Ford Performance NASCAR: Kevin Harvick Phoenix Media Availability

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KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang – WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET KNOWING THE PRESSURE IS OFF?  “I think it transfers over to thinking about this race next year.  I think it’s the first step in a process of kind of putting Phoenix at a different level for us as far as preparation, the things that we do that come with that, so that when we come back we have a firm understanding of where our simulation and things are for this particular race track and start that process going in the first race and the second race for next year.  So it’s obviously been a great race track for us, but we’ve never actually had that type of preparation as we’ve gone into that, knowing that the championship is here next year I think it kind of moves into a different category as far as the things that we’re going to do.”

HAVE YOU GIVEN ANY THOUGHT TO THE OTHER DRIVER WHO MAY BE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP 4 AND WHAT THEIR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES ARE?  “I have not.”

ARE THERE ASPECTS OF YOUR TEAM YOU’RE TRYING TO SHORE UP BEFORE HOMESTEAD OR ARE YOU JUST ROLLING WITH WHAT YOU HAVE?  “I think it’s been a very interesting year for us.  I think as you look at our year it’s been a challenge in order to get where we are today, just to battle through the beginning of the year and get the ship turned around and in the right direction and really figure out exactly where we needed to be, what we needed to be doing, just totally different concepts than the things that we’ve done in the past and just those new concepts mindsets the way that you race, the way that you call a race, all those things that come together.  I think the strength and experience of our race team has kind of carried the results that are in the finish column and the stages won and stage points and those types of things.  As we went through the late summer and in the playoffs I feel like we obviously have got our cars back to being competitive and when I say competitive I mean able to lead laps without circumstances, and so we’ve been able to do that and so as long as we keep doing those types of things next week I think that you’ve got to be in it to win it and just have to see how it falls.”

DOES THE WIN LAST WEEK COMPLETELY FREE YOU UP TO DO THAT OR WOULD YOU STILL HAVE DONE THAT?  “It would have been the same because that’s just how I guess we’re wired.  You have to think about what you’re doing a long ways in advance.  It’s from scheduling from a car’s standpoint with less cars next year, the types of race tracks, simulators, all those things have a schedule that’s attached to them.  For me and my team it’s not something you want to try to do six weeks in advance.  It’s a process to try to get the most out of everything that you do and have some sort of organization and thought around it in order to go to the simulator and try to make it relevant to what you do at the race track and then your simulation and your aero maps and all those things that come with the things that you do.  The race still has the same meaning and we’re still gonna approach the exact same way that we would have if we hadn’t have won, just because of the fact that that’s just what we do every week and I know you guys have heard me say that we don’t prepare any different whether we win or lose.  We might do things differently to the car as far as setups and the way that they’re built and things like that, but the conversations and preparation are gonna happen on the same days at the same time and you can’t do the type of preparation that you would do for a championship race like this next year overnight, so you have to have a plan.”

DOES NASCAR NEED TO ADDRESS ISSUES OF DRIVERS POSSIBLYL INTENTIONALLY SPINNING OUT TO BRING OUT A CAUTION?  “I haven’t even seen the replay, so I wouldn’t be able to comment on it to see if it was no purpose or not.  I didn’t even watch the race.  I don’t know.  I have enough trouble paying attention to my team.”

IF YOU LOOKED AT SOMEBODY’S DATA WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO TELL IF HE SPUN OUT ON PURPOSE?  “I don’t want to get in the middle of even having a comment on the whole situation.”

YOU SEEM PARTICULARLY SERIOUS TODAY.  WHAT IS IT ABOUT TODAY?  “It’s really the same approach.  It’s an hour before practice so I’m thinking about what we need to do to our car and talking to the guys of the things that we need to go through.  More than anything it’s just really interrupting my routine more than anything.”

