RICKY CARMICHAEL Q & A
October 3, 2008
Ricky Carmichael, No. 33 Kevin Harvick, Inc. Chevrolet, will make his first start in the ARCA RE/MAX 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. He qualified ninth (9th) for Friday’s race.
Carmichael has retired as one most successful motorcycle racers in history. His stellar career included: five (5) AMA Supercross championships; 10 AMA National outdoor championships; 150 professional race victories; Multiple titles in the worldwide Motocross-of-Nations event; X Games Gold Medals - Moto X racing and step-up competition and first rider to record an undefeated season in the AMA National Outdoor Championships, winning 24 motos without a defeat in the 250cc category in 2002 and again in 2004.
Carmichael is currently seventh (7th) in the NASCAR Camping World East Series point standings in his rookie season. With one race remaining, Carmichael has three (3) top-five and seven (7) top-10 finishes with one (1) pole position driving for Ken Schrader Racing.
TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT: “It was fast, fast. Enjoyed it though. It is a start. Get her up to speed and go.”
HOW DID THIS DEAL WITH KEVIN HARVICK, INC. COME TOGETHER? “Kevin Harvick contacted me, probably now it has been two months ago. In order to do trucks next year, we need to get qualified at a superspeedway to race Daytona next year. In order to that, we had to race here in an ARCA car. So, Kevin got an ARCA car and put me in it to try to gear up.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE LEARNED A LOT THIS YEAR IN THE CAMPING WORLD SERIES? “You know, I have really learned a lot this year. I feel like now I am driving the car better, as good as it needs to be driven. Like anything, I am so new at it; it is obviously going to take some learning time. I feel that I can do it and obviously KHI has great equipment, that is a foot in the right direction right there.”
HAS IT BEEN MORE OR LESS DIFFICULT THAN YOU EXPECTED TO MAKE THE TRANSISTION FROM MOTORCYCLES TO CARS? “It has been tough, just the way I thought it would be. We are racing against a bunch of great drivers. It is going to be tough. These guys have been doing it for a long time. I have missed out on a lot of seat time. But at the same time, I have done a lot of racing my whole life basically. It has been tough; to answer your question, but it is what I expected.”
WHAT WERE YOUR FEELINGS WHEN YOU GOT THE CALL FROM KEVIN HARVICK? “It felt good. I would like to think he saw some talent in me and believes in my abilities. For me, that makes me feel really good because everything was good with Ginn Racing, then that deal went sour. I am just happy to be in the position that I am in now. With all the stuff that happened, I feel pretty fortunate. I can make this thing happen, trust me; I will do everything I can to keep it going. I am just very thankful that he has trust and faith in me that I can make this happen.”
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN THE SEAT OF THE PANTS FEEL BETWEEN A MOTORCYCLE AND A STOCK CAR? “You are on the seat of your pants in these things to, that’s the thing. What I like about this is it is something that can give me the opportunity to get that competitive feel that I like so much. It is something that I feel like I can do for a long time. I kinda of get my fix. Like I said, it is very hard. I am racing against a bunch of guys that have done it since they were five years old, like I started riding motorcycles when I was five. So, it is the same feeling.”
WHEN YOU RACE AT THE DAYTONA IN STOCK CARS, WILL YOU HAVE THE URGE TO GO IN THE INFIELD (REFERRING TO DAYTONA SUPERCROSS)? “(LAUGHS) Well, no. But when I go to Daytona, when I drive underneath that tunnel, I get this special feeling. I think that is why I always did good there on a motorcycle. I would love to race a car there, that would be my dream. I just get a great feeling when I come up from underneath that tunnel; it is like ‘Man, I love this place.’
“But yea. I wish we could put a motorcycle track in the infield there or in the tri-oval area there and get all these guys from the cars and do a little race (LAUGHS). We would be on an even playing field then.”
IN THE CAMPING WORLD SERIES, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE BEEN ON AN EVEN PLAYING FIELD? “I am racing guys that have much more experience than me and much more seat time. I feel I have adapted quick to it. I have gotten a pole. I never even came close to that in the little amount of late model racing that I did. To be honest with you, I have exceeded my goals and have had some great finishes. I have surprised myself. I am where I need to be. With that Ginn thing happening, it have obviously taken my learning rate and progressed it a lot faster that I wanted it go be but, you know what, it is what it is. It is something you have no control of; you have to deal with what you were given.”
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND THE MOST DIFFICULT? “The hardest that I have noticed is how close everybody is and how hard it is to find a tenth. Trying to learn what I can do to make up that extra tenth, whether it is car, a lot of it is probably me at times. You can’t blame it on the car all the time. I think we have great equipment at (Ken) Schrader’s. It is tough to find where they are making up the time. The line to me seems pretty easy; it is just getting to the throttle quick and learning how to setup your car to go fast.”
WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO GAIN OUT OF TOMORROW’S RACE? “I want to obviously get the best finish we can get, but learn the draft. That is what we are here to do-finish the race, finish as good as we can and learn the dos and the don’ts about being in the draft. Learn what the car works like, that is what we are here for.”
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST THOUGHT WHEN YOU WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR FIRST DRAFTING PRACTICE? “I didn’t think ‘Whoa, what am I doing here’, but I couldn’t believe how much you move around in the draft, I really couldn’t. That blew me away. We are just all over the place. That is what amazed me the most. It is a pretty neat feeling. You know, I have seen it on TV, to actually be in it, I look forward in it with a lot more guys. I think the feeling will be even more of an experience.”
WERE YOU SURPRISED HOW CLOSE THE CARS ARE OUT THERE? “Yea, yea, well the thing about motorcycles is they are so much smaller so if someone makes a mistake, it is easier to get away from it especially if you are side-by-side. Now if you are behind someone on a motorcycle, it is hurt more than likely. You know what, either one can be bad when you are racing side-by-side like that. I don’t think there is any escape from that.”
IF YOU RUN THIS RACE TOMORROW, DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE TO RUN TRUCKS FULL TIME NEXT YEAR? “I am not sure. I know we are racing this to get experience for Daytona and I think it may make me eligible, from what I have been told, but I am not sure. I would love to race some truck stuff if that is what I have to do to get qualified for next year’s Daytona.”
DO YOU THINK YOUR MOTORCYCLE FANS WILL FOLLOW YOU TO STOCK CARS? “Yes, they will. It has really been cool to see the people say ‘I have never really watched NASCAR but now that you are going there, we’re going to be following it’. The neat thing is, the people who have been to see me race, how much they like it. Every motorsports fan, especially NASCAR, I would say 70% of them have seen a motorcycle race and like it. That is the cool thing about motorsports fan is they love all forms of racing.”