I had to tell the flag man to go fly a kite because they had a three-spin rule. I said, 'No, I don't think so. She's going to keep going and finish this race and then we'll be done with this.' I think she gained a new respect 11 years ago of what actually goes on during these races. They had a red flag and she couldn't reach the switches, so her dad had to run out onto the track and turn the switches off for her. It was pretty entertaining, to tell you the truth.