LAS VEGAS – Kevin Harvick had a short answer and long answer when asked if he was surprised that Kyle Busch’s victory last weekend came so soon, in just his second NASCAR Cup Series start with Richard Childress Racing.
“No,” the short answer went. “Not at all.”
Harvick’s longer-form response – also delivered during a Saturday morning media availability at Las Vegas Motor Speedway — included a forecast for just how formidable the new combination of Busch and his Hall of Famer of a team owner might be. The two joined forces with the RCR No. 8 team this season after Busch’s departure from Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch’s convincing win last Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, Harvick said, could be just the beginning.
Harvick’s perspective is shaped by long-running relationships with both. The 47-year-old veteran drove for Childress in his first 13 years in the Cup Series, and he’s in his 19th season racing against Busch in NASCAR’s top division. Busch’s Auto Club triumph broke a tie with Harvick on NASCAR’s all-time wins list – Busch now sits at 61 career victories, putting him one ahead of Harvick’s 60 and handing him sole possession of ninth place all-time.
“I think a focused Kyle Busch, and this reminds me there’s very few people that can take a Kyle Busch at this particular point in his career with everything that’s going on in the past and has gone on and deal with it, but Richard is one of those people,” Harvick said. ” I think he’s had the experience with several different drivers, and I think the thing that people don’t realize is Richard can corral that and make it successful. Kyle wants it to be successful because he wants to show everybody up and that’s dangerous for everybody, for Kyle to be in that mood.”
Childress and Busch had flare-ups of confrontation in their distant past but put their bygones aside at the announcement of the partnership last September. Childress has perennially had a knack for wrangling and fine-tuning the sport’s swashbucklers, and Harvick said the team owner’s union with Busch should grow stronger in time.
“Look, we’ve seen Richard with myself and Dale Earnhardt and Robby Gordon, and so many of those types of personalities, but Richard and Kyle together on the same page is dangerous because Richard will give you enough rope to be able to go do the things that you want to go do outside of the race car and support it as he did with KHI (Harvick’s own race team) and help you as long as you’re loyal and helping him.
“I think when you look at the loyalty that Richard has to people and sponsors, and that’s what keeps his race team going. So I think as they go along, and Kyle falls into that loyalty category, and really starts earning more and more of that with Richard, it could continue to be more dangerous and because Kyle was just wanting to show everybody, and that’s not good if his cars are that fast.”