IS THERE ANY INTERNAL PRESSURE ON YOU TO KEEP PERFORMING AT THIS LEVEL?  “I think the competitive side of me would tell you yes, just because I don’t really want to race for 20th, and that challenge of like the things we went through this year is definitely somewhat interesting to me because of the fact you have to really get in there with your guys and be a part of the process and routine of things in order to change something.  It’s been challenging, but it’s also been a little intriguing to me just because of the fact you want to try to fix things and make them better and I feel like we’ve done a good job at that, but I think for me being competitive is really the thing that keeps me motivated.  I love the fact that things change so much that you have to be open-minded to change and I always tell the guys in our trailer that you have to be open-minded in this sport or you’ll get left behind.  It’s been fun to win races and be competitive, but it is definitely something that I think about every day.  I want to be competitive and in order to do that sometimes people pay attention to an age or a stat and I hadn’t looked at a stat or watched a race in I can’t even tell you how long because I’m just worried about what we’re doing and trying to get better and really focused on a week to week basis and worry about the rest of it when you get done.”

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH BALANCING THAT MINDSET WITH FAMILY OR THINGS AWAY FROM THE TRACK?  “I would probably never tell you this otherwise, but David Ragan and I have had this exact conversation together as to why he was retiring and he told me the exact same thing and it’s much different.  I feel like I have a great group of people around me that really help handle the sponsors and the situations that we’re involved in on a daily basis and I trust those people – some of them have worked for me for over 20 years – a couple of them for over 12 – so it’s a situation where I have a lot of trust and they know exactly what I expect and how things work.  I have a crew chief who has a family.  I have team members who have families and during the week there’s a lot of texts and a lot of emails and I go to the competition meetings after I drop my son off at school, so everything that we do is prioritized around my family and you’ve seen them at the race track now a lot now that Piper is old enough to go to the race track and sleep normal, so my kids run around the trailer, can’t do that in everybody’s trailer in this garage, it wouldn’t be acceptable, but it’s a very family-oriented situation that I’m in and I think that they understand that if it’s something that I feel like it’s affecting my family to that point, that I probably won’t do it anymore.  So they want them to be around and they would obviously want their kids around if they had the same opportunities to do that.  For me, I feel like we’ve got different opportunities than David.  David was handling the sponsorship and at the shop and making a lot more decisions than I have to make because we’re fortunate to be in a different situation with the right people that you have a lot of trust in and faith in to do those things that he was doing, but he was putting a lot of effort into it.”

ARE YOU SURPRISED YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE TO RACE YOUR WAY INTO MIAMI?  “Actually, I felt like we were in a worse spot last year with all the chaos and the inspection violation and just the team not being here and with Rodney not being here and all the things we had totally disrupted from a great year and the week before the championship race and everything just kind of getting out of sync.  In 2014, everything was in sync.  We had some unfortunate timing of things, but we probably could have won every race in the playoffs, except Martinsville or Talladega if we hadn’t had something go wrong or screwed something up, so I felt like we had everything in place to do that in 2014 at arguably one of our best tracks.  Now knowing that you have it all in place and going out and doing that is different, but we’ve been fortunate to have done that at Dover and Kansas and Phoenix and a lot of places.  Sometimes I feel like our team kind of thrives on those moments and really gets the most out of everything and probably a little bit more just with the way that we’ve been able to achieve in those moments and there’s no better high than that from a competitor’s standpoint and just achieving in those moments when everybody is kind of laughing and thinking that they’ve got you pinned down and out of the game.  The next thing you know they’re out of the game and you’re back in.”

CHASE BRISCOE SAID YOU HAVE MENTORED HIM.  HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT FOR YOU TO HAVE THE ROLE?  “For he and Cole it’s been fun to watch them learn.  Both of those guys are very willing to ask questions and be around and do what they need to do to get better.  A lot of times the things that I tell Chase or Cole may not be the right thing for them, but they’re willing to at least ask the question and try things and if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work, but a lot of times what they do in a race car – and I feel strongly that everybody likes something different in their cars and the things that they do – but the most important thing is for them to understand that they’re a piece to the process working with their crew chief and their team and the things that happen in that communication most of the time sends the organization in a direction of what they work on, so it may not be telling them how to drive the car or what they like in a car.  Sometimes it’s just how the world turns in our sport and the things that change and how you have to communicate.  It’s not just show up and drive.  The car has become more important through the years, but in the end you still send them in a direction of what they need to work on and how they need to make things better and I think that’s important for those young guys to understand, but we have two of the most willing and hard-working XFINITY drivers in the garage.  Those guys bust their butt.”

Campbell Marketing & Communications for Ford Performance

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