Kevin Harvick took his seat on the Kentucky Speedway media center stage, looked around the room and offered the hint of a smile.
"This is what our sport needs," he said. "New events, new facilities for us to race on."
Harvick, who has long been a proponent of NASCAR traveling to different tracks and thus reaching different groups of fans, was clearly pleased about the Sprint Cup Series' arrival at the Kentucky track for the first time.
"Change is good," he said. "I've been preaching that we need to go to different racetracks for a long time, because as you can see, the enthusiasm and the excitement and the publicity and everything that comes with a new venue, that lasts for several years."
The Kentucky race is already an announced sellout of 107,000.
Harvick also touched on several other issues, including today's fuel injection test session and the Nationwide Series' move to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, calling it "a big day for our sport in general."
• On fuel injection: Harvick said next year's switch from carburetors to fuel injection (the engine technology used in all modern street cars) is "a huge step for the sport."
"To make the cars relevant with what's on the street, it's huge for the manufacturers to have that," he said.
Harvick, though, doesn't plan to drive his team's car with fuel injection today – unless team owner Richard Childress makes him.
"Because it doesn't really matter what it feels like or what it does," he said. "When you switch to it, you adapt to whatever those characteristics are and you forget about whatever's in there."
• On how teams will use today's test session: Sprint Cup teams hardly ever get the opportunity to test on a 1.5-mile track these days, so Harvick said teams will spend time trying a variety of different ideas that could apply to any number of other venues.
Because of a recent tire test, most teams already have the Kentucky data needed to set up their cars on a seven-post shaker rig. So the focus will be on a "checklist" of concepts, Harvick said, more than just using today's session to learn about Kentucky Speedway in advance of Saturday night's inaugural Cup race.
• Kentucky Speedway isn't a cookie-cutter track: Harvick said the 1.5-mile track doesn't necessarily translate to a Kansas or Chicagoland-type circuit because its corners are shaped differently. In addition, there are several significant bumps on the front straightaway and the track is quite rough – and both are good things that add character, Harvick said.
• For a Nationwide Series owner, the move from Lucas Oil Raceway to Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a good thing: Harvick said the Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly ORP/IRP) event was always difficult to sell from a team sponsorship standpoint; but sponsors will get excited about moving to the Brickyard, he said.
"ORP has been a huge part of the series up until this point," he said. "You would love to see it get worked out to see the Truck series stay there or have the ARCA series come there, but when you have the opportunity to go to the Brickyard... It's no different than coming here. The enthusiasm is up."
And to those who believe the Nationwide cars shouldn't be racing on the Indy's historic oval?
"Our biggest facility is Daytona and all of our series run there, so what makes Indianapolis any more special than Daytona?" he said. "If our cars are good enough to run on the Daytona International Speedway, they're plenty good enough to run at the Brickyard."