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Kevin Harvick takes a jab at Mike Ford for taking a jab at Chad Knaus' pit crew swap

   Kevin Harvick: All business here, and ready to rumble (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    By Mike Mulhern



    Expect to see a very aggressive Kevin Harvick here Sunday: "We have nothing to lose and everything to gain," he says of his now two-race chase to catch Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR championship playoffs.
   "There's no defense. You just have to go on offense and take, take, take.

"The worst we can finish in the points is third."
    That's precisely where Harvick and crew chief Gil Martin are heading into Sunday's 500-K at this flat one-mile, 59 points behind leader Denny Hamlin.
    And Hamlin says of the three men vying for the title, Harvick is easily the most aggressive.
    In the six years of the chase-format championship, the points leader with two races to go has gone on to win the title.
    But Harvick would like to go against the flow.
   "Whatever it takes to gain is what you do....There's really nothing else that matters at this point," Harvick says. 
    "Just throw it all out there and if it gets rough, it gets rough.
     "It's still a no-pressure, no-lose situation for us, and I like it, I like coming from behind. I like when people write us off. That's kind of like how everybody's been my whole career."
   Hardly. Harvick has the season's best finishing record.
   "When you get ahead, then you can play a little defense. With everything so close, it's all offense," Harvick says. 
   "The tone has been set that anything less than probably winning a race or two in the next two weeks....
    "You're going to have to go take it.
     "All three teams are capable of performing.  Denny did it last week; he went out and took it at the end of that race.
    "I think over the next two weeks it's going to be who takes that control.
    "And there's no room for defense."

    Harvick then took a jab at Mike Ford, Hamlin's crew chief, for Ford's aggressive post-victory comments about rival crew chief Chad Knaus, Johnson's team boss, for Knaus' surprising move 'benching' his pit crew.
    "I think Mike should take his own advice to his driver and not insert your foot into your mouth," Harvick said. "The comments he made after the race about being better than Jimmie's team, and all that stuff, he's just trying to stir stuff up.
    "But whatever it takes to win is what you've got to do.
    "The only good thing that comes from being cocky like that is you better win...because if you don't, you're going to have to answer a lot of questions.
    "When you're trying to intimidate the guy who's won four championships in a row, I think you might need to go rethink your strategy.
    "It's not really something that was probably necessary.
    "It's one thing to be cocky around your team. But when you want to be cocky publicly, you have one place to go, and that's to back it up. And you're not going to back it up in this sport forever." 
    Of course at times Harvick has tried to intimidate Hamlin, like at Dover, when Hamlin was critical of controversial Loudon winner Clint Bowyer.

    At Texas Ford picked the pit road box just in front of Johnson and Knaus, he said to try to rattle the rivals.
   While that might have worked there, Harvick says it can easily backfire: "When you're racing a guy that's running in about the same spot on the track, it becomes a total nightmare for both teams (pitting), whether you're in front or behind. 
    "It becomes tough to make quality pit stops.
    "The pit stalls are a lot smaller here...so who knows what's going to happen."
    Harvick himself? "I tend to get frustrated in those situations and just gas it, and make sure that guy (pitting in front, as Hamlin did at Texas) doesn't stop too short (in the pit box).  It aggravates the rear tire changer because you just get a little too close to him."
    Johnson, Harvick says, may have the psychological edge here, not only because he's had by far the best finishing record at this track but because he would want to rebound from last weekend's problems.
    "It's going to be an interesting weekend," Harvick muses.  "Everybody's got their own feelings about things...about where we are and what we need to do and how we need to do it. 
   "I can tell you right now that we're paying attention to everything that's going on -- whether it's things being said, heard... everything that's going on the  track -- and just looking for that one opening to pounce on somebody. 
    "Pay attention to everything -- and look for any opening to gain an advantage over the other team.
    "We're in a great position because of the pressure on our team is very low.  And we have those two guys going back and forth with each other, while we're just sitting back doing what we need to do.
   "Win or lose, it's all about racing for that championship. You look back and that's easy for us to say, considering where we were last year: We weren't anywhere even close to where we are this year."


   Daytona's new asphalt won't be ready for Goodyear's planned early December (7-8) tire test, and the tire company should know in the next few days if the track will be ready for testing on the second week in December. Goodyear would like to have at least a dozen or more teams at the test, to validate its new Daytona 500 tires before the late January 500 test for the NASCAR season opener.

