On Thursday, 48 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers tested at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to try out the 2014 intermediate track rules package that was handed down by NASCAR prior to the start of the season. Changes teams are getting used to include a statically set race car ride height, a square leading edge on the splitter, side skirt and rear fascia adjustments, an eight-inch rear spoiler and a 43-inch X 13-inch radiator pan. The session was also an opportunity to get some extra track time at LVMS, site of Sunday’s Kobalt 400.
Kevin Harvick, winner of last weekend’s The Profit on CNBC 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, was the fastest during the session. Harvick ran a total of 42 laps and acheived a top speed of 190.148 mph.
After the session, Harvick spoke with the media about the test session, his win at Phoenix and his recent move to Stewart-Haas Racing to drive the No. 4 Chevrolet. Here’s what he had to say:
HOW DID THE TEST HERE AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY GO FOR YOU AND THE NO. 4 CHEVROLET?
“I thought it went really well. We struggled in the beginning just to get the feel. It took us a couple of hours to kind of get everything situated and get the balance of the car right. Then we felt pretty good about it after that. Changed a lot of stuff and did a lot of different things to the car. Felt like we made good head way in the end and hopefully we can progress on that tomorrow and make it even better.”
HOW ENCOURAGING IS IT FOR YOU TO SEE YOURSELF ON TOP OF THE SPEED CHARTS AGAIN COMING OFF A TON OF MOMENTUM THAT YOU ALREADY HAVE? IS THAT JUST MORE CONFIDENCE FOR YOU GUYS?
“I think the best thing that happened today is the car didn’t run very fast at the beginning of the practice. We were three or four tenths off and had to kind of abort on what we were doing and go a different route. The next route was not as good and the third route finally wound up being good. I think those are good things that are, for us, important because it gives us direction when we go to other mile and a half race tracks so we don’t have to do like we did today. We can get to what has been working for us and just go straight from there to progress that package to make it even better. I thought that was probably the best thing that came out of today. We ran really well last week and coming here and running really well right out of the box probably wouldn’t have been the best thing in the world just for the fact that it’s good for those guys to know that sometimes you’ve got to keep working at it. It’s good for all of us to have to work at it and communicate and do things that you are going to have to do throughout the year to overcome things. That was good. I would rather of had us struggle at the beginning of the day and have to work through things and communicate well with each other. Just nobody gets wound up and everybody just gives the information and they are good at inputting all the information and trying different things. Today was a good example of that.”
YOU HAVE DONE A LOT OF TESTING IN YOUR RACING CAREER. HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS ONE GIVEN ALL THE RULE CHANGES TO THE CAR? HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE THROUGHOUT THE SEASON?
“Well we have already done a lot of testing. Well I say a lot, we have done three or four tests as we have led into the season. We have been able to gather a lot of information already, but you just never know where you stand until you get to the race track. Some of the things that we had tried earlier in the year and we tried some different routes today and so when you see where you stack up it kind of gives you a better idea of where you stand. I think it was a good day for us.”
GIVEN THE PREVALENCE THESE DAYS OF COMPUTER MODELING AND SIMULATION WERE YOU SURPRISED TO FIND THAT MUCH ADJUSTABILITY IN THE CAR AND WERE YOU SURPRISED TO FIND THE NEED TO ADJUST ON IT THAT MUCH?
“We have a lot of things we can adjust on the cars this year. A lot of those adjustments, there are some really sensitive spots, the jack screws and things are much more sensitive than they have been in the past. NASCAR has kind of given us some different things that will help us be able to make bigger swings at the car during the race that are very sensitive and still kind of fresh in the simulation. So it’s not 100 percent right as you go through some of the travels and different things. So our travels and things were off a fair amount, not a fair amount, but they were off in the beginning of the test. So we just got all those right and with the data and things on the car today you can kind of get a better idea of where you were and hopefully go back and zero in on all that and make it better as you go into the next few weeks.”
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR