home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 4, 2018

Rodney Childers

Kevin Harvick

Tony Stewart

Las Vegas, Nevada

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the crew chief and owner of the No.4 Jimmy John's Ford for Stewart‑Haas Racing, and that's Rodney Childers and Tony Stewart. Tony, let's start with you; obviously you were very excited in Victory Lane, 100th win for Kevin Harvick in all three national series. Talk about the excitement in your camp right now.
TONY STEWART: It's an awesome day for sure, especially the last two weeks. These guys have done an awesome job, and it just kind of feels like the last couple years these guys have done an awesome job. I think the most impressive part for us is the fact that everybody thought the Fords were going to be underdogs this year, and not only the 4 car but all of Stewart‑Haas Racing cars have had speed and Penske has had speed and Roush has had speed.
Proud of everything that the Ford Motor Company has been doing for us. Shows their dedication to obviously the sport and this program. Proud of that, but really proud of Rodney and the 4 car guys, not only last weekend and today but just everything they've done. It's nice to see Kevin and Rodney back in the form that we're used to seeing them in.
THE MODERATOR: Rodney, two back‑to‑back mile‑and‑a‑half races that were dominated by the No.4 team. Obviously you can't give away secrets, but what have you seen out of that 4 team that has made you so successful so far?
RODNEY CHILDERS: You know, like I said last week, you never know going into a season if it's going to be good or bad or whether you're behind or you're ahead or whatever the case may be. You know, I thought we would go to Atlanta and run good, but I thought we would go to Atlanta and run good because of Kevin Harvick. You know, I figured we would come here and really see what we had. I was impressed from the first lap he made on Friday. He said the car drove good. It went through the bumps better than it ever has here, and just all the stuff that it's supposed to do.
You know, I really think it just comes down to a lot of hard work at the shop, you know, a lot of hard work at the engine shop, Doug Yates and his guys at Roush Yates, and like Tony said, the stuff that Ford Performance has done to try to help us out, all that stuff matters.
I think we've done a good job as a team to focus on the details over the winter and focus on the fundamentals of racing, and really just focus on our own stuff and kind of forget about the trick of the week and all the other stuff that goes around. This guy beside me has told me over and over since day one I need to worry about our own stuff and focus on our own stuff, and I feel like that's what we've done, and it just has worked out good so far.
THE MODERATOR: Kevin, you've added your name to this list: Richard Petty, Kyle Busch and David Pearson, 100 NASCAR national series wins. Congratulations. Maybe just talk about that milestone to open us up.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, so it's been‑‑ it's been a lot of years accumulated with a lot of great race teams and people and situations. You've won some that you should, you've won some that you shouldn't. I think when you tag that triple‑digit number to it, it really lets you realize that you've been fortunate to accomplish a lot of things and do things consistently throughout the years.
It's been fun. I think for me the last five years have really been the part that have been the most fun for me, just because of the fact that I've been able to come into Stewart‑Haas Racing, and Gene and Tony took a chance and said, okay, we're going to do this a long time in advance, and Rodney was convinced to come over here and be a part of this deal.
I think when you look at that, it's a little bit different when you look at something that has been built from the ground up, not only from the race cars and the transporters but with the people, and for me at this particular point, it's more fun‑‑ it's as fun‑‑ I love to win, don't get me wrong. I love to win and love to be a part of that whole equation that comes with all these guys, and it starts with the ownership group and pulling into Victory Lane and seeing how excited all those guys are that do everything on the race cars that I'm fortunate just to sit in.
I think that is one of the things that is the most exciting for me.
I'm just fortunate to be riding the wave, and you can called me old, you can call us old, but cars are fast and things are going well.

Q. Rodney, this wasn't just a win, it was pretty much a butt kicking. Were you aware even say 10 or 15 laps into the race that you were going to have a car that might be this dominant?
RODNEY CHILDERS: You know, I didn't know with the weather changing a little bit going into today, with the wind not blowing‑‑ actually blowing the opposite direction. You know, the temperature was down. The track temp was up. There was just a lot of things that were different.
But we felt good about our car yesterday in practice. It reacted to things that we thought that it should. Like I said, probably the most impressive thing is how it went through the bumps down in 1 and 2 the whole weekend was incredible. Some of that stuff we don't ever understand how we did it, but we'll figure that part out, I guess.
But we had a good car all weekend.

