News & Media

Son's birth makes Harvick truly Happy

July 14, 2012, Joe Menzer,

LOUDON, N.H. -- Relief about no longer being an expectant father could show on the track

If you thought Kevin Harvick was happy before, look out now. After the birth of his first child Sunday, the Richard Childress Racing driver is living up to the nickname handed to him long ago.

Harvick and his wife, DeLana, welcomed Keelan Paul Harvick 15 days before his projected due date.

Protective father

Really? Keelan Paul Harvick has his own Twitter account, at 5 days old. Yes, it's true. "Well, Keelan has his own everything because I didn't want some crazy-ass fan getting ahold of his Twitter name or a website with his name on it," Kevin Harvick said. "So he has everything that you can imagine from top to bottom, more for personal security and a piece of mind than anything else. "He owns them all. He doesn't have his own web page nor need one. It's more to protect him more than anything else." Asked if Keelan had a go-kart yet, Harvick replied: "No go-karts. We're looking for golf clubs and hoping to go in a different direction. But whatever he ends up wanting to do."

Speaking about the experience publicly for the first time Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he'll run both the Nationwide and the Sprint Cup Series race this weekend, Harvick couldn't stop grinning.

"It's definitely been a change, but nothing as bad as everyone had made it sound like, for sure. It's been great," Harvick said. "It's definitely the most rewarding thing. It's the best moment I've gotten to experience in my life, so that was pretty neat."

When he was done talking about the joy of becoming a father for the first time, Harvick also mentioned the relief he felt about no longer being an expectant father and how that might translate into better performances for the No. 29 Chevrolet on the race track.

At 7:30 a.m. Saturday, July 7, roughly 12 hours before the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Harvick climbed aboard a private jet with his wife and headed back to North Carolina with her. He said Friday that had DeLana experienced the same sort of labor pains that morning and early afternoon that she did the following morning, when Keelan eventually was born, he would not have returned to Florida for the race.

"There is nothing more important than family. Nothing here, for sure. The entire race team understood exactly where I stood on that," Harvick said.

Once he was certain DeLana would not go into labor before he could return following the race, Harvick flew back to Daytona to compete. He finished seventh.

The next morning, back in North Carolina, he had to do some more serious driving when he realized what was up.

"I had to drive her to the hospital. My only goal was not to get yelled at," Harvick said.

That came later.

"I was obviously not her favorite person when they told her they wouldn't give her an epidural," Harvick said. "But she did good. She had it all natural, no drugs, had a healthy, happy baby boy. Everybody's good and home and doing normal things now."

For Harvick, coming to the race track for the weekend is the normal way of life. For the first time in weeks, he feels like he did so this weekend without being distracted.

"It's nice to come to the race track now, to be honest with you. Over the last few weeks, the anxiety over this and what was going to happen with the baby was almost overwhelming at times," Harvick said. "To know now that the baby is here and home and that everybody is healthy has made me more relaxed than I've been able to be in weeks. I'm able to come to the race track, and everybody's excited this week that we don't have anything to worry about but the race car.

"We don't have backup drivers with us or any situations that can come up. This is a place where [crew chief] Shane [Wilson] and his guys have had success, and we've been able to run well here, too. So we're just looking forward to what should be a good weekend."

Points leader Matt Kenseth, a father of three, said he can relate to what Harvick had to go through.

"I think when that happens in the middle of the season, especially when they're waiting for their first, I think it's always a little stressful and you're always wondering because you certainly want to be there for your wife," Kenseth said. "That's a good thing to do, especially long-term, but you don't want to let your race team down at the same time. So I think it's a little stressful when it comes to scheduling. You're just hoping it's any time except for race day."

That part of it worked out for Harvick, who comes into this weekend sixth in the standings with eight races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup cutoff. He has yet to win but said he still likes his Chase chances.

"I think you approach these races just like you would any other week," Harvick said. "If we were in the Chase or it was the first race of the year, you're going to go out and try to get the best finish that you can. And obviously, you don't want to take any huge risks at this point, being that there are only eight weeks to go.

"Really, last week [at Daytona] was the story of the first part of this year for us. We go from going into Turn 3 thinking we're going to come out of Turn 4 with a chance to probably win the race, to being wadded up in a mess there. It's just been one of those deals where we've been in position to win some races and we've made a lot of mistakes, and we also haven't caught the breaks that you need to. Last year, we caught a lot of the breaks that we needed to, so you know these things run in cycles and you just have to try to ride it out. You keep putting yourself in position and hope the tide turns at some point."

Meanwhile, Harvick said he thinks it will help now that all is quiet -- relatively speaking -- on the home front.

"There is a huge sense of relief. For anyone who has had kids, there's just this anxiety as it gets closer," he said. "You just want to know is everybody going to be good. There are thoughts in your mind about all that could go wrong. Really, as the weeks rolled on, Sonoma [race weekend] was the first time it really hit me. We had a backup driver there in case something happened, and you just couldn't get it out of your mind. So there's definitely a huge sense of relief to be able to come to the track, knowing everyone's smiling and healthy and happy. That makes me feel a whole lot better."