|Kevin Harvick gets fast pit work from his Stewart-Haas crew|
Tired of finishing second in every race to start 2015, reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick picked up his first win of the season in Sunday's Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver led 142 of 267 laps to take home his first victory in 15 career attempts at the 1.5-mile speedway on the first leg of the three-race #NASCARGoesWest trip.
Harvick was trailed by Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin to complete the top five.
Jimmie Johnson led 45 laps, but was forced to take an unscheduled pit stop under green for a loose right front tire. Already off the lead lap, the six-time series champion later cut a tire on two separate occasions. He finished 41st.
Kasey Kahne (17th) and Carl Edwards (42nd) got into a small fracas on the track after the Joe Gibbs Racing driver's No. 19 squeezed Kahne's No. 5 in the wall, with the Hendrick Motorsports driver then spinning Edwards out.
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN’S/BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS – RACE WINNER:
YOU’VE EXTENDED A STREAK OF NOW SIX RACES OF EITHER FIRST OR SECOND. THIS IS YOUR FIRST WIN AT LAS VEGAS. WHAT A DAY
“It’s so cool to win here in Las Vegas and start this West Coast swing off this way is pretty awesome. Just to be in front of all these fans I’ve raced in front of since about the mid-‘90’s. It’s pretty special to win here. I’ve got to thank Jimmy John’s, Budweiser, Chevrolet, and everybody on this car that makes it go around; and all these guys and everyone at Stewart-Haas for what they do."
DID YOU FEEL A TIRE WAS GOING DOWN OR A VIBRATION IN THE LAST 20 LAPS?
“I don’t know, but it wasn’t right. Luckily we were able to hang-on to it and had a good enough lead to where we could pace ourselves and be able to keep the lead, I guess. I just want to thank all the fans. What a great crowd today and I thank them for everything they do for our series.
TALK ABOUT YOUR LAST RUN:
"It got to be a handful there at the end. For whatever reason we got really, really loose the last run. Tires started vibrating and we were just kind of hanging on. Glad the race is over at that particular point for our own good. Everybody on our Jimmy Johns/Budweiser Chevrolet has done a great job. Everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing I want to thank them for everything that they do."
THREE WINS IN THE LAST SIX RACES, IS THERE ANY STOPPING THIS TEAM?
"We just have to keep our heads down and keep doing everything that we've been doing. This isn't a bunch of guys that are just going to go out and brag We're going to race every week like we have never won a race before. That's the kind of determination that you need when you are going to do this stuff."
AS THE REIGNING CHAMPION, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO LOCK YOURSELF INTO THIS YEAR'S CHASE?
"It feels pretty good. I'm pretty excited about it. This whole Chase thing, there is a lot of strategy to get into. The best strategy is to go out and win races. I'm just really proud of everybody on our team."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 2ND:
CAN YOU JUST DESCRIBE THE TURNAROUND AND INSPIRATION BOTH ON AND OFF TRACK WITH NOT ONLY THE GUYS ON YOUR TEAM, BUT ALSO YOUR GIRLFRIEND?
“I can’t put it into words, honestly. I’m just really proud of everyone. I’m obviously very proud of Sherry (Pollex, girlfriend) and what she’s been through and everything I’ve learned from her to be a better person. But I’ve just got to thank everyone at Furniture Row and ECR engines and everybody back at the shop for all their help. It’s just a solid weekend. They guys made good decisions and we’re not having any terrible weather. So, we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing and find a little bit more speed and we’ll be able to some guys. Harvick was so fast all day. I got the lead on him once there on a restart and though oh, this is pretty cool. But we didn’t have anything to hold him off. We’ll keep working and we’ll get better and hopefully this is a sign of things to come."
CONGRATULATIONS ON A GREAT RUN TODAY:
"Well, I appreciate it, thank you very much! It was fun day for us. A good weekend overall. We just continue to do as we started the year out doing. I’m proud of everyone in Denver (Colorado, team headquarters), proud of everyone here on this Furniture Row team. They are making great decisions, doing an awesome job. What can I say? It is fun to run up front. It is fun to drive cars that are fast. I feel like we can keep chipping away at it, getting a little better each week and hopefully by the end of the year, we will have some wins under our belt."
DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A SHOT AT THE NO. 4 AT THE END?
"He was getting bigger in my mirror, but I believe he was playing with everybody. He was just really, really strong. I was proud that we fought the way we did. We were off a bit at the start of the race, and got better throughout the day. At the end of the day we were the best that we were all day. I think without going to the garage and making a little adjustment we felt like we needed, we probably weren't going to get even close to the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick). Live and learn. Those guys have been really strong for a year. And we are just getting our stuff rolling. Hopefully we'll get it tuned up and be able to run with them soon."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 3RD
ON THE RACE:
“This was a great team effort with the Caterpillar Chevrolet. I’ve got to thank all the guys; especially the guys on pit road that have done a phenomenal job the last two races. We just came up short. That’s no fun. Don’t get me wrong. It was an improvement over last year. We improved throughout the entire race and I’m satisfied only because we’re improving. I’m not satisfied because we didn’t win."
SEEMS LIKE YOU HAD A GOOD SETUP THAT REALLY WORKED THROUGHOUT THE RACE:
“The guys did a really good job in the pits with the Caterpillar Chevrolet. It was a good run. An improvement over last year at this race. Just proud of the team. We keep building on it. They are doing a great job. We are getting closer."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR. NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 4TH:
WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH RIGHT SIDE OF YOUR CAR?
"I got really loose. I had a real bad vibration on that last run and I was really, really loose. We've been running the track bar pretty much even the whole race, and at the end there I had it down three inches on right side trying to save my butt. Maybe it was worn-out lefts, I don't know. The left side (tires) is new and a little softer compound maybe we just took it a little bit too far."
ON HIS FINISHES SO FAR THIS YEAR – THIRD, THIRD AND FOURTH TO START THE SEASON:
"Sounds a little bit less than we did last year, I think we were first, second – second so, we have to step it up a little bit. (LAUGHS)"
YOUR FANS THOUGHT THIS COULD BE A WIN FOR YOU. IN THAT FINAL RUN TO THE FINISH, DID YOUR CAR JUST GET AWAY FROM YOU, BALANCE-WISE?
“I don’t really know. We’ll go home and take a look at it. We didn’t put lefts (tires) on it; made it a gamble. I like to gamble. I liked the call. I love being aggressive. We were going to drive up there and pass that No. 4 (Kevin Harvick). So, we had to take a chance. Second, fifth, fourth, whatever; it really don’t matter if you don’t win. I was happy with the Nationwide Chevrolet all day long. Last year we run second and almost won the race, by luck. We sit around and run 10th, eighth, place all day last year and weren’t a very good car. This year, our cars are racing up there. So, we think we’ve got the cars better than we had last year. Hendrick, overall, has great speed. The engine department is doing awesome and we’re going to get one. I want to win! We’re going to get there."
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 47 CLOROX CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 6TH
ON HIS DAY:
“Just proud of the guys. This has never been my favorite race track. We tested here. That helped a little bit, but we started off during the weekend kept picking away at it each session we got a little bit better. A lot of credit to having an RCR (Richard Childress Racing) alliance because the No. 78 and No. 31 were really fast all weekend. We kind of stole from them a little bit going into the final practice. That helped us and really helped up today. Honestly, probably one of the best races we have ever had. Watkins Glen is what it is, but just when you look at the effort and everything on a 1.5-mile track, good stops, kept up with the race track all day, just really proud more than anything. Feeling like this is probably one of our best races we have had. Something hopefully we can keep building off of."
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 8TH
SOLID TOP 10 RUN IS THIS SOMETHING YOU CAN BUILD OFF OF AS WE GO INTO FONTANA IN A FEW WEEKS?
“We can definitely build off this. The first two weeks we were strong, but didn’t get the finishes we deserved. I’m happy that we could recover from that and get a top 10 finish here in Vegas. I thought the Target Chevy was going to be better than that, but our balance was just off a little bit on short runs. Then on long runs we would get really loose into the corner. I couldn’t be as aggressive as I’d like to be, but still a top 10, decent day."
