Former MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES champion Kevin Harvick was a driver analyst on Monday’s NASCAR RACE HUB on FS1 with Shannon Spake and Larry McReynolds, covering a variety of topics ranging from Saturday night’s race at Kentucky Speedway and Brad Keselowski’s post-race comments to the current playoff picture. Below are select quotes from Monday’s show:
On whether Brad Keselowski’s post-race comments on racing and the sense of urgency on restarts were warranted:
“The sense of urgency on restarts is definitely something that has come into play, and I think it’s been that way for a number of years now, especially with the stage racing. Stage racing adds a new element of frustration to those restarts because you get to do them consistently every week. I think that has been really good for the fans. I understand Brad probably was frustrated after the race and probably said some things that he wishes he hadn’t said. It was a frustrating finish, but I know Brad – he’s a leader in our sport. And we talk about the cars and the aero side of things and what we need to do a lot in our driver council meetings, and there’s definitely an ongoing conversation about what we need to do."
“We know he was very frustrated. They’re missing a little bit of speed right now in the No. 2 car, and that’s two weeks in a row he was caught up in a wreck. I certainly respect his opinion, and I know we can always make things better. If we ever just sit back, that’s when we’re going to be in trouble … Kevin (Harvick) and I were talking during a commercial break. We feel like the big next step is to work on some of the race tracks. I don’t necessarily mean reconfigure them, (but) just start working more with this ‘grip strip’ like we’ve worked with a couple of times this year."
On takeaways from Saturday night’s race at Kentucky Speedway:
“The 78 and 42 still are really fast. That’s the benchmark we’ve seen all year, and on the mile-and-a-half race tracks, obviously, everybody is paying attention. For the rest of us, we definitely have a little work to do."
On how the domination of one team affects the rest of the field:
“It puts a lot of pressure on the race teams just because of the fact you want to try to close that gap. I know for not only our team, but all the other teams in the garage, you’re looking at pictures, you’re looking at data, you’re looking at lap times. You’re looking at anything you can wrap your arms around to say, ‘Ok, where do we need to get what better? What do we need to work on?’ And everybody’s going to have a plan to say, ‘We’re going to make our bodies better. We’re going to try this in upcoming weeks at this particular race track and try to close that gap.’"
On the frustration for teams when wins don’t come, despite strong performances:
“You can’t force it, and that’s the biggest thing. You know what happens when you start trying to force things in this sport. You start making mistakes, you start getting frustrated … the two biggest things you have to control are the morale of the team and not trying to force things and start making too many mistakes."
On whether the No. 42 and 78 are motivating each other every week:
“It’s really good and they’re obviously doing really good during the regular season, but I think you’ll see a lot of these teams catch up a bit as we get to the playoffs because that’s how long it will take to make those cars better and get them into production by the time we get into the playoffs."
On the playoff picture:
“It is nerve-racking when you don’t have a win, and you see as many winners as we’ve had this year … it’s a stressful situation not having a win at this point in the year and being close on the points side because you just don’t know how many guys are going to win."
“Now that we’re 18 races in with this format, it has put an importance on everything. Look at the stage points – Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth are a great example. There was a three-point differential between them going into Kentucky. Joey finished eighth and Kenseth 17th, but because Kenseth scored 13 stage points and Logano scored none, he (Kenseth) actually opened the gap. It’s all about stage wins, stage points, regular season points and race wins. Everything about every race is really important."
On Kyle Larson’s performance after starting from the rear of the field at Kentucky:
“He’s a special breed. He’s driving a really fast car right now, but he knows how to race. He knows how to pass. When you put him in that position in the back of the field, it almost creates a challenge for him that ‘I’m going to show you that I can pass. I’m going to show you how fast my race car is,’ and it almost becomes a game for him."