Chevy Racing–NASCAR–Kansas–Post Race

OCTOBER 16, 2016

Chevrolet Locks Second Driver into Round of 8 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup

KANSAS, CITY, Kan. (October 16, 2016) – Kevin Harvick led 74 laps in route to victory in the 267-lap Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway. The win is Harvick’s fourth of the season, and second-career victory at Kansas.

By taking home the trophy from the 1.5-mile track, the 40-year old Bakersfield, California native secures his spot in the next bracket of Chase races advancing to the Round of 8. He joins fellow Team Chevy driver Jimmie Johnson as the only two competitors locked into a position in the next segment of the 10-race Chase playoff as the series heads for Talladega Superspeedway.

Harvick’s victory was the 763rd total victory for Chevrolet in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition and the brands 11th victory at Kansas Speedway, more than any other manufacturer.

Despite a 21st-place qualifying effort, six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson earned a four place finish in the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS after 400 miles of racing at Kansas. Fellow Chevrolet SS Chase contender, Austin Dillon, followed Johnson in the final finishing order coming home sixth in the No. 3 Dow Coating Materials Chevy SS.

Alex Bowman, serving as interim driver for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, rallied back after going two laps down early in the race after contact with the outside wall to earn his best career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish of seventh. AJ Allmendinger brought the No. 47 Dillons Chevrolet SS home eighth, while Kasey Kahne and the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS team earned their seventh consecutive top-12 finish ending the day at Kansas Speedway in the 10th spot, giving Team Chevy six of the top 10 finishers overall.

As the Chase for the Sprint Cup heads to treacherous Talladega Superspeedway next weekend for the final race in the Round of 12, Team Chevy has two of the five Chevrolet SS Chase competitors locked in for advancement via wins (Johnson and Harvick). After a 13th-place finish at Kansas Speedway, Kurt Busch sits fifth in the standings 17 points ahead of the cutoff spot. Dillon overcame the odds after an on-track accident at Charlotte Motor Speedway to rebound at Kansas earning a sixth place finish, the top 10 effort catapulted the No. 3 Chevrolet SS team into the cutoff position tied with Joey Logano for the final spot in the next round of the Chase.

Kansas Speedway was not kind to Rookie of the Year contender Chase Elliott. Elliott led once for a total of four circuits before a tire rub after a pit stop plagued the No. 24 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet SS for the remainder of the event. Elliott was relegated to a 31st place finish after he experienced a flat right-rear tire with 21 laps remaining. He currently sits 12th in the point standings and will need a victory next weekend at Talladega Superspeedway in order to advance to the Round of 8.
Carl Edwards (Toyota) was second, Joey Logano (Ford) was third and Kyle Busch (Toyota) was fifth to round out the top five finishers.

Next weekend the series heads to the sixth race of the Chase, the second elimination race of the season and the final restrictor plate race at Talladega Superspeedway for 500 miles of bumper to bumper competition. The Alabama 500 is scheduled to begin Sunday October 23rd at 2 p.m., ET.


THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we are now joined by our winners of the 16th annual Hollywood Casino 400, driver Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Outback Chevrolet for

This is Kevin’s 35th victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, his team’s fourth victory and 23rd top 10 in 2016.

If we could start with Kevin, talk a little bit about your race this afternoon and how it feels to be locked into the next round.

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, we had a lot of things going on in the race today. We started off well. Our car would fall off a little bit more than some of the other cars. But it seemed like that kind of played into our hands as we got towards the end of the race with a half a run there.

I think the last restart obviously was the key to getting into Victory Lane. I think for me, looking in the mirror, knowing we were clear, we just needed to get as far out as we could because I felt like the car was going to drop off. It didn’t really drop off the last time out just because of track position.

I knew there were a couple cars back there that had taken tires. I guess that was the 18 behind me that had some speed. But I felt like we could have maintained that gap pretty easily.

But I didn’t really know exactly where our car was going to go based on what had happened during the day. But clean air really made a big difference for us.

THE MODERATOR: Rodney, when the pressure is on this team, it always seems to find success. Talk about that and how you’re feeling heading into Talladega.

RODNEY CHILDERS: Yeah, honestly I think a lot of that comes from Kevin. It feeds down through him as far as being confident and being determined and working hard. That comes down through me, then our shop foreman, our car chief.

We’re just fortunate to have a lot of guys that won’t quit. They don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. They don’t care how many hours they work. They don’t care what they have to do. They just try to make it happen.

It’s cool to be in that environment and be around people like that. It’s something that we all hope that we can do sometime in our lifetime.

But it definitely feels good to get out of here and be able to go to Talladega and not worry about things. Just go back to the shop and work on our Martinsville car and Phoenix car and Texas car.

Really happy to be in Victory Lane, for sure.