REGAN SMITH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 16TH
ON HIS RACE:
“Had an extremely fast Haas Automation Chevy. These guys worked hard all weekend and stuck with me. I had some struggles early on. They stuck with it and (Tony) Gibson (crew chief) gave me a fast race car. I made a mistake on pit road and to get top 10’s and top fives in this stuff you can’t make mistakes. That was on me today. Just proud of the effort and proud of these guys sticking with it, Friday wasn’t the best of days and they dug deep for me and I appreciate that."
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 TIME WARNER CABLE CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 17TH
YOU GUYS HAD A STRONG CAR AND THEN GOT INTO IT WITH CARL (EDWARDS). HE JUST CAME OVER HERE TO TALK TO YOU WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED?
“We had a second place car the first 30 laps of a run and a winning car the last 15-20 laps of a run. I could get closer and closer. The way it played out I feel like we would have been able to race Harvick. He was unreal throughout the entire race, but I felt like my car was unreal too. Really happy with our Time Warner Cable Chevy and Carl (Edwards) just came down and just apologized and said he feels like he hasn’t done that before to anyone. We basically needed a full car width more there in order to make it. He just never lifted and run me just right into the wall and ruined his day as well. He just apologized for that. It’s disappointing, nothing we can do now, but we did have a great car."
TALK ABOUT THIS SECOND RACE WITH THIS NEW PACKAGE:
“You just run super hard. It’s like we run two Xfinity series. It’s like we have two of those series now we don’t even have a Cup series anymore. It’s weird to do that, but you just run really hard. You don’t pass a good car until 15 or 20 laps to go in a run when tires start falling off a little bit. Until then you don’t even think about passing. You just run in line and it’s boring as can be, but that is what NASCAR wants."
CARL EDWARDS ADMITTED ON AIR SAYING HE SHOULD HAVE GIVEN YOU MORE ROOM:
"Yes. He just talked to me. He just stayed in the gas. We just needed a full another car worth of racing room there, and just plowed us into the wall. That was discouraging. We had a really good Time Warner Cable Chevy and felt like on the last 20 laps of a race run, we were the best car. Before that, Harvick definitely had us covered. It would have been a lot of fun to at least try to race him there at the end. See if we could catch him. It would have been interesting. He was really, really good and won today. But I feel like we had the second best car and we were really close."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 3M CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 18TH:
YOU STARTED IN A BACKUP CAR AND WORKED YOUR WAY FORWARD. YOU HAD A GOOD CAR. WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND JEB BURTON?
“I guess Jimmie (Johnson) blew a right front tire. I was right behind Jeb (Burton) getting ready to make a move on him. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go inside or outside, but all of a sudden he started checking up and I thought he was doing it to let me go by him and I didn’t realize until right at that moment when my spotter said something to me that Jimmie was having a problem; and I ran into the back of him. It ruined our day with this 3M Chevrolet and certainly ruined the front end. Our car just wouldn’t go down the straightaway and it was real tight.
“Man, we were coming. We had one weird set of tires. We drove up there right at the beginning and the car was amazing on rails. The next set of tires, the thing was just terrible loose. So we made an adjustment and then the car went back to being tight. So, I don’t know what happened there, but that got us off a little bit. But it was a great effort. I just can’t believe the way these days are going."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 41ST
DO YOU KNOW THE CAUSE OF THE RIGHT FRONT TIRE BLOWING?
“Yeah, the first one, they said the bead blew on it. We don’t have any brake temp here, so I don’t know what could have caused that. That’s kind of a freak deal. The second one, it went soft. So there could have been some damage that caused it or some rub or something like that, and it went soft going into Turn 3 and I hit the wall, unfortunately. I’m disappointed. We certainly had an awesome race car. I wish we could have won this KOBALT race in this KOBALT car, but we’ll come back next week."
|2||78||Martin Truex Jr||Chevrolet||8||267||3||Running|
|4||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr||Chevrolet||4||267||4||Running|
|24||9||Sam Hornish Jr||Ford||29||265||0||Running|
|29||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr||Ford||31||264||0||Running|