Aug 9, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Kevin Harvick is in one of the most unique positions of any driver in the Sprint Cup circuit.
On the one hand, he’s become good friends with first-year Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch, who once was one of Harvick’s toughest competitors.
“This is the second year I’ve actually worked with Kurt,” Harvick told Red Eye, a subsidiary of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Last year, we worked together when I was at (Richard Childress Racing) and he was at Furniture Row.
“We kind of had the relationship to share all their information. Kurt’s a great teammate and he’s great with the cars and has run well throughout the season, so it’s been a good asset for Stewart-Haas.”
But on the flip side, Harvick remains fierce rivals with Busch’s younger brother, Kyle.
“I don’t think there’s a Kyle Busch fan that likes me,” Harvick said. “You’re definitely going to get some boos. That’s what makes our sport great. If there’s somebody you don’t like, you can boo them and cheer your guy, so that’s what keeps it going around.”
Even though he sold or folded his Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series race teams more than two years ago, the 38-year-old Harvick is as busy as he’s ever been.
Not only is he in his first season with SHR, he’s locked into the Chase, is seeking his first career Sprint Cup championship, owns an athlete/entertainer management company (the roster includes a PGA golfer, a UFC fighter and two budding country music stars), and is also a doting father to two-year-old Keelan and husband to DeLana.
“I think for me it’s just been the fact … how well it’s all blended together,” Harvick said. “As you have some country music, some MMA, golf and racing and you see how well all the athletes and musicians get along together, each brings their own different set of advantages to each program.
“So obviously I think the MMA stuff has probably been my favorite with Donald [Cerrone] and everything that we’ve done. … It’s been fun to see it grow.”
Harvick has been known to have a fiery temper in his career and has never backed down from challenges from other drivers. He would love to get into an MMA cage, but at his age (38), that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
Rather, Harvick is getting into something a little sedate in his off-time. When he’s not chasing race cars, he’s chasing little white balls.
“I’m too old for the MMA stuff. I missed it,” Harvick said. “In order to be good at that, you’re going to have to be well-rounded in every type of martial arts and wrestling, so it’s a lot of work that those guys go through. That would be fun, but at this point I think golf is probably more realistic for me.”
Admittedly, it was a tough decision for Harvick to ultimately leave RCR after 14 seasons there. But he felt that his chances of winning a Cup championship were better at SHR, and that prompted him to make a move that he had been considering for the last few years.
While some critics and media members questioned whether Harvick would be able to get along well with his new SHR teammates, particularly the elder Busch brother, it’s been nothing but blue skies and sunshine with his new teammates, Harvick said.
“It’s been good,” Harvick said. “I’ve worked with everybody before this year. … As we’ve gone into the year, there wasn’t really a learning curve or anything that needed to be learned about each individual. I already knew everybody, so coming in it was just, how do we make our cars better? How do we make the team better?
“Everybody’s been doing their thing to try to keep advancing the company, and I think everyone’s done a great job, so I’ve been really happy with the direction of the team and everybody’s been working together well.”
While Harvick and Busch are both locked into the Chase, team co-owner Tony Stewart is still not qualified. He has five races to make the Chase, lest it would be the second straight season he’s failed to make the playoffs (last year was due to injury), and the third time in the Chase’s 10-year history.
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