THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on the win, Kevin. We’ll go straight to questions for you.
Q. What does it mean for you to finally knock Pocono off your list here?
KEVIN HARVICK: Everybody from Stewart-Haas Racing has done a great job. We’ve had really fast cars every time we’ve come to Pocono, just hadn’t got to Victory Lane. It was definitely awesome to get to Victory Lane today with our Busch Beer Ford. Proud of all the men and women at Stewart-Haas Racing for everything they’re doing right now. We’re bringing really fast racecars to the racetrack under really tough circumstances. The best part is we’re capitalizing on them, getting to Victory Lane. So definitely proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas.
Q. With Denny catching you in the closing laps, did you have to do anything differently at all?
KEVIN HARVICK: I had to clear the lap cars. Lost the lead catching the lap cars entering into the corner. Hurt my momentum all the down the straightaways. Tried to break the draft a little bit.
With him that close in my tire tracks, I knew I just didn’t need to make a mistake. I just needed to hit marks and then he’d have a tough time back there.
Q. What is it going to be like to have to come back in the same car tomorrow, no celebration after the race?
KEVIN HARVICK: I’m not doing any more celebrations with nobody out there to celebrate with. Until the fans come back, I’m not doing a burnout, standing on the car, doing any of that stuff. It doesn’t feel right not having my team in Victory Lane. Doesn’t feel right with all the emotions from the fans to share your emotion, all the things you have from being inside the racecar and being excited about everything that was going on from winning the race. You come out to silence.
We miss the fans. I miss my team being able to be right in there with us because those are the guys and gals that are making it happen. It’s tough to give an elbow bump or wave at them. I didn’t even see Rodney after the race. He’s probably back on the hauler trying to figure out how he’s going to make the car better tomorrow. That’s how he’s wired.
Definitely a strange time not being able to share all the excitement.
Q. Does winning today change the approach at all for tomorrow?
KEVIN HARVICK: No, we had great practice today being 20th (laughter). As you look at the track position, we were able to overcome that with the right strategy. In the end I think that’s what it’s going to boil down to. You’re going to have to have the right strategy tomorrow. We’ve had the fastest car here a number of times. It’s just how the cautions fall, how the strategies work out. Today it worked in our favor. We had a fast car to go along with it.
I think it’s the same deal tomorrow. I think you got to have good restarts. They’re short races and short stages. At some point you have to decide do you want to race for the win, do you want to race for the stage wins. I think today Rodney definitely showed we were here to try to win a race with the strategy. A lot of that was dictated by how we ran at the beginning of the race.
Q. You talked a couple of times about these challenging times. Has Stewart-Haas had it more difficult probably because of the couple COVID-19 positives in the shop?
KEVIN HARVICK: Look, there’s a lot to navigate right now. I think that’s the way things are structured. I haven’t talked to anybody about the specifics other than what you guys know.
I think that the structure that the race team has with the shifts of the people, the contact tracing, everything that we have, it’s definitely been put into play to make sure that you limit everything from other people’s exposure. They’ve done a great job with it. It’s inevitable that it’s going to happen, it’s just how you manage it.
Q. You’ve been in this game for almost 20 years now. When you have a situation like Pocono where you have not won up to this point, do you think about that? Does that weigh on your mind when you come back?
KEVIN HARVICK: As well as we’ve run here, you definitely talk about it. For us, it was kind of one of those things where you joke around about it. We’ve run plenty good enough to win races here. It’s kind of like Texas. We finally knocked down that wall and won three years in a row. Hopefully that’s the same trend that happens here at Pocono.
It’s definitely been a place that we’ve lost some wins and could have been to Victory Lane several times. Just a matter of this or that happening.
Today was just like the last seven years here: run well, been in contention to win. The only difference today is we ended up on top.
It doesn’t bother me because we run well. If we were coming here and not running well, just a place that you didn’t like driving at. But I enjoy coming up here, I enjoy the racetrack, I enjoy the challenge that it creates. We’ve run well. When you run well, that kind of takes away all the chatter about not liking a place or being frustrated.
Q. The only other places you have not won is Kentucky and the Roval. Do you want to get wins in there before you call it a career?
KEVIN HARVICK: I want to win everywhere. So yeah, for sure.
