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NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Checker Auto Parts 500

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Checker Auto Parts 500, Richard Childress Racing

NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Checker Auto Parts 500

Todd Berrier
Kevin Harvick
November 12, 2006


THE MODERATOR: Kevin Harvick joins us. He swept the races here at Phoenix this year, his fifth victory of the season. He's third in the points heading into Homestead Miami. He's also joined by his crew chief, today barrier. Congratulations, guys. Kevin, talk about winning both races out here at Phoenix and your thoughts as you head into the season finale.
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, we're excited just to be a part of it to tell you the truth. We've had a great year and it's been up-and-down, but for the most part, been really about through the majority of it. So we're just having fun and racing as hard as we can and doing the things that we've done week-in and week-out all year. You know, there's really not a lot of pressure to tell you the truth. It's just go out and go as fast as you can and everybody knows that everybody's could go everything they can do.
So you know, how it falls is how it falls and that's just kind of how we've looked at it since the season started.
THE MODERATOR: Todd, your thoughts, looked like you had the dominant car most of the afternoon. Talk about Kevin and the run that he had today.
TODD BERRIER: This is the same car we ran -- Kevin did an awesome job. He gets around this place well and we were looking forward to him coming here. We knew we had a good shot at being able to win the race today. Got over a lot of things that were going wrong with the battery and all that stuff. When you're lucky, it's just one of those deals it's hard to beat. For him to have the year he's had, winning five Cup races and nine Busch races or whatever, it's just unbelievable. Glad to be a part of it.

Q. When the restart after the red flag, was that planned for you to get a push, or was that a move, in other words, you said, I'll use a certain amount of battery to start this thing, or if I can't roll, I'll get a push and save some battery; was that a planned move?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, obviously you can't get a very big roll because there's not a lot of banking. They had radioed for the wrecker and didn't want to use the starter just because I flipped the fans on once before just to make sure it wasn't the gauge and lost almost a full -- on the green, it went from I think 12 and a half to 12 or 11 or whatever it was, I don't remember exactly but it lost a hole, so I didn't want to touch anything that had to do with the battery, so I just got the tow truck.

Q. At the end there, looking at the big picture, Jimmy could have been content to finish second, but he pushed it. Were you surprised how much he wanted that victory looking at the big points picture?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think, you know, you -- you ever feel like you're in a fishbowl? This guy's standing in the window. (Laughter) He wants an autograph. (Laughter).
Yeah, well, I knew, you know, at that point, that it was -- you know, we had to win the race and we had to gain the most points and we had to do what we had to do. We had some issues. You know, it wasn't detrimental to what we had going, so we just -- I knew he was going to push me, but I figured he wasn't going to take any unnecessary chances and he was just going to try to see if he could make us make a mistake and flip up enough to where he could get all the way under. Luckily we didn't do that and we were able to keep on going.

Q. Was it the alternator or the battery, or both?
TODD BERRIER: It was the alternator first and then he missed it because his air conditioner was coming on and off and there's a low voltage thing where he gets down below x number of volts and the alternator quit. At that point you hope you could be conserve enough battery to make it happen. This race last year, it went bad earlier and had to put in two alternators to finish the race. We had to put in every caution we could to keep from stopping and having to put a battery in the thing.

Q. Were you worried at all you were not going to be able to finish the race?
KEVIN HARVICK: Absolutely. I know I was and he was. Usually when that happens, it had to be getting some kind of charge because usually when that happens, as soon as you gas the thing on the restart, it goes down to eight or nine, ten volts and starts missing. It didn't go all the way down like that. It just slowly took juice out of the battery and went from 12 or 13 or 12 and a half or whatever it was down to 11 at the end of the race. That's probably why we could not get going on the restarts as good as we could and could not get off Turn 2 on the corners like we needed to. I think that's why it looked like the motor was so much better than the 48 there at the end.