Q. I'm going to ask both Tony and Kevin because I think I'm going to get two different answers, Kevin being kind of humble about the problems you had last year and y'all are kind of still working on some things even though you're dominating. What's going to happen when y'all figure this out and start clicking on all cylinders?
KEVIN HARVICK: I've sat in here and told you guys, look, these guys at Stewart‑Haas Racing have worked on Chevrolets for a long time, and that's the only car that they knew. So learning the nuances of a different manufacturer and I think as you look at the second year for us‑‑ last year when we put the engine in the car, none of the steering components worked. You had to redesign the steering, you had to redesign the clips, you had to redesign the motor mounts, and then it was just one problem after another.
I think as you come into this year, all those things work, and you're working on the small nuances of a new inspection process and different things that come with that and whatever the little rule changes were, the pit road stuff. Those things are‑‑ you were able to focus on something. Last year we weren't able to focus on anything for the first four months because everything was a problem.
You know, I think everybody knew that. I've told you guys this before, and the only reason that it didn't stick out like a sore thumb is because we have a lot of good people and owners and a manufacturer that gave us the resources and finances to go out and solve those problems and get them to a point. But I think he would tell you, and I think all the engineers would tell you there's still a lot of things to work through.
Sky's the limit on where it can go, and I think that's probably one of the biggest reasons that Tony and Gene and all of us thought that the resources and things that came with Ford were ‑‑ the light at the end of the tunnel could be a lot bigger than it was just because you were able to control so many more things, you were able to work on so many more things and not rely on anybody else. You were relying on your own people and your own walls. But there was a period in there where it was a handful to get it all going.
There's a lot of good teams, but I'd put our bunch up against anybody.
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I agree. There's a ton of great teams out there, and the things that's the constant variable in here that's always changing is technology, so it always kind of resets where everybody is at because we've seen organizations and teams leapfrog each other when they find something‑‑ kind of the new trick that works for them. But Kevin is right; there was so much to do last year, and in December we were halfway through the month of December, and it looked like skeletons in the shop because there wasn't a body on any cars because we weren't able to do that yet.
So many things had to be done, and there were so many areas that there were problems that needed fixing that guys did a great job of solving problems but not really fine tuning on it, and then being able to have this first year to where we got all that underneath our belts and had the winter to kind of refine everything, it shows the depth of our organization and the people in our shop that are what make the three of us extremely proud of SHR and the people that we have working for us.

Q. I know Rodney said that you never know how things are going to go, but did you have any sort of feeling that this might be coming, especially with the new body scan system and the new splitter rules?
TONY STEWART: I don't think when you have that you ever know what's going to happen. Like I say, the technology changes so much, and you never know what's going to happen with tech inspection. But it seems to be a little bit smoother than last year up to this point. Excited that NASCAR has worked really hard to make the inspection process better than what it was. You know, that's a big undertaking that they had to go through, as well.
You know, it's been a huge process, but I think all in all, it's just a much better deal than it was.

Q. Tony, following up, with the inspection, how much do you think that's responsible for the Fords not being as much of the underdogs as they turned out to be, at least so far this year?
TONY STEWART: I don't think we ever considered ourselves underdogs. I think that was‑‑ I think Roger was the one that actually said that, but I think Roger would take that comment back when he sees not only how we've ran but how his teams have ran and how much Roush has gained speed this year. I don't think any of us, and especially Ford, I don't think anybody at Ford thought we would be underdogs this year. For us it's just‑‑ I guess for Stewart‑Haas Racing, it's just continuing to move forward, and like we talked about, just trying to make things better in our own organization.
You know, as far as the inspection process, I think it's more a question for Rodney because he's the one that has to go through it. But I haven't heard as much grumbling with inspection as we've heard in the past and things that‑‑ last year there were so many things that you'd go through tech and you'd go through with the same car that you didn't change and the numbers were different. It's like, we didn't change anything on the race cars, and numbers were drastically different.
From the untrained guy that hasn't been through the inspection process this year, it just seems like listening to the crew chiefs, it's been a much smoother process.

Q. Kevin, I heard you talk in Victory Lane about the 100th win, but in Cup alone, this is your 40th victory, tied with Mark Martin for 18th on the all‑time list, third among active drivers. Is that a number that has particular significance to you?
KEVIN HARVICK: You know, I think any place you get on the list at this particular point, for me I just kind of laugh, just because of the fact that I don't think you ever really‑‑ I never really thought that I would actually get to the point of putting yourself beside Mark Martin and some of the guys that are on that part of the list.
You know, I think as you look at the last five years and you look at the wins and the championship and the way that things have gone, it's really kind of rejuvenated everything that I've done and the way that I feel about coming to the racetrack. You feel obligated to be a part of it during the week and try to put the maximum amount of effort because Rodney and Dax and the engineers and everybody who's working at the shop, they're digging, and they're not worried about where you're at on the list. And I think that for me is a good thing because it's really week to week. They'll go home, and we probably won't ever talk about what we did at Vegas until we come back to Vegas. It'll be all about Phoenix this week and what we're going to do and what we did wrong and what we did right at the fall race and where we're at with the cars at this particular point and what do we need to work on and how do we need to work on things, and we'll fly home tonight and have a good time and talk about how the weekend went.
There's always things that you can make better. There's really no time to sit and reminisce about where you're at on a list because when things are like this, you want to capitalize on them, and you want to capitalize on your cars and your people and your enthusiasm and the momentum and all the things that come with that, so you're almost scared to even really step back and say, we did this or we did that, and your name is on the list here. It's just, okay, how do we keep doing this, and let's just keep pushing things forward and try not to stumble along the way and screw up what's going on, because to me, so far, it feels a lot like 2014 except you've got a team with five years of experience, and that's pretty scary.

