HARVICK IS VICTORIOUS AT CHARLOTTE
TRIO OF CHEVROLET SS RACE CARS TAKE TOP THREE SPOTS IN WILD COCA-COLA 600
CHARLOTTE, NC – May 26, 2013 – In a 10-lap shootout to the finish, Kevin Harvick held off Kasey Kahne to bring his No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet SS home for the win ahead of Kahne’s No. 5 Time Warner Cable SS. It was Harvick’s 21st NASCAR Sprint Cup career win, his second of the 2013 season, and also his second time to visit Victory Lane at the Coca-Cola 600. The win also moved Havick up three places in the series standings to 7th place overall.
The bizarre 400 lap/600 mile race was marred by three red flag interruptions to clear debris and nylon rope from a fallen FOX television camera and repair the damaged cars.
Kahne, who took fluids for flu-like symptoms prior to the start of the race, had the fastest car in the field and led the race for 161 laps. But he was left with worn tires when he didn’t pit on the last stop prior to the final restart, giving Harvick the advantage to take the low side and get by Kahne.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/Sealy Chevrolet SS rallied back from electrical problems, and finished third; giving Team Chevy the top three finishing spots.
Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevy SS and Tony Stewart, No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, finished the race in 6th and 7th place, respectively. That gave the Bowtie Brigade five of the top 10 in the final order.
Jimmie Johnson, five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, was caught in a multi-car accident, yet managed to bring his No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevy SS in for a 22nd place finish. Johnson continues to maintain the point lead and holds a 32-point advantage over second place.
The next stop on the tour is Dover International Speedway in Delaware on June 2, 2013.
Kevin Harvick, Gil Martin (Crew Chief), and Richard Childress (Team Owner) No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet SS – Winner
THE MODERATOR: Let’s roll into our post‑race winning team. Our race winner is Kevin Harvick. He’s joined by his owner Richard Childress, and crew chief Gil Martin. This is his second victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He also won the 2011 Coca‑Cola 600. I understand on Thursday of this week, you presented the fire suit from that victory to some soldiers at Fort Bragg, certainly a great tribute to some of the men and women that protect our country.
Let’s talk about this race. It was quite a race here tonight. Had a little bit of everything in it. Just talk about how you were able to get that 29 Budweiser into Victory Lane.
KEVIN HARVICK: You know, coming into this particular race, it’s going to be a long night, you’re going to have to survive. We had some strange circumstances with the cable. With this particular car, obviously you don’t know where the balance is going to start with the temperature being a little bit lower this week. I think the swing was a little bit less than what it normally is.
Just a great night. Gil made a great call at the end, we were able to put ourselves in position and survive until the point of when it was time to go.
THE MODERATOR: Gil Martin, a big call there that last caution going down pit road. Talk about the thought process and maybe how the 29 seemed to get better and better as the race went along.
GIL MARTIN: At the end of the race we probably had 12 different scenarios that we were trying to play out. Everybody started getting on a different sync as far as we were going to have to pit around the 368 mark. Cautions kept happening, we new some were going to be able to go later. We had scenarios for that trying to get two.
When the final caution came out, I thought we needed to come. It was a no‑brainer. I know Kevin did, too, because of the fact that the cars were going to be better on the restart, especially getting through the first couple corners, being able to run wide open with cold tires. It worked out good.
THE MODERATOR: Richard, certainly this race team has put on a great show here today for one of our biggest races, Memorial Day weekend. I know how much the military means to your organization. But talk about winning this race.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Gil said it. He made a great call there at the end. Kevin was really digging all day long. This is a grueling race. That’s what it’s meant to be. He set there and just dug and dug and dug and come through. To win this race on a special weekend like this, Memorial Day weekend, is very special for all of our troops, all of their families.
Today I texted Jim Campbell and congratulated him for a Chevy winning at Indy, having a great day. I texted him back and said, We’ll win for you tonight. We kept our word.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll go ahead and take questions.
Q. Kevin, the bizarre TV cable thing, did you see that? How does that mess up your momentum?
KEVIN HARVICK: Hell, the first time I drove by I said, Hell, my career is over, my eyes have taken a crap. I saw this streak go by me. What in the hell was that?
I always have this thing with my eyes. It’s one of the biggest things we have as drivers. You got to believe in your eyes. I tell myself, You got to believe what you saw.
