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Ford Performance NASCAR: Kevin Harvick Darlington Teleconference Transcript

Ford drivers Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney and Ryan Newman are holding media availabilities today in advance of Sunday’s The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway.  Ford Performance is planning on providing transcripts of all sessions and will send them out when completed.

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light #YOURFACEHERE Ford Mustang – HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU WITH PIT CREW COMMUNICATION?  “I’m not really concerned about it at all.  For us, we’ve had a lot of conversations and meetings about how things were going to flow.  Obviously, things are a little bit different with the amount of people and where people are, so our main source of communication comes from Rodney and Timmy Fedewa, who is my spotter.  Those are really the only things that I hear communication from during the race, so the rest of it is kind of up to them, but as far as my responsibilities and who I hear will be exactly the same as it always is.”

WILL YOU JUST UNLOAD WITH WHAT YOU RAN LAST YEAR AT DARLINGTON?  HOW WILL YOU APPROACH THAT?  “You obviously don’t know what condition you’re really kind of facing just because of the fact that Darlington last year went into the night.  This time it will be a relatively warm day in the sun most of the day, so Darlington is a very sensitive temperature track, so I think you kind of have to evolve as the race evolves.  You look at last year’s stuff, you look at the evolution of the cars as we’ve gone through the off-season and the first part of the season knowing that you at least get to race on the same tire that you had last year, so you take those common trends, you take the things that we needed to do differently from the last race and try to blend all those things together, and then just know that most likely you’re not going to hit that target of making the car drive perfectly and being able to have adjustments in either direction.  It will be a little bit tricky adjusting on your car at the beginning of the race just because of the lack of rubber on the race track.  It’s a race track that really evolves as the rubber gets on the race track and last year it was tough to drive on top of the rubber, so you really had to find different spots on the race track to move around.  As we always do, we want to have a versatile car that can run high or low and do things that you normally do, but I think the biggest goal in this instance is to just not be in right field, try to get yourself in the ballpark and be able to adjust on it so you don’t have to have a rebuild and a reboot.  A few days later you can do that, but you can’t do that during the race, so we’re trying to be solid through these first several races so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot and have to try to reboot in the middle of a race because that will be tough, but you’re definitely gonna have to make changes and evolve with the race track as it changes.’

THE ROUTINE FOR YOU WILL BE DIFFERENT NOW.  WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE WEIRDEST THING FOR DRIVERS TO ADJUST TO?   “For me it’s just gonna purely be the interaction with not being able to have the interaction with the people, and communication will just be drastically different.  How much you’re around people, how close you are to people and things of that nature.  I’ve started races with no practice.  We went through 911 and had a race cancelled and had things different, but this is just so drastically different that you just have to approach it drastically different with an open mind to know that there are gonna be things — before you even get there you have to know that there are going to be things drastically different than the way it was before and just not be frustrated with things that don’t go right, things that are different.  The routine is different.  It’s not as different as Darlington as it’s going to be when we actually do start traveling further than somewhere we can drive because it is a race that we drove to, for the most part, back and forth each day and it is a race that is typically hot, it’s a unique race track, so there are a lot of things that aren’t completely outside of the box, but the people and your interaction with people is just a lot different, has been a lot different – not being able to go to the shop, not being able to have meetings face-to-face is just not normal, and part of the thing that I think we’ve all learned through all this is just your interaction with people is something that you just kind of took for granted and I think as you look at in now that’s the part that you’re missing the most.  So there’s a number of things that are different, but that’s the part that is different for me because we talk through so many things so well as a group, and you won’t have that.”

WHAT ARE YOU MOST CURIOUS ABOUT THIS WEEKEND?  “I think as you look at the world and you look at the way that things have changed over the last seven or eight weeks, you see a lot of changes in procedures, you see a lot of changes in the way that we’re preparing our race cars and the way that the guys work at the shop in shifts.  I could sit here and just go on and on about the way things are different, so I think for me it’s a different frame of mind that everybody is in and I think as you look it’s a much different situation than 2008, 2009 when we went through the financial crisis that we were in.  A lot of things changed when we came out of that and a lot of the things, a lot of the teams, a lot of things in the sport – businesses – everybody operated a lot differently for the most part as we came out of that.  To me, the same thing is going to happen here.  You’re going to operate differently.  I think, obviously, as we go through the screening getting into the race track, the screening during the week, all those things I think everybody expects right now because you’re seeing different businesses go back to work and the screenings that they’re doing that are required are just – that’s the way it is right now – but I think with all the meetings that I’ve been a part of at home and iRacing and the way that the teams are functioning there’s going to be some things that come out of this situation that are permanent and what those things are will start this weekend.  I don’t really know what it is or what they will be, but I think this weekend will be the start of a process that you kind of have to look around and say, ‘You know what, that wasn’t a bad idea.  We did it out of necessity to go in this race track and race and put on a show, but is that something we can carry forward?’  And I think that question is going to be asked a lot as we do things going forward.”

