Harvick Proving Doubters Wrong
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on September 25, 2013 | 9:34 A.M. EST
Kevin Harvick's two wins and seven top-five finishes already have bettered his totals from last season. (Photo: Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE - Told ya so.
Those aren’t Kevin Harvick’s exact words, but the message is essentially the same for those who doubted Harvick going into this season - his final year with Richard Childress Racing.
A full season as a lame-duck driver had many leaving Harvick off their preseason lists to make the Chase, yet he made it and has two victories heading into this weekend’s race at Dover International Speedway.
It’s just like he said at the beginning of the year. He and his team would race and not focus on his move to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
“It’s just a matter of going out and having fun,’’ Harvick said during an appearance at the NASCAR Hall of Fame “I think all the guys on the team have had fun this year, along with myself. If you have a bad week, you just let it go.’’
He’s had to do that this week. After finishing third in the opening Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway, Harvick stumbled last weekend at New Hampshire. He placed 20th and dropped to sixth in the points.
Harvick admits the team knew it would struggle there. Richard Childress Racing had scheduled a test session there but it was rained out and never rescheduled. The result was that Harvick placed ahead of only one of the 13 Chase drivers - Kasey Kahne who did not finish after crashing.
“That’s about it as far as a mulligan,’’ Harvick said.
With eight races left in the Chase, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson have separated from the field. The past six years the eventual champion was in the top three points after the second Chase race. Harvick doesn’t worry about history.
“For us, it's really about just going out and doing what you can week in and week out, and where you fall is where you fall,’‘ he said. “If Matt keeps doing the things that he's doing and winning every race, it's going to be hard for anybody to make up points.’’
In some ways, Kenseth has provided a guidepost for Harvick in his transition to a new team. Kenseth left Roush Fenway Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing after last season.
“It definitely gives you a lot of hope,’’ Harvick said of Kenseth’s season. “Matt was a lot of the inspiration ... of how I wanted it to end with Richard. My goal all along has to be able to shake hands with Richard after Homestead and move on.’’
One of the challenges for Harvick was that when he signed with Stewart-Haas Racing late last year, the team did not have any sponsorship for his car. Only four of 38 total races remain unsponsored now with Budweiser taking 20 races, Outback Steakhouse two and Jimmy John’s announcing Tuesday that they’ll be the primary sponsor for 12 races.
“Part of the intrigue of the Stewart‑Haas situation was for me when I signed my contract, we had no sponsor, no team, no number, nothing and from a contractual side, I couldn't really be involved in any of the sponsorship stuff that was going,’’ Harvick said.
“It's been an interesting time for me because in the past we have been so involved in the things that are going on. But to see Budweiser and Jimmy John's and to have Outback come on board next year is pretty satisfying for me.’’