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June 11, 2017

Kevin Harvick

Erik Jones

Long Pond, Pennsylvania

THE MODERATOR: We're going to go ahead and start our post‑race media availability for the Axalta Presents the Pocono 400 here in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and we're joined by today's runner up, Kevin Harvick, driver of the No.4 Busch Beer Ford for Stewart‑Haas Racing. Kevin, wild finish there, a lot of excitement there in those closing laps, a lot of excitement for you in the course of this race. Would you please walk us through this race from your perspective?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, the guys did a great job. Really proud of the engine shop. I don't know how the engine didn't blow up with the third‑to‑second shift. Obviously the durability is good enough in the engines to do that.
But we had a really fast car. Seemed like the caution came out there at the end of that second stage, and then we got back behind, and I think we were 23rd when we restarted and got back up towards the front and had another caution, and got almost all the way back towards the front, but I had a tough time driving in the corner all day. We never could stop like we needed to all weekend, so you just had to be really careful with the brakes. If I'd over‑drive it for a lap or two the pedal would start going down, and then I was really at a deficit. So I had to be very aware of where I let off every lap.
21 could charge the corner a little bit harder than I could, and my best bet, the way I passed people all day was waiting for him to slip up off the bottom, and he never slipped up off the bottom, so just didn't have enough laps to finish that last pass off, and Ryan did a good job of not slipping a wheel with the amount of laps that he had left and was able to hold on.

Q. Kevin, is this track maybe the toughest one you drive on for brakes?
KEVIN HARVICK: Honestly, we don't use a lot of brake. It's funny because the teams all hear that and then they come with the smallest brakes that you can put on the car, pretty much everybody. So it's a balance between having big enough brakes because you don't want to carry the weight and having the stopping power that you need to get in the corners. You know, we'll definitely do something different.
Obviously with this aero package it's a lot different with the way that the cars slow down and how much drag they have on the cars. They don't slow down like they used to and they have more speed going down the straightaways.

Q. Kevin, you talked about the corners and the speed and everything, but where were your strong points today on the track, and also trying to run Ryan down in the end?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, we ran him down, just never could charge the corner hard enough to get to his bumper. That was our only weakness. I mean, we had the car where we needed it pretty much in every corner, just couldn't charge any of the corners like I needed to with the stopping power that I had.
Just really had to manage that, but everywhere else, the car handled flawlessly all day and didn't really make any adjustments on it other than a little bit of air here and there.

Q. Obviously you want to win as often as you possibly can, but if you can't, coming second to Blaney here in his first win, how special do you feel like that is for him, and you and him battling there at the end, two Fords going head‑to‑head for the win here?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, you know, these young guys winning is important for our sport. Obviously as our team, we want to win, but these young guys have to get into Victory Lane to get these fans that don't like me and Kyle and the rest of the guys, that fan base that's available and new, the younger crowd has to win, and today Ryan was able to do that, so not only is it good for him, but it's good for the whole sport.

Q. Something I wanted to ask both of you guys. What did you think of the broadcast yesterday, Kevin, you being up in play‑by‑play, and Erik ‑‑
KEVIN HARVICK: You know, I've been all but sick all week worried about it. I wish everybody knew how hard it is to do Adam and Mike Joy's job. I didn't do very well at it, but it took a while for me to get used to having people talking in my head while I was talking. The flow of it was a little bit rough in the beginning, but I felt like as we all got comfortable and got going, it was fun, and it's great to step outside the box and challenge yourself to do other things, and I thought after the first two segments it went really good, and I think everybody got comfortable with it and had a lot of fun.
ERIK JONES: Yeah, same thing. It was tough at first, like Kevin said, just the flow. I think it came down for pit stops first time, and I thought the producer was telling me to stand by and I was just standing there not saying anything and they were open mic on me. It just took time, and once we got the flow‑‑ it's kind of hard to throw to people and hand it off, so once we got that figured out, it was fun. I mean, in general I had a good time doing it. It was something different. Never really done any TV broadcast before, so it was a cool experience.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined here by Erik Jones, broadcaster and driver of the No.77 GameStop Toyota for Furniture Row Racing, who came home a career‑best third place in today's Axalta Presents the Pocono 400. Erik, walk us through the race from your perspective and what it's like to finally reach this pinnacle.
ERIK JONES: Well, you know, it was‑‑ I wasn't really too sure about our car. I thought we were decent in practice. Thought maybe we had a sixth or seven place car, and as the day went on we kind of chose a different strategy than most and really ran long in the first segment, just kind of tried to minimize our time on pit road, and it played out really well all day. We needed a lot of green flag runs and we got that today. We got plenty of green flag runs. It worked out really good.
The late caution, I kind of thought that was going to throw a kink in our day. Obviously I was pretty content with where we were running. Came in, luckily two tires worked out for us just fine. We were able to get clear up into third and kind of hang out there for the rest of the race.
It's kind of‑‑ it's great to run there and it feels really good to get a top 5, but man, when you're that close and you're seeing them battle for the win and you're right there trying to pounce and make a move, it definitely makes you eager to go up there and try to get it. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, and hopefully we can keep running well and keep getting in contention for more.

Q. Erik, can you just talk about your race today, how much success you've had here, so close to winning, and then finally putting together a strong finish today and trying to run those guys down in the final laps?
ERIK JONES: Yeah, just felt really good to put a whole race together. I think this is kind of the first race‑‑ I think we probably had a fifth‑ or sixth‑place car, but this is the first race we've finished better than what our car was all year long, and that's a relief. It's frustrating when you don't those get breaks every once in a while, and we definitely haven't got any this year. So it just feels good to run up there and get a good finish, kind of get some momentum going, get everybody's confidence high, and hopefully this is something good to build on for the next‑‑ really the rest of the year.

Q. Lots of guys had brake problems today; did you have any problems? Do you have any theory on why so many guys had problems?
ERIK JONES: I didn't. I started getting a little bit squishy pedal, I don't know, maybe right at the beginning of the second segment, and really kind of tried to nurse them the rest of the day up until about 15 to go. I think it's a lot due to the low downforce. We were just really using a lot of brake. Even with the shifting, that helps slow you down, but still, there's no blade on the cars to slow them down, so it's just relying all on either the brakes or the drivetrain, so it's just really hard on it.

Q. And then secondly, Kevin was talking about how it was good to have Ryan win because it means that all the people who don't like him can root for somebody else; do you feel pressure like that, as well, now that there's so much talk about Ryan and Chase Elliott and you? When another one of those guys wins in your class, does that make you feel like you want to be up where Ryan Blaney is today?
ERIK JONES: Well, I think all three of us wanted to be the first one to do it, so Ryan took that crown from us. But hopefully that's‑‑ you know, that's great. It is great for the sport, honestly. I'm usually not very happy to see other people win, but I was happy to see Ryan win. It was really cool for him, and just really cool to see him get the win. I know how excited he probably is right now, and it really makes the other young guys, me, Chase, Daniel, all feel like we do have a shot to go up and do it.
I feel like we are‑‑ we took a big leap in that direction of getting closer to being able to do it today, and I think once you kind of get up there and run in that position, hopefully it comes a little bit easier as time goes on.
THE MODERATOR: Erik, congratulations on the run today. Good luck next week in your home state of Michigan.

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