Q. Rodney, obviously your team is riding a lot of momentum into Phoenix next weekend; what's your evaluation of the team's flat track program?
RODNEY CHILDERS: Yeah, I mean, we definitely hit our stride at Phoenix early as far as the 4 team. And then we went through a spell there where I think the track changed a little bit, the tires changed a little bit, and we just kind of got off of our base. We went back to some things last fall, and we had good speed all weekend. I think our cars are better now than what they were last fall, and I think we can go out there and be competitive and hopefully have a shot at another win out there.

Q. You just mentioned this, but both Kyle Busch and Martin on pit road were talking about how you looked like 2014 again, and Martin said, there goes Kevin Harvick off in his own zip code again. Does it really feel that way, or has so much changed in that time, is it difficult to compare?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, for me, there was a lot of questions coming into the weekend. I think Atlanta is its own beast, but I think we answered a lot of those questions for ourselves. And now it's about navigating the rest of it, and how do you push yourself forward, what do you need to work on, even though things are going good. Sometimes you have to trick yourself and everybody else into thinking, okay, well, everything is going good. Well, I can promise you that the 78, the 18, the 2, the 22, everybody is going to work, and they're going to get better. I mean, we did that last year.
We've been in this position before, and you have to keep pushing forward to try to keep your advantage of things that are working well for you, but you also have to find out what your weaknesses are. This weekend we're going to a flat track, and like Rodney said, we didn't run well there in the spring. We ran better in the fall but not like we expect to run. So that's an important playoff race.
So we have to figure out how to motivate everybody to keep pushing forward to not sit idle in the things that we're doing and become complacent in the things that you're doing because it's good enough right now because it won't be when you get to summertime.

Q. Does your car feel that much better than it did near the end of last year, or is it the same and everybody is just kind of‑‑
KEVIN HARVICK: My car drove‑‑ you've got to remember, at the end of last year, our car was as competitive as anybody. We drove to Victory Lane there at Texas and led the most laps and won both stages and just had some things not work out for us at Charlotte. So the mile‑and‑a‑half stuff has been on point since we got to Chicago last year.
I think as you have the whole winter to step back, take a deep breath and work on some things, obviously I think as you look at everything that's changed, it's obviously not hurt us as much as it hurt some other people. There's still a lot of racing left to go.
But it's good to have momentum. It's good to have things going early. It's good to score playoff points because we saw how important they were last year for the 78, and you want to‑‑ when things are going good, you need to hammer it home. You need to capitalize on it. You need to win stages because there will be a point where you go through that lull where somebody else is hot, and you hope that your hot streak is longer than theirs so you can score more points and put yourself in a better position to try to put yourself in a better position for the playoff points than anybody else.

Q. Piggy‑backing off that last thought, you've had five wins your last nine trips to Phoenix and you're on a serious roll right now. Are you feeling superstitious in any sense, you, the team in your daily routine, trying to keep yourself on that narrow path‑‑
KEVIN HARVICK: I had two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch today, so that sounds like that's the omen, which is great for me, and especially when I can eat them on white bread like I did today. The only difference is Gene is going to have to stand there and talk to me about the F1 team and tell me about how their testing went and everything that comes with that.
Yeah, so two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Gene Haas is required to come to the race and give me an update on F1 testing.

Q. You've won races in cars that were this dominant before; what's it like when you're not challenged every lap? Do you kind of almost rock yourself to sleep you're so far ahead, or would you rather have someone racing with you every lap?
TONY STEWART: Well, it's nice. I mean, there's days that it's not like that and you've got to work your guts out to try to keep up, so when you have days like this, it gives you the flexibility to really‑‑ in all reality, it gives you an opportunity to focus a little bit more on what your car is really doing because you're not really having that pressure on you as far as somebody pressuring you on the racetrack. When you can get out by yourself like that and things are clicking along, it seems like the closer things are to being right, the easier it is to actually diagnose what it is you need. On a day like today when‑‑ in Atlanta when Kevin has got cars that are driving the way he wants to drive like that, he can really pick apart what it is he needs to be even that much better. I think guys that are really struggling, they don't know what to do. It's hard to figure out what the problem is and what you have to do to fix it.
It's kind of a luxury to be in that spot, and I think when you get in that mode where things are clicking along, it does make you more dangerous because you're able to really fine tune and find things that you need to make it that much better.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297