A funny thing happened on the way to the 50th running of the Daytona 500. Last year’s winner, Kevin Harvick, has all but disappeared off the radar scope for now. We had a chance to discuss other things with him at an announcement that Cale Gale would drive the No.33 Rheem Chevrolet, part-time for Kevin Harvick, Inc. in the Nationwide series.
What’s coming off the keyboards in the windowless media center, steps from the Sprint Car garage, is Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Hendrick motor woes, and has NASCAR’s probation of Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart, served its’ purpose?
Again flashback to Brian France’s statement that NASCAR’s theme this year is back to the basics. It kind of gets under Harvick’s skin.
For those of you with a short memory Harvick was parked, banned, from a Cup race in Martinsville in 2002, for an incident in a truck race while he was on probation. At the time he was the first driver banned from a Cup event. Last year, Robbie Gordon, was forced to sit out the a race at Pocono for failing to follow NASCAR’s orders in a then Busch (now Nationwide) race in Montreal.
“I know that five years ago, I was the guy that was the whipping post,” Harvick said. “It’s different to come in and see the rules all of a sudden change. And as long as they’re consistent, I don’t have a problem with it.
“I think it should have been this way for a long time, and unfortunately, it cost me thousands of dollars to be true to myself, and when I was mad to be mad. I’m not smart enough to figure out what I said and trying to make the politically correct answer, so I’ve always just said whatever I want.
Luckily, it’s come full circle. Now they need those personalities and they need those people to be who they are. It’s a little bit funny.”
Despite the new policy nothing’s going to change Harvick who has been called “happy Harvick.”
“You’ve got the same old person,” Harvick said. “I hadn’t changed when there was penalties, and I’m not going to change when there are no penalties. “
The burning question remains where has NASCAR drawn the line on out-of-the car conduct.
Last week Dale Earnhardt, Jr. told me (okay and others on media day, but I’m in TV mode for a second) that no officials had spoken to him explaining the new looser rules enforcement policy.
Harvick agrees, “nobody spoke to me, I don’t really care what they have to say I’m going to say what I want if it’s not the right thing I’ll suffer the consequences, be wrong, or be right or reprimanded however it ends up. It just one of those things where I think you should be who you are anyway.”