Kevin Harvick knows a thing or two about consistency and longevity. At the age of 44, a time when most drivers retire or see their performance dip, Harvick is dominating the NASCAR’s Cup Series this season. He’s already won 9 races in 2020, and he signed a contract extension with Stewart-Haas Racing through 2023, NBC said.
So when young drivers ask him for advice, he tells him there’s a driving force that’ll keep you in the driver’s seat: Stay focused on the track. Popularity won’t help you win races.
“The one thing that I try to explain to all the younger racers, an extra 100,000 people on Twitter isn’t going to make you stick around longer,” said Harvick, who is about to complete his 20th full-time Cup season. “Performance on the racetrack is really the bread and butter of what we do, and no matter if you have a funny personality or you have a famous last name, it doesn’t matter.
He says Danica Patrick‘s inconsistencies on the racetrack kept her from reaching her full potential.
“In the end, Danica Patrick is probably the best example that I can think of that, is just the fact of having the results on the racetrack,” he told NBC. “I think every week we’ve put a lot of pressure on ourselves to figure out why we didn’t run like we did or why we ran like we did in order to try to continue that trend forward.”
Harvick did say that Patrick’s retirement would leave a “huge hole” in NASCAR. “There’s really no way to measure everything that she’s brought to the sport and the things that she’s done for the sport, Harvick said then.
Kevin Harvick: ‘Danica could have been a megastar’
Harvick and Patrick were teammates at Stewart-Haas Racing for four years before she retired after the 2018 Daytona 500. Shortly after she retired, Harvick explained how her off-the-track persona overshadowed her on-the-track record.
She had the potential to be a “megastar,” but fell short, he told NBC at the time.
“When you have a guy like Tiger Woods, he’s won and won and won and won and won and won. Danica had a personality. She didn’t perform well,” he said then. “She could have been a megastar as well. Danica didn’t perform well. In the end, performance trumped superstar to megastar. And if you want to be a megastar you have to perform and win. That’s the effect that a guy like Tiger Woods has.”
Harvick also took issue with the popularity of Dale Earnhardt Jr. He said that Earnhardt’s fame mixed with his poor performance “stunted” NASCAR’s growth.
“(Earnhardt) hasn’t been anywhere close to being our most successful driver,” Harvick said. “For me, I believe Dale Jr. has had a big part in stunting the growth of NASCAR because he’s got these legions of fans, this huge outreach of being able to reach these places none of us have the possibility to reach. But he’s won nine races in 10 years at Hendrick Motorsports and hasn’t been able to reach outside of that. I know those aren’t the most popular comments but those are real-life facts that you look up and see on the stat sheet.”
Kevin Harvick’s comments still haunted Earnhardt a year later.
“I can’t shake it, I’ll think about it all the time,” Earnhardt told Dan Patrick on “The Dan Patrick Show” in 2018.