Q. You’ve been doing this at the highest level for half your life now. What is your perspective on this moment for NASCAR? You had a little bit of a setback with the folks in the shop, there’s been this tremendous solidarity behind Bubba, everything that’s going on around him right now. How would you describe this moment for the sport from all different perspectives?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think the one thing that the world is seeing is the fact that this is a very tight-knit community. Whether it was Dale Earnhardt’s death or everything that we have going on in our country from corona to all the different social things that are going on, this is a unified group of people.
When you look at the group of people that are in this garage, a lot of us have been around each other for half of our life. You know most of the people in the garage. You know the character of the people in this garage, the character of people in the sport. It’s a sport that is built around families. This is a place I love bringing my kids. This is a place I love seeing other people’s kids. This is a place that I love seeing the fans’ kids. That’s been very much in the forefront with the things that have gone on in our sport.
Last week we all stood down there together. I can think of a number of different situations that you could put together something like that, you could show those moments, show the world that there may be a lot of chatter outside of what’s going on in our garage. But the people in this garage are together. We all want to see racing succeed. We want to see NASCAR succeed. We want to see each other succeed.
We are all very competitive. All the team owners want to beat each other. All the drivers want to beat each other. In the end, this is the most giving, good-natured group of people that you can ask for in sports. There’s no way around that.
I think when you look at it from a charitable standpoint, from a unity standpoint, these are just good, down-to-earth people that love to race. We love what we do. We’ll do what we have to do to make things happen.
NASCAR and the teams have done a great job to safely put our sport back on the racetrack and get it done.
Q. Pocono Raceway has moved the compounding down compared to last year. How did that help you coming through the field?
KEVIN HARVICK: Strategy definitely got us most of it. From a driver standpoint, definitely gave you more options. I like what they did. I think the traction compound was definitely better. Where they put it this time, very usable early on in the race. Just gave you an option. You could run the bottom very well next to the line. The fastest lane became two and a half lanes up the racetrack.
As a driver, that’s what you want, right? You want options. On the restart, you don’t want to be penalized on the outside. You saw the leader taking the outside. You don’t want to see the inside guys so penalized they go to the back.
You want options. I know as a sport, we’ve been working hard to make racing as good as possible. I think the traction compound definitely did its job here.
Q. Tomorrow there will be a couple of races on the compound before you get on the track. Do you think it will be less effective tomorrow?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think it’s not super hot. I think you’ll probably have to move up. I think you’ll see that traction compound get even wider than what it was today. I still think you’ll definitely have some opportunity to use it, especially on the restarts.
Q. Talk about the last pit stop.
KEVIN HARVICK: For me, I didn’t really exactly know where we were going to come out. I know we got a really good restart, were able to get a huge gap on the guys that were on our cycle. When it did all cycle around, that gap that we got on the restart, were able to get before. Several of those cars pitted way before us. On Denny, really was the gap that we had at the end.
That all started on the restart, getting around those cars really quickly, being able to get some clean air, get out there as far as possible with Aric. Even after he pitted, able to run some really good laps.
Rodney put two tires on. We were able to take advantage of that and milk it all the way to the end.
Q. All three of your wins have some since the season restarted. Talk about how it speaks to your organization and your team to be able to produce results given the circumstances. With your teammates performing better, Aric was talking more about feeling they’re on par with your team now.
KEVIN HARVICK: I think experience of our team definitely plays a huge role. I think the experience of our organization plays a bigger role. We have a boss who has been through a lot of different situations that the company has had to navigate in order to move things around, change things, do a lot of things when Tony had his accidents. There were those types of situations where we had to put different drivers in the car. It was definitely not easy.
I think when you look at a company that is able to navigate those types of times, this is a very similar situation with the same group of people. You listen to the things that are happening, the way the shop has to be organized and work, it’s difficult.
To be able to take this quality of cars to the racetrack is definitely a huge credit to everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. I know Aric has run really well the last few weeks. That’s what we need. We need all four cars to perform well. When that happens, it pushes everybody to be better quicker. You have things that you can really detail out.
I think as we get to the middle of the season here, I hope that all four cars make the same progression that Aric’s car has made. I know Clint has run well. We got to get Cole running a little bit better.
When all four cars are running well, it’s just better for everybody. Things just keep getting better when you can have the whole company performing well.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time. Congratulations on the win today. Good luck tomorrow.
KEVIN HARVICK: Awesome. Thank you, guys.