CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP
TEAM CHEVY QUALIFYING PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPTS
NOVEMBER 18, 2016
Kevin Harvick Puts Chevrolet On the Pole at Homestead
Chevrolet SS Drivers Secure Five of Top-12 Starting Spots
Homestead, Fla. – (November 18, 2016) – Kevin Harvick won the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS posted a quick time of 30.399 seconds/177.637 mph to secure his 17th career pole award and his second top start of the season. Sunday’s 400-mile race will mark the first time that the Stewart-Haas Racing driver will lead the field to the green flag at Homestead.
“I’m really proud of everybody on the Jimmy John’s team for just battling through the whole year,” said Harvick after his pole victory. “We’ve had ups and downs and a lot of good things happen, but it has come from a lot of adversity as well. Just really proud of the effort the guys are putting in this weekend. Felt like we had a good practice in race trim and they did a good job with the qualifying stuff. We had speed right off the bat so after that it was just trying to get the driver to catch up with the car.”
Harvick was followed in the starting line-up by Ryan Newman, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS, who matches his best qualifying effort of the season by rolling off the starting grid in the third position. Rookie of the Year contender Chase Elliott, No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS will start fifth.
In his final race as a full-time NSCS competitor, Tony Stewart, will take his last green flag from the 11th spot in the No. 14 Always A Racer/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS. AJ Allmendinger matches his best Homestead start by earning the 12th position on the grid in the No. 47 Kroger/Clorox Chevrolet SS.
Brad Keselowski (Ford) will start second and Denny Hamlin (Toyota) will start third to round out the top-five starters.
The final race of the 10-race Chase playoff from Homestead-Miami Speedway is scheduled to begin Sunday, November 20 at 2:30 p.m., ET Live coverage will be available on NBC, MRN, Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and NASCAR.com.
POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN’S CHEVROLET SS – POLE WINNER
Q. Kevin, how do you feel about playing the role of the spoiler this weekend? It’s a little different for you.
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think for us it’s really the same as it has been. You know, you prepare and do all the same things. We’ve done everything the same. Obviously there’s not as much pressure coming into the weekend as there normally would be, and a lot less to do, so that’s a good thing.
So yeah, it would be nice to win a race and close the season out. Just a lot of reasons, Tony’s last race, last race with Chevrolet. So yeah, came here to try to win, same as everybody else. No participation trophies.
Q. I know you’re saying we’re just here to win and all that stuff, but was there any momentary even just a little happy twinge of, wow, I was able to upstage those guys, or is it seriously just we got on pole, we’re here to do what we need to do?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think when you look at the group of guys we race against every week, I think everybody could look around and say, I’ve been here and done that and beat this guy and beat that guy and they beat us. It’s like I said on pit road, this is a highly competitive sport, and it’s hard to perform well and win races and win poles. You watch last week and how much changed in the last little bit of that race, we have nothing to hang our heads about. This is competition, and that’s what we show up for, and sometimes the defeats are not as fun to experience, but just as much needed in order to push your team and your people and understand how hard it is. I think sometimes losing definitely makes you better, and that’s what I love about competition. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and the group of guys that you race against, those are the guys that keep it interesting and keep it fun showing back up to the racetrack because you can’t beat them every week, and it’s just impossible.
Q. As somebody who has performed in a Chase format, what advice would you give the other four about their approach for Sunday’s race?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, well, you know, the hardest thing is not making yourself do something different. I think as you look at it, that’s easy to talk about and easy to say, but in the end it’s different because there is so much on the line and there’s so many more questions to answer and things going on that you have to have a plan how to manage your time, manage the emotions and try to not put yourself in a position where you get fans or questions or people that are asking you things and you try to keep the frustration as little as possible because there’s just ‑‑ when you’re that tense and then there’s that much going on, there’s a lot of things that can trigger those emotions.
You’ve just got to try to have a good plan and do what you do in the race car and on the racetrack. But really everything else is the hardest part to manage in my opinion.