AS SOMEONE WHO REPRESENTS ATHLETES IN OTHER SPORTS ARE YOU AWARE THAT OTHERS WILL BE WATCHING TO SEE HOW NASCAR DOES IN THIS FIRST STEP?  HAVE YOU HAD ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT IT FROM OTHERS?  “Obviously, the eyes are on the sport, but we’ve already been through this – the UFC has already been in the ring.  Our fighter, Donald Cerrone has already been through the screening processes and we had Dana White on my Happy Hours radio show a couple weeks ago kind of explaining the thought process and why they didn’t go sooner and how the UFC and their world put all the pieces together in order to put their fighters back in the ring.  Obviously, they already had a fighter test positive and how they worked through that, so there has been some things that have already happened from the KHI Management side of things and how it was dealt with on the UFC side of things.  So we’ve already seen it with one of our athletes first-hand, so I think as you go into this weekend, obviously, our competitors and our crew guys and everybody who is at the race track needs to remind themselves when they leave their house that the world is watching and our country especially is watching and we need to make sure that we make all the right moves and when you look at the procedures and the precautions taken so far by NASCAR, our teams and just understand that there’s a personal responsibility that comes with each one of us to make sure that that goes as well as possible.  There are going to be a lot of things that are right and there are gonna probably be some things that are wrong, but I think that’s one reason that everybody is as cautious as they can be leading up to this race and trying to make sure that we cover all our bases to make sure that we do it as well as we can.  So it’s obviously not a normal situation, but I think our sport is much different than other sports as far as the interaction between the competitors and the way that things function, so with every driver and every person in that garage being treated like they have the virus and being compartmentalized and doing the things that it takes to keep our sport safe.  It’s not a locker room full of guys that are getting ready to go throw a ball around or have to have that interaction with each other on a weekly basis, so it’s a little bit different, but from our side of it we’ve already seen it work and I think our sport has done a good job to prepare us for this.  We’ve got 40 guys that need to make sure that they take it seriously from a driver’s side and a whole garage that will do the same.  I think we’ll do that.”

UFC OBVIOUSLY DID TESTING BEFORE THEIR EVENT.  ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THE FACT THAT NASCAR IS NOT TESTING AND ONLY DOING A TEMPERATURE CHECK ON TRACK ENTRY?  “Well, I’m not gonna get punched in the face by anybody else or be put in a head lock or be directly in contact with any of my other competitors, so I think it’s a drastically different situation and I think when you look at the guidelines of entry and exit and temperature checks during the week, and all the logs and things of where people are and who they have interaction with, I think we have done what we need to do from what fits our sport the best.  It’s just a much different situation than other sports that actually have human to human contact and have to be in each other’s face and things of that nature.”

HOW DO YOU THINK IT WILL GO PHYSICALLY HAVE TO RACE AT A TRACK LIKE DARLINGTON TWICE IN JUST A FEW DAYS TIME?  “The thing that I can tell you is the first hot race of the year is always kind of a wakeup call for all of us as we’re in the car.  It definitely gets your body’s attention and at this point, for me, I’m used to heat training during the summer months and with all my outside training we do that in the hottest part of the day outside.  You also wind up in racing shape as you go through the season, but that first hot race always gets your attention.  I think this weekend is definitely going to be warm.  Everybody not having been inside the heat of the race car is definitely gonna be the hardest thing to deal with on the first race.  As you go into the second race it’s really just gonna come down to how you feel, paying attention to your hydration and the things that you’re going to need leading up to this weekend, through the race weekend, and just really get back into that recovery mode as fast as you can on Monday morning.  The thing about it is everybody should be fresh.  As you look at it, we were still pretty early in the season and then you have eight weeks or so that we had a break, so your body should be fresh and able to tolerate it, but it’s gonna catch up to you pretty quick if you get behind as you go Sunday-Wednesday, Sunday-Wednesday, Saturday-Wednesday.  It’s a lot, but I think as you look at it, it’s also something that most of us have done before.  A lot of times you race 300 miles on Saturday and 500-600 miles on Sunday in the Cup car and the XFINITY car, so I think that part of it will be fine.  Obviously, the Wednesday races are in the evening so the heat will be less of a factor than it probably will be this weekend, so definitely just have to keep up with it, but you will have some sore muscles and necks and shoulders and things as you go through this first one.”

HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK IT IS WE COME AWAY FROM THESE FIRST FEW RACES WITHOUT ANYONE TESTING POSITIVE FOR THE VIRUS?  “I don’t know that that is probably the actual goal of everybody is to obviously not have anybody test positive for it, but I think with the way that everything is laid out if somebody is tested positive for it, I think there’s a good plan in place to know where they’ve been, who they’ve been in contact with and the precautions that have been put in place to kind of build those walls so that if it does happen you have a good firewall built of trying to keep the people who have been exposed to it quarantined and the procedures that have been put in place are there to be able to deal with that, so I think it’s something that could happen.  I don’t know that it’s definitely not a make or break situation.  I think building in the possibility of that happening and the plans and in the procedures and understanding that that could happen before we get started was built into everything, so I can’t tell you whether it’s going to happen or not, but I can tell you that the plan is in place in case it does happen to make sure that we take the precautions that we need to keep it from spreading as much as possible.”

— Ford Performance —