INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Harvick was seething at his team after Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where his No. 4 Chevrolet lost 14 positions on pit stops.
As it turned out, the two events weren’t related.
“Nothing said after the race had anything to do with the weekend or anything on our pit stops,” Harvick told NBC Sports in a Thursday interview. “We feel really confident and good about everything we went through this week and everyone’s ready to go, so I’m excited about it.”
Crew chief Rodney Childers said Harvick’s frustration after New Hampshire stemmed from a disastrous test for Harvick’s car last week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Because of an assembly problem at the Stewart-Haas Racing shop, a faulty wire in the fuel cell caused the car’s electronics to go haywire when the crew attempted to start it at Indy, and the team lost three precious hours while painstakingly troubleshooting the problem.
“It messed up a lot of stuff,” Childers said. “So then you have to change one thing at a time until you figure out what’s wrong because you don’t really know what’s wrong.
“That’s not the way this team operates. We try to operate at a professional level and be the best there is in the garage. When you get accustomed to that and then you look like a bunch of monkeys trying to get a car to run, it’s not acceptable. We definitely learned something from that one, but it’s definitely time to start getting ready for the Chase.”
Childers said Stewart-Haas Racing held a four-hour meeting to clear the air Monday with all of its drivers, crew chiefs and executive management in attendance.
“It was the best meeting I’ve ever been in my whole Cup career,” he said. “Normally, you get people who get mad at each other when they say certain things and not one person got mad about anything, and everyone got everything off their chest. All of us had stuff that had been bothering us and stuff we needed to say, and sometimes you’re scared to say those things, but man, we all walked out of there ready to go kick some ass and win some races.”
Stewart-Haas Racing will switch to Ford next season, and the organization already has started building its own chassis. Childers said the team was working to keep the impending move from being a distraction.
“I think all of us kind of see that we have a huge deal coming up in December,” he said. “So I think that panics all of us out a little bit. We’ve got to prepare ourselves in the right way and get enough people in that shop to make sure we don’t flop when it comes to (next season).
“Not only are you worrying about racing, the pit crew and this. But you’ve got to worry about what you’re going to do next year. There’s a lot going on in all of our heads right now, and it’s trying to prepare the best we can.”
The two subpar pit stops at New Hampshire that cost Harvick 14 positions apparently were both related to mechanical problems involving the air guns and removal of lug nuts.
Childers declined to elaborate on what happened other than “it had nothing to do with the pit crew” and added that Harvick’s team has had excellent pit stops since making its most recent personnel change before Michigan International Speedway last month.
“They’ve done an excellent job,” he said. “We haven’t had any issues at all. We had great stops from the time we made the changes.
“We’re going to win some as a team, lose some as a team, but a lot of that was just frustration. We go to win and felt we had the best car there and didn’t win with it. So, anytime you’ve got a car that good, you need to take advantage of it. … We’ve got to start not making any mistakes, whether it’s at the shop or whether it’s here at the track.”