Kevin Harvick Wins Bud Shootout

Kevin Harvick’s win in Saturday’s Bud Shootout was good news for NASCAR — and not simply because the fact that 28 cars took the green flag means fans can now focus on something other than the crappy economy and its impact on the sport.

Harvick’s win was not only impressive — he started 27th, on the back row, next to Jeff Gordon, hit the outside wall early in the race and lost the draft twice — but it offers the barest glimmer of hope that perhaps someone, anyone, please — other than Jimmie Johnson might do some damage in 2009. That the race itself was exciting and offered plenty of action is almost beside the point.

No, one win, in an unofficial event at that, really doesn’t mean a damn thing. Just ask Kyle Busch to discuss the relative value of early-season success. But Harvick’s win at least offers the possibility that change might be in the air; or, the very least, it gives us a few days to dream.

This is less an indictment of Jimmie Johnson’s Johnny Milquetoast personality than it is a vote for Harvick’s brand of petulance. Oh, who am I kidding, that’s not true — it is an indictment of the colorless Johnson who, right, wrong, or indifferent, just doesn’t resonate with the racing public. But that Johnson is colorless doesn’t change the fact that Harvick is colorful — and precisely what a beleaguered sport could use.

If Johnson is the kid who brings the teacher an apple every Monday, Harvick is the one who puts a tack on the substitute’s chair. Like Tony Stewart, another difficult sort, Harvick has been known to disdain questions from reporters that he deems silly; unpleasant for the questioner, certainly, but great material and a welcome break from the drivel most drivers routinely offer up. Harvick is also the guy who has no qualms about calling out other drivers for on-track stupidity, something he did last year at Watkins Glen after Juan Pablo Montoya ruined his day. And what about his fight with Carl Edwards in the Nationwide Series garage at Lowe’s Motor Speedway last fall?

Kevin Harvick: change we can believe in.