Kevin Harvick was in town for the Super Bowl and stopped by my office to talk about the upcoming season before heading home. I had a chance to pick his brain about some of the things going on in NASCAR this year.
Q: What are your thoughts on Daytona with the repaving? You’re the Daytona King. People say you can see the air. Are we going to see some side-by-side action?
Harvick: It will be interesting. I think it will be an exciting race. The fans are really going to like it.
Q: But are you guys going to like it?
Harvick: It doesn't matter. That's our job. Some forget they could be working in a gas station or doing something else.
Q: Yeah I don't know many people who work in gas stations that own private jets.
Harvick: Yep. You just gotta go do your job, push the pedal down and shut up. I always tell people you could have a real job. We're all pretty lucky.
Q: So what do you think about the new rule about only competing for one championship? Is it going to change how many races you run?
Harvick: No. The only reason we run them anyway is to win. It's not going to change anything.
Q: So what you're saying is running multiple series is just about racing?
Harvick: Absolutely. If you can learn one thing for a Cup race, it's worth it. Especially now with the way the tires and the chassis are the same. The engines have a lot of power so it's not like it used to be, from car to car, but there are still a lot of similarities. The coolest thing about the new Nationwide cars is that they look badass.
Q: This ethanol stuff ... Is that a problem for you guys?
Harvick: The fuel mileage is a little worse, but the biggest issue that you're going to instantly see is going to be the gas cans with no catch-can guy, because the flow of the fuel with the new head of the gas can is about a second-two seconds slower than the pit stops. So you're going to have this huge gamble of just taking off when the tires are tight or waiting on gas. Then the second problem is that it doesn't go very far into the car, so the gas man can't really feel it. And if it's cocked one way or the other, it just spills. As soon as you pull that can out, it creates an air bubble. And when you put it back in, it flows about two seconds slower.
You'll see more races won or lost on fuel mileage than you've seen in your whole life. It's going to be great on the strategy side, because people are going to wait on gas and if you have a green flag run, you're going to have all the guys that waited on gas sitting out there making laps and hoping for a caution. And then you'll have all the guys short-pitting that didn't fill up with gas. So it's definitely going to be interesting.
Q: Do you think race fans like strategy races? Because in my opinion, I don't like it when drivers win races by going slower because they're stretching out on fuel.
Harvick: It's like any sports team coming back from a huge points deficit and winning the race. But strategy is always going to be an element of the sport. If you take out strategy, you're flirting with disaster. Everyone needs to wrap their arms around strategy in my opinion.