THE MODERATOR: And Gene, as Rodney touched on, obviously a lot of success with this No. 4 team. Share what that means for your organization.

GENE HAAS: Well, obviously last week it was a disappointment in the sense that we had a mechanical failure. But those things happen. That’s one thing exciting about this Chase format, is you never know when your number’s going to get pulled.

I think we were pretty nervous going into Talladega next week. When you get behind a little bit, all of a sudden you get down to a ‘win or go home’. That makes for excitement.

So obviously we’re glad we don’t have to have that excitement at Talladega, so now we can focus on getting Kurt Busch into the next round.

It’s awesome because next week is our debut at the Austin Formula One race. Having a win on our backs going into a Formula One race is going to feel good.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Kevin, when you look at the last two weeks, they might have been aberrations, Dover and Charlotte, sitting 12th in the points. Where was your head, where was your mind coming into here?

KEVIN HARVICK: I have no idea where we were in the points or how many we were behind. The only thing we talked about was trying to figure out how to win this race, and if we didn’t win this race, what we needed to do at Talladega.

I think for us it’s always about reaching for something to motivate us. If it’s having to win a race, going to a racetrack you haven’t won at, whatever, rebounding from a bad week.

We’ve been fortunate to be on the good side of this deal for three years now. We know we can perform. We know we can perform in good and bad situations. That’s not something we really even talk about because we’ve already done all that.

We just have to try to prepare and comb through all the information and watch the past races and try to make good decisions throughout the weekend.

We had a fast car. I tried to crash it yesterday. That’s what you have to do. You have to be aggressive. Like what Gene said, the unique part about this Chase is people who can win can take advantage of rebounding and mechanical failures, because things are going to happen, things are going to break, you’re going to have issues, and you got to be able to rebound from them.

That’s just a credit to the whole organization and the things they do to put these racecars on the racetrack. I’m just the fortunate guy that gets to drive them.

I’m having a lot of fun being a part of a team like this. We could say we needed to go jump off a cliff in the morning, and everybody would be there at sunrise and say, all right, where do we jump? That’s just the type of group that it is. Everybody’s got each other’s back. Nobody takes offense to somebody telling them they need to do something better, see something better. It’s just a unique bunch of people. You’re only as good as the people you have around you. That’s true in every business. It’s no different in this garage.

Q. Kevin, obviously you guys don’t want to be in a position where you have to win. But why is it when you are in those situations, you seem to be able to come through?

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, if you can’t win, you won’t win one of these championships. You’ll get to Homestead and you may point your way in, but there will be a car that shows up there that’s going to win the race and is going to win the championship. There’s going to be a scenario that pops up through the years.

But we’ve never approached any race as a points race. He (Rodney Childers) didn’t want to hear anything about points before we started this deal. I’m like, Okay, well, that’s a new approach for me. Usually you go home, you look at the points standings, that was a pretty good week. If we don’t win, it’s not a good week.

It’s something to where we don’t get mad about it, but we try to take away, why didn’t we win this race when we were in position to win this race? The good part about it, do I feel like we had the best car today? Probably not. Did we have the best car at Loudon? Probably not. But guess what, we kept ourselves in it all day. We had good pit stops. We made good adjustments on the car. Then it came down to a good restart and our car was way better when we got out front.

It’s good to feel like you probably didn’t have the fastest car and win the race because I felt like, we felt like, a lot of times we’ve had the fastest car and didn’t win the race. So it’s good to get a few of those back.

I think a lot of those times, you take pieces and things away from those events and try to make things better. We’ve won two races in the Chase. I feel like both of those have been won on restarts. That’s something we’ve worked on for probably a year now to get better at. I needed to do a better job. We needed to change some things around. So that feels good.

That’s just the type of situation that it comes down to. When we get behind on something, we just dive right into that and try to make it better.

Q. Rodney, not needing to put so much focus on Talladega, what does that do in terms of preparation for the next round?

RODNEY CHILDERS: You always want to go win a race, but on the other hand you can’t control it. Our focus is going to be on Martinsville and moving forward. We’ve got nice stuff to take to Talladega. We were planning on going down there to have to win the race there. We’ll definitely go down there and race hard. It’s just nice to be able to focus on the weeks going forward.

This past week was rough on the whole race team, to be honest. Let those guys go see their kids and families a few nights. It’s going to mean a lot to them. Everybody catch their breath and get ready for Martinsville.

Q. Kevin, NASCAR has put a lot of emphasis on the youth market. At 40, you look to be on top of your game. Can you say what the experience gives you on the track when you’re racing against the competition.

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I think experience in our sport is much different than other sports because my eyes don’t work as good as they used to, my reflexes might not be as good, but they’re still not bad.

I think being able to communicate with your race team and sit in there and talk through some things, try to give them a ballpark of what you think, then let them go from there, you know, definitely has more weight than probably a lot of other sports.