I got to the start/finish line, I eased off the gas, I knew what I had seen the lap before, I was hoping it wasn’t my last race, I was hoping what I saw was right. I let off at the start/finish line, there was that black streak again. I was looking for it. You could see the cable hanging down.
Strange. Hope everybody is okay. We all wrecked in 2001 going into turn one at the All‑Star Race and unloaded our backup car. We’ve been in a couple strange instances here at Charlotte. You just want to get everything fixed.
I’m glad that NASCAR was able to let the guys fix their cars that were involved in it to try to get back to where they were to be competitive.
Q. Kevin, other than the cable incident, talk about the craziness of the night with all the accidents.
KEVIN HARVICK: This is one of those nights you just know going into it you got to grind away lap after lap, just keep yourself on the lead lap, not make any mistakes. As you get towards the end of the race, you want to be more aggressive as you get onto pit road, get into your pit box.
Early in the race, a pit road penalty, a mistake in general, is going to cost you and you’re going to be trying to catch up all night. The more you can keep yourself in position to not make a mistake, maybe give up a spot or two here or there to keep your position is okay.
As we came down to the end, it came down to a restart. We had the track position when the 78 had their problem. We were the leader. We saw that the 5 was able to really go on the restarts. We were tight. Gil made a good adjustment on the car. We were better. I wish we would have had one more stab at it to make it even better yet.
In the end it was good enough to win the race. That’s all that matters.
Q. I think it was 18 laps to go, Kahne passed you. He looked strong. Did you think it was over at that
KEVIN HARVICK: You know, we all pitted there probably about that same time, about 20 laps to go. I could see him. Heck, the last race we won here, we came off of turn two in third. By the time we got back to the start/finish line, we had won the race.
It’s never over until it’s over. You just
have to keep driving the car as hard as you can. When we had the caution come out, that’s a whole different ballgame with a short run like that. Obviously the best car didn’t put tires on, and we were able to capitalize on that.
I felt when we came out second, everybody had done their job. They were all like five‑year‑old kids looking at me as a snack. It’s like, Don’t screw this up, Bud. You’re in control of this race. Don’t let somebody get under you, because at that point we were in complete control.
Q. You’ve won two of the last four races. Stewart‑Haas is running like a bag of ass. Are you regretting the decision you made?
KEVIN HARVICK: You look at what we’re doing and we’re focused on this year. We go out and race week‑to‑week, do the things that we do to try to win races, win a championship. Whatever happens in the future, we’ll work on some other time. Right now we’re working on winning next week’s race, no matter who is running like a bag of ass (smiling).
Q. Gil, you talked about there was probably a dozen different scenarios you were thinking about at the end. Was one of them actually the leader stay out and everyone else decides to pit, including the people who had just pitted a couple laps previously?
GIL MARTIN: Well, no. I really think we had to have our own strategy because we were in a different fuel window. There were four or five of us in the same fuel window. The guys behind us were in a completely different deal.
We needed to get those two tires because I think heads up our car wasn’t as good as the 5 car. We definitely needed to get tires at that point. When they didn’t brake to come down pit road, I felt like that gave us a chance to have equal cars with them because they were very strong all night long.
Q. Richard, separation in this business isn’t always an easy thing. You have to be impressed with Kevin’s dedication, the way he’s come out even with the impending change.
KEVIN HARVICK: I want to answer that first.
It’s not just “Kevin.” This is something that he and I sat down and talked about as men and just have really focused on what’s most important for our sponsors and the guys on this team and this organization. That’s the most important thing.
It’s too important to the people that put in hours and hours and hours, the people that put in millions and millions of dollars.
Sorry to interrupt.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: You know, we’re in a business world. In a business world things happen, changes happen. You do everything you can in the business world. Like I told Kevin, I wish him the best of luck at the end of the year, but right now we got a job in front of us.
I honestly think RCR is ready to contend for the championship this year. We have Kevin and Paul both up there. We’re getting better. Eric Warren has come along and put together a great group of people. Our engine shop keeps getting better and better.
I really feel that we got a chance to contend for the championship.
Q. Kevin, I’m assuming you knew when you came off of pit lane that Kasey didn’t have tires. Did you just have to put yourself in that frame of mind?