Q. Looking at that screen over there, that shows the points, without a crystal ball, where is the line, what do you see when you look at that?
TODD BERRIER: I don't know if it shows -- inaudible -- all that's doable from our end, just go in there and go as hard as we can and do what we can do. It is what it is. We've all had the same opportunity. 48 is where he is because of his and we are where we are because of ours. We have to capitalize on where we are and there's nothing we can do about it at this point.

Q. What's realistic in one race --
KEVIN HARVICK: I know we've lost a hundred in some.
TODD BERRIER: I think we went from being 35 at one time to being 60 or 70 back. It can happen and obviously you know -- if it was to happen, we'd have to be on top of our game to make sure we capitalize on it.

Q. Other than the alternator problem, was this car as good as the one you had here in April?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think it was better. You know, in April, we had a good car. Just we're really good on the long runs and today we're really good at the beginning of the run and through the middle of the run and we made our car better on the long run as we were able to make adjustments. I would say the thing that threw us for the bigger loop today is when the alternator went out and we had to shut the fans off and had to pay more attention to the front brakes and front tires so we had to loosen our car up more than we would have it if all that stuff was working. I think it was better. What do you think?
TODD BERRIER: I'm sure it was better.

Q. Kevin, you were running away with it -- inaudible -- were you running your own race and not worrying about it?
KEVIN HARVICK: I wanted to run as fast as I could go and get out as far as I could go. I thought if we went a whole fuel run, he might be able to catch us because traffic was so hard to get through because guys don't want to get lapped. When you're that far into the run, it's really hard to pass.
So I wanted to get as far out as I could and I wasn't worried about brakes. I wasn't worried about tires or anything. You know, there was a couple points where you know, I could see that we were a fair ways ahead and there was nothing in front of us and that's when I tried to save a little bit, just getting into the corner just a little bit brake-wise. All in all, it's a pretty short race.

Q. You said you'd lost 100 points in a race before, but to you guys, does it look like the 48 has the look of a winner at this point?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, they wouldn't be. At the point they are not the winners. Obviously they have had a great year and like all of us, they have had slumps that they got through and come out of. They came out of the last slump swinging, so they done a really good job all year and making their stuff better. You know, we all try to make our stuff better, but they were down pretty good there for five or six weeks and they came out like gangbusters, so they have done a good job.

Q. Todd today, your thoughts about the difference in this year's team compared to last year?
TODD BERRIER: Same group of people, but obviously, you start your season this year and you start having things hitting on higher notes, obviously everybody has a better attitude the better you do. At the end, it does show promise when things do go bad or don't go the way you want and they know what you can't have so they start digging really hard, not that they didn't before. When they go through a year like last year and then a year like this year, it's just attitude, all of the guys are jacked up and getting on a roll and could do the things we've done. Obviously it's going to carry into this year as well. It's all about momentum and all about attitude and that's the biggest thing we've got going.

Q. Todd brought up the topics of wins, and NASCAR hinted that they might be tweaking the points system. Would you like to see more points for wins?
TODD BERRIER: It is what is it. It's all the same. Everybody's got an opinion.
KEVIN HARVICK: Really, it's something to where we wouldn't even notice from our standpoint just because I think Todd and I are the same, we just don't look at that stuff. It's the same every year and they made it more this year. They are going to do what they think they need to do and we'll all race by those rules.
It's hard to tell. I think if you finish 43, you should be not rewarded for finishing bad or not giving points, or I think you should -- you know, it should result in your points effort that you finish poorly. This isn't football or baseball and your record doesn't stand up on the board. It's something to where if you have a bad race, that has to reflect because we're racing against 43 guys every week, it's not just one.