Q. Kevin, you start on pole, Tony Stewart’s last race, as well as your last race with Chevrolet. Just your emotions on that.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, for Smoke, that’s the biggest reason that I came to SHR was to race with Tony, so we’ve kind of had that off‑and‑on in some unique circumstances over the past three years, so that’s not been exactly what you thought it would be just because he hasn’t been in a car the whole time.
But in the end, he’s meant a lot to this sport. He’s meant a lot to auto racing in general, and I think to not see him on the racetrack ‑‑ I’m still not 100 percent convinced that it’s the absolute right thing for him to do, but in his heart, I think he feels like he wants to go do other things, but I don’t know what else he’ll do. I know he’s going to go race somewhere else and do something else, but at some point he’ll look at it and say ‑‑ you’re going to have to miss all the things and the people that you’ve been doing on a week‑to‑week basis, I think, if that’s all that ‑‑ a lot of what you have going on in your life.
But I know it’s reality and I know what it is, and I know he’s got a lot of plans and he seems to be content with it and ready to move on, so I need to move on from it and get over it and enjoy the last weekend and then take him in as the owner at the racetrack.
We had a little glimpse of that for the first 11 weeks, and he was a lot of fun and brought a lot of input to the race team, so I’m looking forward to that.
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JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 14th
YOU HAD SOME DRAMA IN ROUND ONE AND JUST GETTING TO ROUND TWO WAS NO EASY TASK:
“Yeah, didn’t have a clean first lap and unfortunately we had to re-run and just a little unlucky with the spin. Then to be able to go out that quickly after being so hot and transferring was encouraging. We made a few more attempts on old tires than anyone else and I think we made the most in the situation we were in. Bit unlucky, but first and foremost we should have had a better first outing. Qualifying just isn’t my thing and I am so much better at racing. I am just ready to line them up and race.”
HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR CAR RIGHT NOW AND STARTING 14TH, WHERE DOES THAT PUT YOU IN PIT SELECTION?
“It’s not ideal by any stretch. I think we said if we got top-five we would have a good pit situation. So not ideal there. From 14th to fifth it seems pretty easy to pass, week in and week out. It’s those last four or five cars that are always so tough to pass. It’s no different this week than the others, but at least the first half of the race would have been easier in starting up front. But I don’t have that luxury. As far as the car, all we did today was make qualifying runs today, and the way the tires go we just made three or four runs. I think practice went pretty well for us and we were top five pretty much the whole time. We were surprised with our opening lap in qualifying but things got better from there. I think we have a great car.”
DOES IT GIVE YOU REASSURANCE THAT THE BEST OF THE CHASE GUYS IS NINTH?
“I wasn’t aware of that, but sure, we will all be wadded up together. Let’s party.”
WHAT KIND OF STRATEGY WILL COME INTO PLAY NOW THAT YOU ARE STARTING A LITTLE FARTHER BACK?
“There are a couple ones but the way the tires wear out here I don’t think you are going to see two tires. That is not a good idea. So I feel like here and at Texas and tracks with a lot of tire wear, you pit the car and you put four on it. Then you just drive the wheels off of it and see what happens. So I don’t think there is much for creative strategy here.”
DID YOU GET TO TALK TO NASCAR TODAY ABOUT THE PULLING UP TO PIT?
“No, it’s off my radar. But you damn sure bet I won’t pass the pace car. I am not playing that game again. I have moved on and I just hope and pray that they officiate the same for everyone who is up front.”
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR HELMET AND WHEN YOU STARTED USING THAT AND WHAT INSPIRED THAT?
“We have had it since (inaudible) started. I just wanted to pay respect to Dale (Earnhardt Sr.) and Richard (Petty). Jason Beam came up with the idea and it’s been cool to wear it. It’s definitely been getting some attention and honestly it’s just out of respect for those two guys. I am glad everybody has been so excited to see it.”