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January 18, 2023

Kevin Harvick talks retirement, family, career in latest ‘Stacking Pennies’ episode

Before he hits the NASCAR Cup Series circuit one more time in 2023, Kevin Harvick appeared on the season premiere of the “Stacking Pennies” podcast hosted by Corey LaJoie and Ryan Flores. The 2014 Cup Series champion delved into a number of topics from his early racing days to transitioning his focus to family once his NASCAR career closes at Phoenix Raceway in November.

The initial point Harvick made on the podcast was that 2023 will be his official endpoint competing in NASCAR.

“At the end of the year, I’m done Cup racing,” Harvick said. “What that legacy is when we get to the end of 2023, that’s what it is. I’m fortunate to have been able to accomplish a lot of things in the sport. I feel really comfortable with where I’m at as far as what I’ve been able to do and there’s other things that I want to do.”

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Harvick’s main focus after racing will be geared toward building up his son Keelan’s racing career and guiding him as he climbs the ranks. Harvick said he wanted his son to travel not only to gain some cultural knowledge but to learn how to handle a finish when he doesn’t win.

With helping Keelan, Harvick said he leaned in on the good and bad experiences of being coached by his father and knowing which buttons to push.

“It got to a point with my dad where I didn’t speak to him for 10-15 years so it was a big wedge but there were a lot of things that were right as far as handling things and pushing past barriers,” Harvick said. “I’m pretty strict with Keelan as far as being responsible for the things he does and sometimes it’s a little too far but I think we’ve found a pretty good balance. How do you know you are pushing your kid too far unless you push him too far? You don’t know how it’s going to affect him unless you get right up to that edge.”

Twenty-one-time Cup Series winner Jeff Burton also provided Harvick with some coaching tips, telling the soon-to-be full-time dad to “coach through the coach,” according to Harvick.

At just the age of 25, Harvick had to promptly take over the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet after the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt. Though Harvick had already run a full season with RCR in the Xfinity Series and a few preseason test sessions in the No. 3, he said there were challenges trying to build chemistry with the team.

“Having to race that car with those guys, they weren’t a bad group of guys but they were built for Earnhardt,” Harvick said. “They were his age. They were his mentality and all the guys that I had in the Xfinity Series weren’t a part of it.”

Despite being vaulted into the Cup Series earlier than planned, Harvick said scoring his first win and having one of the toughest press conferences as early as he did eliminated some of the hardest tasks that came with competing at the Cup level.

Running races in both the Xfinity and Cup Series in 2002 led to Harvick’s tempers boiling over when certain weekends didn’t go his way. LaJoie referenced Harvick’s infamous Victory Lane takeover at Bristol Motor Speedway after Harvick was spun by that race’s winner Greg Biffle. Flores noted the Richmond post-race run-in with Ricky Rudd and jumping up on the hood of Rudd’s Wood Brothers Racing Ford.

Harvick explained what his plan was with his young crew, which was all-in with Harvick leading the way.

“When you’re running bad, sometimes you put on a show,” he said. “In this sport, you have to keep yourself relevant. We wanted to cause as much chaos as we could.”

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However, when asked about the Texas incident with Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon in 2014 – when Harvick gave Keselowski a shove toward Gordon, sparking a melee – Harvick didn’t reflect too fondly on that night.

“I don’t know what I was thinking there,” he said. “For me, my mind was ‘we didn’t win tonight, we need chaos.’ I went back into that showman thing and we wanted these guys to be the story since we didn’t win tonight. Well, it worked. I feel dumb for that but in the end, we made it to Homestead. We needed the story to go elsewhere other than us and being out of contention.”

Harvick said he took all the lessons from his time at RCR and matured alongside crew chief Rodney Childers which led to a fruitful tenure at Stewart-Haas Racing, including a series championship, and why now is the right time for him to step away.