KEVIN HARVICK: The only frame of mind I was in was, Don’t screw up. I knew they put me in the best position to win the race. You don’t want to make a mistake on the restart.
I knew the biggest mistake I was going to make on that restart was the same mistake, I don’t remember who, but they were trying to time it to the restart lines. Kasey was having a tough time getting going on the restarts. I needed to time it to the start/finish line so I could carry the momentum into turn one, not put three‑wide, we could keep the guy on the outside at bay by being fast enough into turn one.
Kasey was having a lot of trouble on the restarts, spinning the tires. That was the thing I didn’t want to do, was time it to the restart line, have to check up, have the guys behind me get a run. That was really the most important thing.
Q. Kevin, you’ve won this race two out of the last three years, not really dominating the race. Can you philosophically talk about that? Things have worked for you here.
KEVIN HARVICK: We backed into 21 of them, so things are looking up.
GIL MARTIN: He just likes that parking spot he gets for his motorhome. That’s why he wants to keep winning.
KEVIN HARVICK: It’s free water (smiling).
It’s not any fault of these guys. It’s kind of the nature of who is sitting in the seat. I like to just take my time and put myself in a position at the end of the race. I think a lot of that comes from growing up, and when we raced, because you had to race next week. The only way to race the next week was to win enough prize money the week before so you could buy tires, whatever the case may be, to race.
My dad, anybody I ever drove for before, would probably tell you the same thing. I’m not going to burn my car up in the first half of the race, go out and show off basically. That’s what happens at the beginning of the race.
Obviously you want to run as fast as you can, but it really doesn’t matter until the end. We backed into a few of them.
Q. Richard, that 78 group has really run well the last three or four weeks. Can you relate to their frustrations of getting close and not winning?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I was listening to Kurt tonight. They put together, Barney, a great team. They were right there all night long. He ran in the top five.
The battery cable came off, is what I understand happened. He came unplugged. Unfortunate. But they did a great job. We’re all working really close together. Our engines are running really well. I couldn’t be more proud of our whole organization and what the 78 brings to the table. They also bring something to the table, as well.
KEVIN HARVICK: To follow up on that a little bit.
Listening to Kurt Busch in the meetings is something that adds to our team. Not taking anything away from Todd, all the guys working on the car. But the way that Kurt drives, hard, he has good feedback. To me that’s been the thing that really has helped the 78 car become relevant for RCR and myself, is you can go over and talk to him and look at his data, and it’s real and it’s fast. It has really helped what we’ve been doing.
Q. Richard, you’ve now won the Coca‑Cola 600 five times. This victory comes on the 20th anniversary of your last win with Dale here when y’all swept the All‑Star Race and the 600. What does that mean to you?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It’s special. I didn’t realize it was the 20th anniversary. But we had some great wins with Dale Earnhardt here, Winston back in the day, the shootout, the night races under the lights.
Any time you win at Charlotte, you win a grueling 4 hour, 30 minute race, it’s special. I can still today remember the races we won with Dale. Every one of them was special. The night that Kevin won over here, that was special.
The day that you quit thinking that a race is special to win, you better go home and pack it up.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations to Kevin Harvick, to Gil Martin and Richard Childress for winning the 2013 Coca‑Cola 600.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 TIME WARNER CABLE CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED SECOND
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by our second‑place finisher, Kasey Kahne. Kasey is currently sitting fifth in points. Talk a little bit about your run tonight.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, we had a great ca
r from the drop of the green. Just drove to the front from sixth. Felt really good throughout the race. There were a couple times when I thought Matt might have been a little better than me, but not much. We adjusted and were quicker than him again.
It was definitely our race to lose, especially those last hundred laps. We just thought that some of the guys would stay out. I think there’s three cars that just pitted within the last couple laps, five or six laps, just felt like they’d stay out and that would be a big enough buffer to someone who had two or four tires that we could get away. Didn’t happen.
Harvick started with two, he held it flat. I got a little free, had to back off the gas. When I went back down, he was in front of me. That was the end of our race. Just made sure we got second from there.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up for questions for Kasey.
Q. Kasey, are you feeling better now?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah. I actually felt pretty good the whole race. As soon as I got in the car, was the best I felt all day. Took some IV packs before the driver’s meetings. Once they kicked in, it was the best I felt.
