Kevin Harvick changed my life #4Ever

Texas Motor Speedway, April 2017
credit Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs

Like many NASCAR fans who were following the sport at the time, I first became aware of Kevin Harvick as the young driver Dale Earnhardt hand-picked to replace him at Richard Childress Racing. I watched teary-eyed as he strapped into that hastily renumbered Cup car much sooner than anyone anticipated. 

I full-on cried along with everyone else when he made it to victory lane three races later at Atlanta by edging out Jeff Gordon by a mere .006 seconds. 

To win in his first Cup season was an accomplishment. To do it in just his third Cup start? Amazing. Some may have thought Harvick had some heavenly help across the line. 

Harvick scored a second victory at Chicago that July. Then, under what had to have been excruciating pressure, he not only finished ninth in points in his first Cup season - a season that had one race fewer points than everyone else - he also won the first of his two Xfinity Series championships and established himself as a worthy competitor.

Harvick’s blend of finesse and ferocity on track and frank outspokenness served him well throughout his career and made for many, many entertaining moments. 

He also changed my life  - for the better - and he'll probably never know it.   

My very first piece for Skirts and Scuffs was about Kevin Harvick back on May 10, 2011. My Twitter friend Lacy Page wrote for the site and tweeted something about an opinion piece involving Harvick and Kyle Busch, one that was more sympathetic to Busch than to Harvick. I said I could do it, editor-in-chief Katy Lindamood took me up on the offer, and after the piece was published, I was invited to join the staff.

That invitation led to me being able to cover races at Texas Motor Speedway representing Skirts and Scuffs. I attended every Cup and Xfinity race between November 2011 and November 2019 with the exception of April 2019, along with many of the Truck series races and a handful of IndyCar races, too. 

I saw Harvick score two of his three Cup Series poles at Texas Motor Speedway (spring 2017, fall 2019), all three of his Cup wins (fall 2017, 2018, and 2019), as well as his Xfinity victory (fall 2012).

I arrived at the racetrack for the first time the morning after his lone Craftsman Truck series win in November 2011, though that victory was overshadowed by Kyle Busch's bad behavior. 

Texas Motor Speedway, November 2018
credit: Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
For me, Harvick's most memorable moment in the races I covered at the track didn’t come in Victory Lane. It came on pit road in November 2014 when a furious Jeff Gordon, who’d been trying to advance to the Final Four in the Chase, confronted Brad Keselowski, who had sent him into the wall late in the race. Keselowski tried to avoid the conflict, but was nudged toward Gordon by Harvick. The ensuing brawl is now part of NASCAR lore. 

I was on a different part of pit road when the confrontation occurred so I didn't see it in person, but I was in the Media Center when Keselowski, who finished third, and Harvick, who finished second, made their obligatory post-race appearances. Gordon finished 29th so was not required to be available to the media. Keselowski handled his obligation with grace despite his swollen lip. Harvick laughed along with Kyle Larson, the highest-finishing rookie, and then smirked his way through much of his presser.

Post-race presser, November 2014
credit/Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs

Harvick's smirk, November 2014
credit/Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs

Keselowski got Harvicked, then punched, November 2014
credit/Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs

Kevin Harvick provided championship-level racing and championship-level entertainment at every track in his Here’s wishing him the best in his next chapter.

Kevin Harvick changed my life #4Ever Kevin Harvick changed my life #4Ever Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Friday, December 01, 2023 Rating: 5