Kevin Harvick gave credit where credit is due today, after a red-hot start to the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season.
“It comes down to the guys on my race team and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing bringing really good cars to the race track,” he said. “Particularly the No. 4 team… being able to capitalize and manage the weekend’s races and keep the cars together, as well as doing all the things that it takes to make laps and keep yourself in contention. (I’m) really proud of everybody on my team for everything they have done.
“Hopefully, we can keep it rolling. We will try to ride the wave as long as we can.”
Harvick said he is not allowing himself to get caught up in the emotion of his recent success, adding, “You have to try to balance everything, approach it like you do every other week and not get caught up in… the attention and all the things that come with everything we’ve been able to accomplish. There’s not going to be anybody on our team that’s walking around beating their chest. It’s just going to be a normal approach to going out on the track and doing the same things.”
He also warned that this week’s race at Phoenix International Raceway – where he has six wins in 24 career starts – could be a good one for his Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet team.
“I look forward to coming to this race track every year,” he said. “These are places that I have raced at since the mid ‘90s. To come and race in front of these race fans and be able to hear stories about people that watched you race in the Southwest Tour, Winston West or the Truck Series through the years, it’s a lot of fun for me.”
Specifically, Harvick lauded the efforts of crew chief Rodney Childers, saying, “I can tell you that Rodney and I get along like long-lost brothers. Sometimes you get in situations where (we) are talking about the car and (we) will type things at the exact same time. We have a very similar background of how we grew up, (but) his demeanor is a little bit different than mine.
“Obviously, we are different ends of the spectrum,” said Harvick. “He is about as laid-back as you could possibly be and still be awake. I can get pretty wound up. I think that balance is good for both of us, to push each other and find that middle road.
“We are very similar in age (and) we have a lot of the same interests in life, in general. I can’t tell you a day that has gone by over the past year and a half that we haven’t spoken -- in a text or conversation -- about something to do with the race cars. When he doesn’t have anything going on -- which is very rare -- it will just be, ‘Hey how are you doing today?’ That communication has carried over into the rest of the team.
“When you look at our race team, everybody was assembled after we put Rodney in place. Everybody was assembled to come to the race team to race with us. Gene (Haas) and Tony (Stewart) gave us the ability to go out and buy race cars and trucks and trailers and pit boxes. Everything was kind of custom- built to what Rodney wanted. All of those guys have the same goal and they knew what they were getting into. It wasn’t like people were placed on the team because they didn’t have somewhere else in the company (to work), or we ran out of guys to interview.
“Everybody wants to be here for the exact same reason,” he said. “We are having a lot of fun, but I can tell you that the guys will come into the garage this week (having) forgotten about winning last week. “(They’ll) worry about where we are with practice for this week and what is going on.”
Harvick also commented on the competitive struggles experienced by teammates Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick this season.
“When you look at the changes that we made at SHR this year, I thought on paper they would be really good changes. I think they have been really good changes. I know that the No. 4 and the No. 14, all those cars are built side-by-side and put together by mostly the same people. All of our notes are live when we are in the garage and everybody shares information.
“But there are different characteristics of driving styles and interpretation of what you think you need,” he added. “The No. 41 car ran well at the end of last year (and) I think that you will see that car run well immediately this weekend. I think Danica -- until the very end of the year -- had a really good year. I thought she raced well, but didn’t finish some of the situations she was in to capitalize on a Top-15.”
“When you look at the No. 14,” said Harvick, “they have had a lot of things to work through. They have had a lot of changes on their team this year, and it’s just going to take some time to figure out exactly where they want their cars and what they need to do.
“You can put an All Star group together and buy all the best parts and pieces, (but) in the end, it’s really about the details and the things that happen at the race track. I don’t think that Tony’s team has had time to really get into that situation yet. That is a new group of people and (they are) kind of starting over. We are three weeks in, they have not had a great start and I think everybody is aware of that. (But) as you look at everybody at SHR, they are doing everything they can do to try to make it as good as possible.”
He also commented on the return of teammate Kurt Busch this weekend, saying, “Everybody is excited that we’re able to put it all behind us. I don’t really know much about it, other than it seems like it’s (almost) over. To have Kurt back in the car is an asset to everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing from a performance side. Everything that he does inside that race car is a benefit to us, so we’re definitely looking forward to just worrying about racing the car.”