|Kevin and Keelan Harvick |
Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
For an Earnhardt fan like me, I will always have a special place in my heart for Harvick who, three weeks after losing Earnhardt, earned his first career Cup victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Harvick took another victory in 2001 at Chicagoland Speedway. It was an impressive and banner year for the man who won the Busch Championship as well as the Winston Cup Rookie of the Year honors. Harvick also finished ninth in points for the 2001 season. Those accomplishments showcased the enormous talent Harvick is.
As the seasons unfolded, Harvick bounced around in the points – 21st in 2002, fifth in 2003, 14th in both 2004 and 2005, fourth in 2006, 10th in 2007, fourth in 2008, 19th in 2009, and third in both 2010 and 2011.
Harvick has gotten so close to the ever-elusive Sprint Cup that is the goal. His tenure at Richard Childress Racing (RCR) has produced 18 wins, but no Cup championships. For both parties that has to be a frustration.
This 2012 season dawned fresh. At the end of 2011, Harvick had unloaded his Camping World Truck Series and his Nationwide Series teams he held under Kevin Harvick Incorporated. The move baffled many and even rumors of divorce circulated.
Those rumors were quashed, however, when in January 2012, Harvick and his wife DeLana announced they were expecting their first child in July 2012.
Selling teams to focus on Sprint Cup and win the championship seemed to be the priority - behind parenthood, of course.
Harvick’s season hasn't gone swimmingly this year. Although he was consistent enough to get into the Chase, there were no regular season wins and, to date, no Chase wins, so he is floundering in 10th place.
One possible reason is the birth of Keelan Paul Harvick. As easy as it is to say having a child doesn't change you, it seems evident to me that impending and actual fatherhood is a catalyst for change as a driver. New priorities take the place of old.
It's not that a baby diminishes the ability to win, but rather the intensity to win at all costs may falter. Fathers of today – dads who have a connection to the child’s mother and the child itself – are far more involved than their counterparts of yesteryear.
In addition, fathers who wait, like Harvick, for maturity before embarking on parenthood seem to have a grasp of their place in the cycle of life. Feelings of protector, provider, and caregiver can supersede winning at all costs.
I believe that the “pink cloud” phase does end and a return to former pursuits occurs. But dads are irrevocably changed and Harvick seems to be. I think he has more wins in him and I hope he has a championship in his future.
RCR may also be holding Harvick back. It seems that the NCWTS and NNS are the teams getting the most attention and support in recent years. It seems logical as Childress’ grandsons are finally coming down the line to take their rightful place in the organization as drivers.
Harvick, not being a relation, will eventually have to step aside. His days, as it were, are numbered. Like Matt Kenseth who is leaving his longtime organization, perhaps Harvick would benefit greatly from a change of team.
He may have flat-lined at RCR, but the infusion of different talent and a new helmsman may one day provide the spark needed for Harvick to win championships.
At present, Harvick remains with RCR and adjusts to his role as starry-eyed dad. His future is uncertain but still appears bright. A championship may still be within grasp, if not this season then soon.
Whether he wins a championship or not, Kevin Harvick is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.
Chief 187™ is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com .