On more than one occasion, this observer has opined today’s NASCAR is more about the race and the personalities than it is about the cars, with the age of the muscle car long gone. Among the glamor boys like Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards, the young guns like Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin, there’s needed to be a throwback kind of driver; a Joe Six-Pack kind of guy. Enter Kevin Harvick.
With Dale Jr. working to find his way back, with Tony Stewart’s fortunes stuck in second gear, NASCAR needs Kevin Harvick. On closer examination it may not be all that hard to understand why the blue collar types — male and female — could get into a 35-year old with thinning hair and sometimes snarky attitude, even if he’s not from NASCAR’s heartland.
Whether or not I like the way he always behaves, I’ll give him credit for his honesty. Some could argue the resurgence of Harvick’s team — Richard Childress Racing — came after a well-publicized spat with the owner during a lackluster 2009 season. His run-ins over the years with the likes of Ricky Rudd, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano and Edwards are evidence Happy suffers not the burden of political correctness.
His win at Martinsville Sunday, edging out friend and fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr., demonstrates that Harvick’s in it to win it. He fights. Of his five wins over the last season plus, how many have come on late passes? One thing you hear fans complain about is a driver who is willing to settle for a “good points day.” It’s hard to imagine those words coming from the guy with the Budweiser logo adorning his hood.
If you think about it, all that’s been described here is reminiscent of another racer who once drove for Richard Childress. It’s ironic, because most fans who have been around any length of time know that the 29 car was once the 3 car — made famous by a certain mustachioed fury by the name of Earnhardt. True, their places of origin differ, they have different backgrounds, and Harvick would have to go on an insane run over the next decade to accomplish what The Intimidator did, but a lot of those same traits and values are common to the two.
Kevin Harvick isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some say he whines too much, and for this fan, there’s just something there that reminds me too much of that smart aleck kid back in the day who was just too cool for school. Sometimes you just want to knock that smirk off his face, but you know better because he’ll re-arrange yours.
You can love him, you can hate him, but you can’t ignore him. Remember the NASCAR marketing campaign from a couple of years ago? In order for it to be “my, your, our NASCAR” there needs to be a Kevin Harvick.
He drives a Chevy, he’s sponsored by Bud, and he’s from a much less glamorous part of California than from where the Hollywood types hobnob. It’s a part of the Golden State that has also given us other rough and rugged NASCAR types like Ron Hornaday. Yes — I’d say for that fan who likes a little badness with the good, Kevin Harvick may be the perfect guy, and this year, he’s offering them a pleasing alternative to the MTV set.