NASCAR great Kevin Harvick has no plans to quietly exit the NASCAR Cup Series


  • Kevin Harvick, a 22-year NASCAR Premium Series veteran, fills what he calls a need for a leader in the garage.
  • Mentoring of young drivers was common in the generation before Harvick because “these guys were all communicating and helping each other and knowing each other”.
  • It was a support system that helped Harvick tremendously in 2001 when he was pushed into Dale Earnhardt’s Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet after the death of the seven-time NASCAR champion at the season-opening Daytona 500.

    For more than a decade, young drivers in NASCAR’s top series have often faltered as they try to find their feet in the pressurized environment, but Kevin Harvick said Tuesday that last year’s safety issues related to the Next-generation car changed when support and mentoring were in place.

    “We’ve been working hard on it for the last year and a half, with all the safety stuff and things that we had going on, trying to get everyone to sit down a little bit more,” said Harvick, who announced earlier this month the 2023 would be his last full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series.

    Nascar Cup Series Championship Qualification

    Kevin Harvick has become a leading driver among Cup drivers and a mentor to the next generation of stars.

    Christian PetersonGetty Images

    “I think it’s important for these guys to have someone outside of their circle that they can trust to ask questions and really talk to about certain situations and know it’s going nowhere. That it’s between you two. The safety stuff really brought those conversations a little bit closer to home.”

    As a 22-year NASCAR Premium Series veteran, Harvick saw the need for a leader in the garage. An experienced driver who would give young drivers the kind of support and advice he received as a 25 year old driver. Mentoring of young drivers was common in the generation before Harvick because “these guys were all communicating and helping each other and knowing each other”. It was a support system that helped Harvick tremendously in 2001 when he was pushed into Dale Earnhardt’s Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet after the death of the seven-time NASCAR champion at the season-opening Daytona 500.

    “The day I took over Dale’s car at Rockingham, Dale Jarrett and Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. were the two drivers who got in the trailer and said, ‘Hey, we know it’s tough, but we are here to support you and, you know, get out there and drive that car hard.’”

    Harvick pointed to it Rusty Wallace and Jarrett as the two drivers he could always turn to for advice “when I was in trouble.” Later, Harvick and Tony Stewart often compared their notes.

    “One of the greatest relationships I’ve had was with Bobby Hamilton,” Harvick recalls. “Our little argument we had in Martinsville made us great friends. “

    This “spit” occurred in the 2001 Old Dominion 500. Hamilton executed a bump and run on Harvick, who retaliated by spinning Hamilton. NASCAR then called Harvick into the pit lane and imposed a lap penalty.

    Harvick admitted that the riders in his group didn’t follow in the footsteps of their predecessors when it came to mentoring, noting that maybe it was his fault “for not trying to connect that a little bit better”. He now sees some of the young drivers as his children. Becoming a father steered him in that direction. Being a parent with his two children gave him an idea of ​​what was going on with the younger riders and the challenges they faced.

    “There are so many sharks in this particular sport…”

    “There are so many sharks in this particular sport that many of them just don’t understand how to manage their time and all the things that are being asked of them,” Harvick said.

    “I have a genuine interest in sharing the things I’ve had the privilege of experiencing and where I’ve made mistakes. Some of them reach you and you don’t really hear much from them. Some of them reach you, and they end up having dinner with you or at your place for dinner. They need to know you’re there. Some of them can’t believe you reached out because they’re trying to figure out why you reached out to them or to understand why you care about the things they do. It’s just trying to set an example.”

    earlier this month, Harvick, Jeff Burton, Earnhardt Jr. and Justin Marks acquired the CARS Tour, a late model short-track series based in Mooresville, NC that began decades ago as the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series. It offers the four current and former drivers the opportunity to start mentoring the next generation of the sport at a young age.

    “There are many simple things that we can help with,” Harvick said. “Just being a part of the short track racing community is something that I think all four of us have felt like we’ve fallen short of for a long time.

    “It’s not just about the CARS Tour. This is really about short track racers across the country and giving them a bigger platform to showcase themselves as great racers.”

    Harvick said there’s no good reason it took 32-year-old Josh Berry so long — more than a decade — to get into a top NASCAR Xfinity Series drive with JR Motorsports.

    “We want to be able to contribute to the growth of the series and do it as best as we can with the competition… but make it known to a lot more people.”



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