Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick met with the media after today's practice sessions at Talladega to address questions about his future. Earlier this week, it was announced that Shell/Pennzoil would be leaving RCR to move to Penske Racing next year, and Harvick's future with RCR remains uncertain as he is in the final year of his contract with the team
What's the latest about where you're going to be in 2011?
“Richard Childress and myself have a great relationship, and we've been talking about a lot of things for several months. It's not any different than what we would normally do at this particular time. The cars are running well, everybody is communicating well, and I don't know what else to say other than Richard and I have had many, many, many, many, many, many, many conversations over the last several months. Where all that leads – it's right now, I'm driving the 29 car and we'll see. I don't see where anything is going.
You say that you thrive on controversy. Did you notice last week all of the beating and banging both on the track and verbally between the 24 and 48? If you noticed it, what do you think of a little action between the squeaky-clean guys?
“I think we're all competitive, and I think those guys are just as competitive as all of us who are vocal about it. I don't think that's abnormal. I don't think it's the first time that those guys have been competitive with each other, and it's not the first time that me and my teammates will be competitive with each other.
“I think the mutual respect comes in for your owner to not crash your cars. You do the best that you can on that particular side of it and sometimes it happens because everybody's racing hard. From an owner's standpoint, you want guys who want to beat their teammates but they also don't race their teammates harder than they race anybody else. I think that's the thing that you look for from an owner's standpoint – somebody who is going to race, not only their teammates really hard, but also is going to race everybody else the same way.”
What were your feelings about Pennzoil's decision to go to Penske? Were you upset, were you angry, or did you know it was coming?
“I don't have any ill will toward anybody or anything. I don't particularly agree with the way the whole situation was handled, but in this particular situation, I'm the driver and it's not anything new to the sport. There are sponsors that come and go, and things change. In this particular situation there was a lot of business-to-business that took place. It's not anything new, and being an owner you understand that there are a lot of those decisions that take place. Other than that, it is what it is and you roll on.”
The last few times NASCAR has raced at Talladega, we've seen cars going airborne. As a driver, does it mentally affect you? Do you think about the possibility of that when you're out there?
“I don't think so. From a driver's perspective, once you get going you don't think about that kind of stuff. You just go in there. There's so much going on here that you're looking backward to go forward, you're two, three, four wide pretty much all day. At this particular race, you don't think about any of that stuff until you go home during the week and you go back and watch the race and see how it all played out.
“If you look at what they've done with the cars, with the spoiler, with the new fins on the sides of the cars, and [how NASCAR was] really trying to pay attention to where the speeds needed to be at the test, and restrictor plates that they came back with. Obviously, that was their number one concern with the cars going upside-down. It may happen again; nobody knows. I think everybody's done as much research as they can with the cars, the scenarios that they feel like they can put the cars in at the wind tunnels, and things like that. Like I tell you guys all the time, there is nothing that you can do to simulate 43 cars on the racetrack pushing and shoving; things just happen differently than anything in a fixed environment.
“It's just one of those things where you have to do the best that you can with the tools that you have to make things the best that you can and try to prevent things from happening. I feel strongly that they've – I think just the things that they've done with the cars has been really good, but the things that they've been trying to do to the car, just out-of-the box things that they've been working on, are really good as well.”
The NFL draft is going on and, over the next few days, we'll start to learn the details of those contracts, with the big focus being on the money that's attached to the deals. NASCAR teams are a lot quieter when it comes to those kinds of details on the contract between them and their drivers. Why do you think that is?
“That's a good question. I don't have an answer to that one. I think it's a much different environment. They have a lot more rules as far as luxury taxes and salary caps and things like that; here, there's none of that.
“In the end, the off-track stuff is a lot like the on-track stuff. It's very competitive and everybody is trying to take everybody's sponsor, I guess would be the best way to put it. You don't really want everybody to know what you're paying your driver because it might be too low, or it might be too high. You want to keep all those things to yourself because that's another element of the competition off the racetrack that is just like on the racetrack. You keep your driver's salaries quiet, you keep your crew chief's salaries quiet; everybody in the garage pretty much knows where everybody else is at. The sponsors are really good nowadays with keeping each other in check, as far as knowing how much everybody is paying each team. There are a lot of different scenarios that pop up as far as bonuses and salaries and you'll never hear anything about them unless you're in the garage.
“Being on the ownership side of it you see a lot of changes. The sponsors have gotten so big and with so much money that there are a lot of stipulations as far as what you can do if you leave a team, not leave a team, where the sponsor can go and can't go. It all just depends on the situations and it winds up in the lawyer's hands more than it does in the actual driver's and owner's hands.”