Q. You've been in a lot of championship situations, just yourself in Jimmy John's shoes, what does he have to do to win?
KEVIN HARVICK: I'd stay away from everybody and just run 43 if it was me. (Laughter) No, I'm just kidding.
It's a lot of pressure. There's a lot on the line. You know, it's something that where it seems like everything you've done all year comes down to one race. You know, I think obviously, they have had a great year and we've had a great year and everybody in the Top-10 has had a fairly good year. You know, it will probably be a long week for him. He probably won't sleep much. He probably will try to keep his mind off of things doing other things. That's what I would do. Avoid the Internet, avoid the newspaper, avoid the radio, and all interviews. (Laughter) I'm just kidding.

Q. Do you find it ironic at all, or weird at all that none of the Chase guys really had a bad day today considering the way the series has gone?
KEVIN HARVICK: All I know is the 48 finished second. To be honest with you, and I'm not trying to be a smart alec, I had not even looked at it to tell you the truth.

Q. Carl Edwards at fifth --
KEVIN HARVICK: That doesn't surprise me. That's something, all of us are there, it seems like every week heading into the Chase, you have eight out of ten guys you're racing against in the same spot. It seems like that group other than a couple having trouble here and there have been in the Top-10 week-in and week-out.

Q. Is this team poised to be even better next year? I don't want to give up on this year, but it seems to me that as far as RCR came from last year to this year, it seems like you guys certainly have to be among the conversation going into next year as teams to watch for 2007.
KEVIN HARVICK: I think, we talked about it on Monday, we all know that we have to take the same steps next year that we took this year to keep up with everybody and everybody's hard at working on the Car of Tomorrow and trying to make these cars better, you know, and the engines better. We're all trying to get better.
So you have to keep progressing with the sport. I don't know when we raced here, April, first time? We don't have the same car, we don't have the same engine package, we don't have the same setup. That's how fast our sport progresses, and you have to keep up with that to be competitive and we all know that and we're just going to try to keep making it better.
So our team is the same as it's been, for, what, four years for the most part. So I mean, it's the same bunch that we've had and we all know each other really well and get along. When somebody says something that they shouldn't say or everybody doesn't carry it on the shoulders, they just brush it off and it's done with.
So I think our team is good, and you know, it's just a matter of having it all put together and I think absolutely, we can get better, but just having the experience that we've had this year.

Q. With all of the changes at Roush Racing, all of their crew chiefs changing and the 12 has a new crew chief and we know how you weathered the storm with Childers, but what is the secret between that and the chemistry?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think, you know, I've been a part of that. It spurs momentum for a couple of weeks. It says something to have somebody you can get along with, and we didn't choose to have it taken away from us. We chose a different path from what we were granted. It all worked itself out over the next couple of years to many could back together. If the path would have taken as it was planned, we would have never been apart.
So in 2001, obviously things changed and we had to do what was best for everybody else involved, not selfishly for ourselves.
TODD BERRIER: It's hard to build a group of people or relationships or whatever with drivers, swapping things around, it's not something that, again, it does spur momentum, but it's something that you don't mesh overnight. I know by the look on his face when he shows up the day for the race how the day is going to go. That's just a product of being around him and knowing what's going to happen and living through it for a while. That's one of the good things we have going, everybody knows all the same things and there's nothing none of us can hide from each other, because we all know just from our facial expressions what's going on around us how it's going to be. It's hard to build that. Obviously starting over right now, that would be really hard.

Q. How do you feel about this team going into next year? Obviously there was some giant steps taken this year, is there just another small one to take to get you guys to the top?
TODD BERRIER: We need to take as big a step this next year as we can this year. It's still a work-in-progress and there's a million things we put on the list at this time last year that we haven't got to or got handled or done to our satisfaction through the course of this year, so I feel like as a company, we made a major step, but we need to take that same step again and that's where we're working really hard to do that.

Q. A looking back question, but any frustration at the restart yesterday?
KEVIN HARVICK: I don't think so. I think it really helped me today to be honest with you because it opened up my playing field. I didn't understand exactly what I needed to understand yesterday, but I understood it today. That was something that I needed to know and I think helped me at the end of the race.

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