I think Peyton Manning, you look at him, he was a very good example of that. He didn’t have the most strength or power left in his arm, but he had the best thoughts and strategies and things to approach defenses, preparation. It got him through in the end.

I think for a lot of the young guys, I think Chase is doing a good job. In his situation, he’s got a championship team, crew chief, that have come in and really helped him progress through a lot of things.

But there’s really still nothing that you can replace experience with, especially winning experience, inside the car.

Q. Gene, can you assess your first season in Formula One. With the driver market kind of heating up, do you expect to stay the course with (Esteban) Gutierrez and (Romain) Grosjean?

GENE HAAS: I think we’ve done spectacular in terms of previous team’s attempts in Formula One. I think a lot of that goes to myself, Gunther and Joe Custer. When we set out to put the Formula One team together, we were really there to race as opposed to try to be the traditional constructor. I think so far our business model has worked really well.

As far as drivers, we alluded that Grosjean because of his contract will be back next year. With Esteban, he’s a great driver, but we haven’t really announced anything yet because there’s no real reason to. We’ll just kind of see how things go forward and what happens.

At the moment we feel good with our current drivers. Like I say, we haven’t definitively said whether Esteban is the driver for next year or not. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t be either.

Q. Kevin, it looked like Carl Edwards might be on his way to his first victory here to what he considers his home track. What was the key to your restart? You said you’ve been working on them. Sounds real simple, but any tricks or keys?

KEVIN HARVICK: I think the key to the restart was just timing. The rest of it we’ll keep to ourselves (smiling).

I think the timing was pretty good. I was able to keep the 48 behind me. He was right next to my bumper. There was nobody behind the 19. That was really the key to the restart. He had a car length between him once we got to the start/finish line from the fourth‑place car and he didn’t have anybody to carry the momentum down there.

The second piece was being able to clear him and break that side draft. We were able to just drive off because they kept side‑by‑side. That was really what allowed us to get out front.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you for your time. Congratulations.


THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our sixth‑place finisher, Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Dow Coating Materials Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

Austin, you’re one place back behind the top eight heading into Talladega next week. Share your thoughts heading into next weekend.

AUSTIN DILLON: It was a solid race for our team. The Chevrolet started out okay. We made some adjustments to make it better. We tried something there with two tires. Just didn’t have the speed there. I got tight, started getting really free. Luckily the caution came out. We were able to get four. Had a really solid restart at the end and gained a few spots.

Felt like we were running down most of the guys in front of us. I got to Kyle at the end, the last lap, but needed one more spot to be ahead of Joey. I think we are tied, but he gets the tiebreaker.

It’s a good spot for us going into Talladega. We have nothing to lose. I’m proud of our team giving ourselves this chance. I’m very optimistic, look forward to racing hard at Talladega.

Q. I hate to ask about the guy that won the race, but I’m going to ask about him anyway. What is it about that team, not just Kevin in particular, but the team itself that they always seem to be able to pull one out of the hat when they need it the most?

AUSTIN DILLON: I think as drivers, we all need to get together and block winner’s elimination race or just pull for something because he’s tough to beat on those final races. I mean, there’s no doubt about it, he steps up when the pressure’s there. That team does a good job.

Joey (Logano) said it I think best. They’re able to reach in their back pocket and get speed when they want it. It’s mind‑blowing. It’s hard to see it. But Kevin’s a good finisher. He’s always been that way. Look back at his career, he can finish off races.

Q. Austin, I know it worked out okay, but when they did the two‑tire stop and put you in the lead, did you have a concern after what happened at Charlotte?

AUSTIN DILLON: I had no real concern. I was more concerned at Charlotte than here. I knew that two tires as far as firing off was going to be okay through the gears. Allmendinger and a couple of them did it, fired off and ran third there for a while.

Our cars, we never put two tires on in practice or anything. Made it through the first lap and I went into turn one in third and the right front just ploughed on exit. I actually almost got run over on the exit of two.

We didn’t have the balance for that and our car didn’t have enough speed for that. So it was worth a shot. If we could have maybe cleared Carl somehow and just ran up there for like two laps until, you know, everything got settled; we probably would have net gained.

We ended up finishing about where we were going to finish anyways, because we got four tires on the next one. It made us make the decision to come get four, drag people down. We ran about to where we were going to finish.

Q. Since Dover, you guys have had something, more speed. Is it handling, horsepower?

AUSTIN DILLON: I think it’s a little bit of everything. We kind of got lost in the middle of the year. Just got back everything kind of more consistent. We gained some speed at RCR. We’re working hard as a group. That’s what it is. It’s a little bit of everything put together will make your cars faster. It’s not just one thing.

Everybody wants it. That’s another big part of it. We got a lot of focus on that 3 car right now, and that’s big.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time. Good luck next week.