News & Media

Fatherhood helps Harvick deal with ups and downs

September 26, 2012, Joe Menzer,

WELCOME, N.C. -- Kevin Harvick says that fatherhood has helped him deal with the ups and downs of this Sprint Cup season. But he knows there is something else that would help him, too.

"We need better, faster race cars," he said Tuesday at the Richard Childress Racing shop. "We're working on it. We're getting there."

Kevin Harvick

Of the tracks left which are return trips in 2012, Harvick has top-10s this year in five of the seven. But, he has won at only four of them in his career.

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"We've got some good race tracks coming up for us that we need to make something happen on."


He and his No. 29 Chevrolet team better move even faster to make it happen. Only eight races remain heading into this Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway, and Harvick is 31 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson in the Chase.

It's not an insurmountable deficit. But it's one that Harvick can't afford to let get any larger, so he's pleased to be going back to the 1-mile track where he finished second in the spring. The second-place finish matched his best effort in what has thus far been a winless season, as he also finished second at Phoenix in the spring -- at another venue that will be revisited later in the Chase.

"Going to Dover and Charlotte and Martinsville, those have been good race tracks for us over the last couple of years," Harvick said. "We're definitely looking forward to it. I think Dover was probably our best race. Phoenix was good, too. So we've got some good race tracks coming up for us that we need to make something happen on."

Team owner Richard Childress admitted that trying to prepare his three Cup teams for the transition to a new race car in 2013 while also giving it everything they've got to help keep Harvick in the 2012 championship hunt has been a challenge.

"It's a balancing act right now, but our No. 1 focus right now is trying to help Kevin win this championship," Childress said.

Harvick said he isn't even thinking about 2013 yet.

"For me, it's week to week to be honest with you," Harvick said. "I study whatever race track we're coming up to. ... We're so busy, it's hard for me to focus on anything past the next race.

"They're doing a good job with the 2013 car. I did drive it during the [recent] test at Martinsville. I haven't been too involved in that program. I know they've got a lot going on with that program right now, but that's not anything that's on my mind right now."

Harvick's performance has improved since Gil Martin returned as his crew chief recently, replacing Shane Wilson -- the man who had replaced Martin at the end of last season even though Harvick and the No. 29 team finished third in the standings and posted four wins on the season. But both Harvick and Childress were noncommittal when asked if Martin would remain Harvick's crew chief next season.

"That's a good question for Richard," said Harvick, smiling.

"It won't change during the Chase," Childress replied after the question of Martin's future had been kicked over to him. "We've got some really good things and people put in place for next year. We hope to announce some of those things soon."

Meanwhile, there is this year on which to focus. Harvick enters this weekend confident despite what has been a solid if quite unspectacular season, one in which he has only four top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. Last season, in addition to the four victories, he had nine top-fives and 19 top-10s.

"It's never over until it's over. ... You can't get too far out, but we've got some really good races coming up for Kevin," Childress said.

"There's really no magic to this," Harvick added. "From a driver standpoint, you go out and you go as hard as you can every week. And if your car's not running like it needs to that week, you try to take the best finish that you can from that particular race. Then if it's your day, it's your day.

"It's just been one of those years. You beat your way through those cycles -- and eventually it turns its way around, and then suddenly you can't do anything wrong. And you don't even know why."

He said he figures Dover is as good a place as any to finally put his season into overdrive.

For whatever reason, that race track has been good to us lately," Harvick said. "We went up there a couple years ago and did a tire test to figure some things out from the driver's seat that I could relate back to the guys who work on the car. Since then, it seems like it's been a good race track for us. I feel comfortable unloading there and being able to go fast right off the bat. You've got to be aggressive up there to go fast and you have to have a car that's comfortable enough to do that.

"You go to the race track and drive the car as fast as you can. That's the plan every week."

Whatever happens, Harvick did admit that coming home to wife, DeLana, and seeing son, Keelan, born this past July 8, has made a profound difference in his overall approach.

"Having that family at home makes things go a lot easier," Harvick said. "Really, by the time you roll around to Monday morning and you've been able to spend some time with him and DeLana and kind of re-set and re-focus, you let the bad weeks go a lot easier.

"As parents know, it just gives you that balance in your life where it offsets the things that are not going well. ... By the time Monday rolls around, you learn to forget all the things that happened the week before. Because, in the end, he really doesn't care."