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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: AXALTA 'WE PAINT WINNERS' 400


June 7, 2015


Kevin Harvick

Jimmie Johnson


LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA

MATT HUMPHREY:¬† We are joined by today's second‑place finisher in the Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400, and that is Kevin Harvick, driver of the No.4 Budweiser Chevrolet for Stewart‑Haas Racing.¬† Kevin, you had a really strong race car here this weekend, Martin Truex Jr. going to victory lane, of course.¬† Talk about the battle of trying to catch that 78 car today.
KEVIN HARVICK:  Yeah, it was really no battle.  He got out there too far on the restarts.  We were really struggling with third gear on the restarts and kind of had to go into defense mode to just kind of protect our track position.  So that really put us in a box, and then the caution coming out the lap that we were pitting, you know, we just got behind him, and hopefully that turns full circle as we get towards the end of the year.

Q.¬† With your eighth second‑place finish of the season, do you feel that this provides you and your team another boost of momentum or more added frustration for not finding victory lane?
KEVIN HARVICK:¬† Yeah, I don't think‑‑ I think everybody is probably frustrated that we didn't win, but I think it's frustrated in a good way.¬† It's very rare that you can come to the racetrack and be in those positions every week.¬† I think when you look at the‑‑ just like today, we were literally coming to pit road when the caution flag flew and never really made up those 10 spots that we lost, and struggled on the restarts to get going.¬† I think as you look at the situations, I think second is better than 10th.¬† It's a frustration that's good in a way, and you want to be frustrated because we're not winning, but in the end, you also don't want to be greedy, either.
MATT HUMPHREY:¬† We are now joined in the media center by today's third‑place finisher, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.¬† The Tricky Triangle first started out as a trick today and then you turned it into a treat with the way you recovered in this race.¬† Is it just a symbol of how your team is performing right now?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah, our race ability has been a shining spot for us this year.  Today we really didn't have pace for the 78 or the 4, so we've got to get to work there.  With the damaged car we ran third, missing half the splitter and the right side knocked in, some hard racing on one of those restarts off Turn 3.  To get a good result, we overcame a lot today, having to deal with a flat tire, the damage to the car, and then I got to third.
We'll take it.  Scrappy day for us, but not the end of the world, either.

Q.  For either one of us, does it kind of amaze you that the 78 team can do what they do being based in Denver and being such a good team?
KEVIN HARVICK:¬† I think they've had a lot of‑‑ I was tied to that deal when I was at RCR a little bit when Kurt was driving it.¬† They probably spend as much money as anybody in the garage if not more, their team, but they have a lot of logistics to overcome and it's taken them to long time to get the people in place, but they have good people.¬† They have a lot of people that travel back and forth, and they spend as much money as anybody as a team for travel and those things to make sure they get their guys back to Colorado, so they put the effort in, and it shows.

Q.  Jimmie, this is the first race since August 24 where a Hendrick car hasn't gone to victory lane here.  For your race personally, obviously there was that contact with the wall late on the restart like you talked about and the flat tire earlier.  To overcome that, where do you think that sets your race team right now going forward?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I think it says that we're doing a good job.  Our car drives good in traffic, which is something I didn't have last year, so I'm very happy to have that.  I've had to pass a lot of cars through this first part of the season, from poor qualifying efforts or a flat tire like we had today.
I think we're doing well.  We still need more speed, even if we're the fastest car, I'd probably still want more, but to have the 78 and the 4 so far ahead and the speed that Kevin showed in practice and what kind of speed is really in our Hendrick equipment, we've got to keep working.  We're not really where we need to be exactly.

Q.  There was a lot of talk about the bumps in Turn 2, how it was going to play out in the race today.  What were your thoughts on the bumps going through there today?
KEVIN HARVICK:¬† I think after the first run, I think everybody was kind of settled down on the bumps, but if we could just keep them‑‑ if the track is smooth, a lot of them are going to complain about it being too smooth and doesn't have enough grip, and now there's three bumps in the track and it's the end of the world.¬† You know, I think Jimmie is probably the same way, you used to just go to the racetrack and if there was a new bump, you said, hey, there's a new bump, and you'd go to work on it.
I probably made 70 percent of my passes today in the tunnel because guys would get there and bounce and move up the racetrack or get loose or whatever the case may be, but I made at least 70 or 80 percent of my passes over there today.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I totally agree.  It was an opportunity to work on your car, an opportunity to pass.  I think it really surprised us all our first trip through the tunnel.  It's a hairy corner to start with, and then to roll off in there your first time and find those bumps, I just think it just got everybody's attention.
I don't mind the bumps and the challenges that come with all that stuff, so I second what Kevin said.

Q.  Kevin, you've been where Martin is right now, ending a big, long winless streak.  What do you think he's feeling right now, not only because it's for a smaller team but ending such a big winless streak?
KEVIN HARVICK:  Yeah, the size of the team doesn't really matter.  I think when you look at everything personally that Martin and Sherry have dealt with, I'm just super, super happy for them personally.  I'm super happy for Barney and his team, but more importantly for Martin and Sherry, to see them have that bright spot of today is something that I think the whole garage is going to support and be happy with.
Obviously you always want to win, but when you can see something come full circle like their situation, it makes you proud to know them and be a part of the sport in general, to see how they've supported Sherry and all the things that they've gone through.

Q.  Jimmie, could you speak to that, as well?  Seems like the Truex win would be pretty popular in the garage.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah, I mean, I guess the only thing I could add to what Kevin said is just the professional side of Martin's career in the last few years.  When you go back to the Richmond race and the challenges that he has had, he's had more to overcome personally and professionally than probably anybody sitting in a seat right now, and for him to still walk in the garage every week with a smile on his face, climb in the car, put in the effort, be the great guy he is I think speaks volumes, and a very popular win for him.  I went into victory lane myself, gave him a fist bump and told him good job, as well, so very popular win for sure.

Q.¬† You're off the mile‑and‑a‑half tracks now with the rules package.¬† What did you think of the racing today at Pocono and any improvements that NASCAR could make or are you satisfied with the product you had today?
KEVIN HARVICK:  I mean, it's really not any different than it has been for the 15 years that we've raced here.  I think the bumps in the tunnel added some different things to it.  I think the restarts were crazy.  I don't know that the rules package is really out.  I think everybody has really blown it out of the proportion, and really when you look back at things and you look at how things work, it's not a lot different than it has been.
For whatever reason everybody wants to talk about it a lot more than they have.¬† It's like I watched that, is it the '92‑‑ I think it's the '92 All‑Star Race, you go back and watch that race, and everybody talks ‑‑ they made it into this great production and great race on TV.¬† It was like follow‑the‑leader in 1992.¬† It was way worse than what we are today, and there just happened to be a crash at the finish that everybody thought was spectacular, and Earnhardt spun out, so that always makes it interesting.¬† It's like the pass in the grass.¬† There was no pass.¬† I don't understand.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:  The only other thing I think is the track is coming around here.  We're seeing the lane widen out.  There was an outside groove that worked in 1, didn't have to run the bottom in 3 on restarts.  The second lane was working.
I think what the track did and the type of asphalt they put down, I think the next year or two will actually start widening out the racetrack, especially in 1.
MATT HUMPHREY:  Gentlemen, thanks again for coming in today, congratulations, and we'll see you next week in Michigan.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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