That break wasn’t a bad thing for me.
Q. The takeaway from this. Do you look at it as a disappointing night because you didn’t win or a good night because you were strong all night?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, I feel really confident with my team after a performance like tonight. They were just on it the entire time. The calls that Kenny made, the adjustments, the way the car was balanced throughout the race, that came from yesterday’s practice. I feel great about all that stuff, I have all year.
This is the third time we’ve been to a mile and a half, I ran second, have been the fastest car at all three of them, but just didn’t get the wins. We just got beat.
I feel like we were the best car in all three of them. I feel really good about that. We need a little more at the very end and make sure we can win a couple of these.
Q. Can you talk about the flow of the night, the cable, maybe between the red flag. Was that a distraction and impact the way the race went?
KASEY KAHNE: I thought the cable was unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it. I came around turn four, saw it wrapped around Kyle’s car, hit mine. I thought I was seeing things, there’s no way there could be a cable on the racetrack.
By the time we got to turn one, I saw Kyle’s car, his fender, his car went down, like it jerked it down. I never saw anything like it. I knew I wasn’t seeing things. I was yelling at him going down the backstretch. We came back around and people were still hitting it.
I was surprised there wasn’t a caution a little bit quicker when you have something like that hanging. It was very surprising.
The other red, that’s just part of racing. Sometimes there’s big enough wrecks you have to go red and give the guys enough space to work on everything safely.
Q. Last week you talked about the fact in the 10‑lap shootout in the end when somebody was in front there was no way to get by them with four fresh tires. Tonight Harvick had the two, you didn’t. Was there anything in the last run you thought you would be able to get higher or lower to get a shot at him?
KASEY KAHNE: I knew I was in trouble because my tires were hot. He had cold right sides. That’s a big deal. I easily beat Matt earlier in the race with that same thing. He drove away once he got the lead.
If I had a car last week as good as I had tonight, I would have definitely run with Jimmie for those last 10 laps. Would have been a heck of a race.
The car was so much better tonight. The guys did an awesome job to get it where it was. It drove basically perfect for 600 miles. That’s tough to do.
THE MODERATOR: Kasey, thank you.
KASEY KAHNE: Thank you.
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING/SEALY CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED THIRD
THE MODERATOR: We’ll get started with our post race press conference. We welcome Kurt Busch, our third‑place finisher.
Kurt, a lot of challenges out there for you tonight. Talk about your evening here at Charlotte.
KURT BUSCH: Well, it was a good 550 miles it seemed like for us, then the normal something has to pop up, some adversity we have to overcome came about. It came about this week in a dead battery.
I don’t know, I’m a little shell shocked still, trying to find the exact words because I’m always judged on my reaction instead of my actual performance. So watch this.
It was a great run for our Furniture Row guys. We did the best we could with 600 miles, solid pit stops. The car was a little tight here, a little loose there. All in all, brought it home third. So congratulations to Harvick. They’re teammates of ours. It’s great to see information bridge over.
Happy for those guys to win. We got third. That’s a good points night.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll take questions.
Q. I know it must be frustrating to finish third. Once you get past the emotion of the evening, go to the team meetings, does this come away as a strong positive and another building block? You have as many top-fives in this season as the team had in its entire existence before this year.
KURT BUSCH: That’s been my struggle, not looking too far ahead and being frustrated with the night’s events. Like when we rolled over at Talladega, to be upset in the infield care center, all that. It’s tough when it happens. Then Tuesday you’re over it and you move on.
Like you said, the team meetings will be a great time to discuss this weekend and the speed that we had, the overall showing. You don’t get paid by driver ratings, you get paid by where you finish.
Yeah, a top five is great. To be up front, to lead laps, that’s what it’s all about. So we’ll get these little hiccups polished up and continue plugging forward. That’s the only thing we can do, is learn from what exactly happened, was it a cable issue, a battery that was dead, was the alternator not charging.
To show our strength tonight, to finish third, we’ll take it. I think that’s what needs to be said. The Furniture Row team was fast and we didn’t quite have a perfect night and we brought it home third.
THE MODERATOR: Kurt, thank you very much for your time.
KURT BUSCH: Thank you.
HARVICK IS VICTORIOUS AT CHARLOTTE