   So just what does Chevy's new Indy-car engine program really mean?
   The GM announcement Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – that Roger Penske, and undoubtedly others, will field Indy-car teams powered by a new twin-turbo V6 – is being greeted here in NASCAR with curious question.
   For one, why?
   Two, who will be in charge of the new GM-Indy program.
   Three, how much will it cost?
   Four, who really made the call?
   Other than the Penske connection, GM's move doesn't appear to make much sense, unless it comes at a sweet price.
   NASCAR's TV ratings may be in a slump, but the Indy Racing League (on Versus) has had years of dulled ratings, below NASCAR's own Triple-A Nationwide series.
   The IRL has only two 'super' teams, one owned by Penske, the other owned by Chip Ganassi. Sponsorship is a significant problem; Tony Kanaan, the 2004 Indy-car champion, just lost his ride when his sponsor pulled out, and now NASCAR's Kyle Busch is talking with Kanaan about moving to NASCAR's Truck tour next season.
   Honda has been the Indy-car tour's lone engine supplier since 2005, when Toyota and Chevrolet both withdrew, during a wave of increasing team subsidies.
   Randy Bernard, the new IRL boss, since April, is charged with reversing the league's fortunes, but he was just hit with a wave of withdrawals from the France family's International Speedway Corp., with Homestead, Chicago, Watkins Glen, and Kansas all dropping their Indy-car races for 2011. And NASCAR boss Brian France curtly rejected Bernhard's pitch for some NASCAR-Indy-car double-header weekends.
   The announcement said that Ilmor, the long-time engine operation, will be dropping its current Honda Indy-car program and moving to the new Chevy program. Ilmor engineers have been working on some of Penske's NASCAR Dodge stuff this season.

   Robby Gordon says the Chevy-to-Indy move is just perfect for him, and he says he'll be a part of the new Chevy Indy operation. Gordon is preparing to run next spring's Indy 500 with his own team (it will of course have to be with a Honda engine). And Gordon says he expects to make the NASCAR jump next season from Toyota back to Chevrolet.
  Gordon, who heads back to Mexico in a couple of days to run the Baja 1000, says he's one of five men with a shot to win the 16-hour marathon. But it hasn't been such a great year for Gordon, who last year's off-road championship but who this year has been hit with mechanical issues, most recently with his off-road transmission.
  Gordon had fun with this week's 'pre-run' through the Baja:    http://yfrog.com/2t819fj
  Actually that photo was staged. The police car had just run out of gas and the policemen were trying to borrow a couple of gallons. However the Mexican police have been handing out speeding fines to Baja runners during those brief segments, so Gordon and his guys were a bit worried for a moment. Then Gordon rallied to the moment and persuaded the police to play the photo-op game.
  By the way, Gordon said it was not true that the Specialized bike company was suing him over the 'S' he is using for his new energy drink: "I'm suing Specialized, because I've had that 'S' for years."

   Shane Hmiel, recovering from some devastating injuries in a Sprint car crash last month, (updates at http://on.fb.me/9zZB0z ) is facing mounting hospital bills. So a number of fund raisers are planned;
   -- November 17th, at Lake Norman, N.C., a silent auction at the Rusty Rudder, and then a party hosted by Shane's brother Tyler at the Comedy Zone above Galway Hooker.
   -- November 30th, at Indianapolis, a silent auction at Lucas Oil Stadium the opening night of the International Motorsports Industry Show, followed by a party at Jillians.
   -- December 5th, at Concord, N.C., a cart race on a track behind 'the Joi of Seating' race shop.


  The latest photo of Daytona's new repaving project (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

I wonder what the "new"

I wonder what the "new" restrictor plate is going to be when they race at Daytona? You know they're gonna hit over 200mph without the draft.

From the email bag:

In the article entitled "Kevin Harvick takes a jab at Mike Ford for taking a jab at Chad Knaus' pit crew swap" , you wrote: "The announcement said that Ilmor, the long-time engine operation, will be dropping its current Honda Indy-car program and moving to the new Chevy program. Ilmor engineers have been working on some of Penske's NASCAR Dodge stuff this season. However Penske no longer owns Ilmor; that part of his portfolio was sold to John Menard."

There are two Ilmors. There's Ilmor Engineeering, Ltd. ("Ilmor England") and Ilmor Engineering, Inc. ("Ilmor USA"). Penske has always been a co-owner in the USA operation (http://www.ilmor.com/engineering/about.html). In addition to the NASCAR program for Chrysler, the USA operation also rebuilds a sizeable number of Honda engines for IndyCar. My understanding, while the original IndyCar Honda engine was designed by Ilmor USA, Honda Performance Development (HPD) have long ago taken over the R & D for that engine.

Ilmor England is with whom Chevy will contract to design their new IndyCar engine. In the predecessor to Ilmor England, Chevy (through General Motors) was a co-owner with Penske and two owners, Mario Ilien and Paul Morgan. In 1994, Chevy was squeezed out when Mercedes bought in. From 2002-2005, Mercedes bought out Penske and the other two founders to focus the companies efforts solely upon F1. In turn, Penske and Ilien purchased the non-F1 portion of the company along with the Ilmor name.

Confused? So is their own the company "timeline": http://www.ilmor.com/profile/index.html

As to John Menard, in 2003, with Eddie Cheever, he bought a unit of Tom Walkinshaw Racing's bankrupt enterprise (TWR Engines) to create Menard-Cheever Technologies. They were responsible for building the Infinity engine which ran in the IRL, along with the Indy Lights Infinity engine contract. It is now known as known as Menard Competition Technologies, and can design and build an engine from scratch. To make things more even more confusing, earlier this year, Menard sold Menard Engine Group of Indianapolis to a group of IndyCar folk (including driver Davey Hamilton), which was selling some MCT products, but were originally the developer of the incredibly powerful engines which Menard ran at Indy with his own team.

Completely bored by this explanation? So am I.

But hope this helps!


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