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Year of Harvick?

by Monte Dutton

All things considered, this could be the year Kevin Harvick has been awaiting.

Harvick, 34, replaced Dale Earnhardt at Richard Childress Racing after Earnhardt’s death in the Daytona 500 in 2001. He won his first (now) Sprint Cup race in his third try. He has won the Nationwide Series championship twice. He was Raybestos Rookie of the Year in both Nationwide and Cup.

But Harvick hasn’t actually won at the Sprint Cup level since the 2007 Daytona 500.

“It’s been a decent start to the year, for sure,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve had a couple of chances to win and haven’t quite gotten that done, but the guys are doing a great job.”

Decent start, huh? Harvick led the Cup point standings for four straight races, though he fell to fourth after a subpar showing at Martinsville. He and wife DeLana run Kevin Harvick Inc., which is near the head of the class in the Camping World Truck and Nationwide series. Ron Hornaday drove one of the Kevin Harvick Inc. entries to the Truck championship last year.

Everything seems to be coming up roses for the Bakersfield, Calif. native, who manages to have fun in spite of business obligations.

“I think having fun — and running well — is something that eases your mind on everything else,” said Harvick, “and there is just no pressure when you are racing in Nationwide or the Truck series. You can go and really push the limits, and find those limits, and do things you normally wouldn’t do just because there’s really nothing at stake.

“It’s fun. It eases my mind. It lets me relax. Some people would rather relax by not doing anything. For me, I’m at the track. I would rather be in a vehicle on the race track because I feel like there is always something you can learn. It’s just a matter of approach as to how you relax, and that’s how I like to relax.”

What isn’t relaxing is chasing Jimmie Johnson. “It just motivates you to keep working on your stuff and keep trying to make it better,” said Harvick. “They [Johnson’s team] haven’t won three out of the first six races by being lucky, though. They win them because they have all their stuff together and when they get a lucky break, they capitalize on it and make things happen.”

Monte Dutton has covered motorsports for The Gaston (NC) Gazette since 1993. He was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association in 2008. His blog NASCAR This Week (nascar.rbma.com) features all of his reporting on racing, roots music and life on the road. E-mail Monte at nascar_thisweek@yahoo.com.

‘ 2010 King Features Syndicate

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