Don't Worry, Be Happy
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on May 3, 2013 | 3:04 P.M. EST
Kevin Harvick won this years Sprint Unlimited at Daytona
For all that can go wrong, for all fury and fuss that racing at Talladega Superspeedway can deliver, Kevin Harvick has a simple philosophy.
“You don’t worry about things you can’t control,’’ he said Friday at Talladega.
A rudimentary doctrine but he is not alone in that belief. Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose pointed criticism of the racing last year gained attention, also takes a care-free attitude into this weekend.
“You really have to be able to put that behind you fast,’’ Earnhardt said.
It’s not always that simple, though.
Last fall’s race ended with a last-lap 25-car crash that left many frustrated, including Earnhardt. He said Friday that he “regretted’’ the harsh comments he made after the race.
Harvick, who also was involved in that incident but finished 11th, says that he just accepts what can happen at Talladega.
“I enjoy restrictor-plate racing. It’s intriguing to me that you can go somewhere and you can race all day, and, I know a lot of people might think that you’re crazy for thinking like it’s fun, but it is fun. I know the end result doesn’t look like it’s fun, it’s a lot of work for the guys to fix the cars, it’s dangerous, but that thought of being able to push and shove. It’s kind of like you’re at the go-kart track with your buddies.
“That’s really how you would race, especially at the end. You’re pushing whoever is in front of you no matter what color, what brand, what driver, who you hate, who you don’t hate.
“Sometimes you push too hard, sometimes somebody else pushes too hard and you’re in their mess. You get out and go home. For me I’ve just always just tried to approach it with that I don’t-care-attitude, just do whatever you have to do to try to put yourself in position. If you leave here and you wreck, you can’t be mad. It’s just part of the game.’’
While talent and luck also play a factor, that type of attitude has played a role in Harvick’s success on restrictor-plate tracks. He won the 2007 Daytona 500. He won The Sprint Unlimited and his qualifying race this year before he was involved in a nine-car crash in this year’s Daytona 500. He also has a Talladega win and has 10 top-10 finishes in 24 starts at that track.
“You see a lot of guys driving themselves crazy about having to come to Talladega, and complaining about what they think is right, what they think is wrong,’’ Harvick said. “It’s just a race. It really is. You know what’s going to happen coming into the race.
“That mindset is kind of a (Richard Childress Racing) mindset that was installed when I started the restrictor-plate races. Richard has never been one to really get on you about having wrecked cars at the speedways. He knows the position you get put in as a driver.
“You have to go for it. You have to be smart about it. You have to be in position at the end of the race. You have to take some chances. It’s definitely better to have a good mindset about it and not let yourself just completely get torn up about what would you change and how you would change it. This is a part of NASCAR racing, has been for a long time. You might as well just enjoy it.’’