There’s a whole lot of new in Kevin Harvick’s life right now, and one long-lasting ambition: To win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
The new includes a first child for he and wife DeLana, a child expected to arrive in early July; a new crew chief on the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in Shane Wilson; and some newfound free time now that the Harvicks have shuttered their own race team, Kevin Harvick Inc.
Yet for all the new, Harvick remains determined to win the Cup title, especially after two years in a row of third-place points finishes. Harvick is the only driver in the Cup series to finish in the top three in points during each of the last two seasons.
Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, Harvick said that selling off KHI has removed an enormous burden.
“I think from a mental aspect, this is the best,” Harvick said of his frame of mind after the off-season without KHI. “I never really realized how much an effect it takes on you with all the things you have going on. On the outside, that frame of mind that you are able to put yourself in is much more relaxed.”
In addition, a company-wide reorganization that included hiring Roush Fenway Racing veteran Drew Blickensderfer to be Jeff Burton’s crew chief as well as moving Wilson to Harvick’s car, has been a positive.
“We made a lot of changes,” Harvick said. “We brought Drew from the outside to bring in some new ideas. Shane has worked together a lot, so we have made what we felt were the best decisions to try as an organization to take ourselves from finishing third to win the championship. I feel like we may go out and it all may just crumble but with what we have underneath us, we feel like this is the best opportunity that we have built for ourselves over the winter.”
Impending fatherhood will bring some big changes, as well.
“The good thing about it is a lot of our friends have already gone through the process,” said Harvick. “I tell a lot of people all the time, we will probably be the most mature people at the school lunch or the PTA meetings. We did wait a little longer in life, but I think our life is a lot more settled than most parents going into these situations. I’m 36 and DeLana’s 38; we are looking forward to it.”
The Harvicks clearly have had some time to thing about parenthood.
“A lot of things you would change in your life that you want to do better to make your child’s life better, you talk about a lot of those things,” Kevin said. “It’s going to be a great challenge. It definitely changes the direction of the things you think about and do in your life, but we are looking forward to it.”
Jimmie Johnson, one of the men Harvick will likely battle for the championship with, thinks fatherhood will be a positive step for the RCR driver.
“I think it is going to be great for him,” Johnson said. “I think we all understand now why the Nationwide and Truck team shut down. I’m happy they are going to have the time to be with their family and be a part of it. As we all know, this is a tough schedule. Speaking from 19 months of experience, you don’t want to leave the house. You want to be with your family everyday it’s just such a cool experience. ... I think he has made some great decisions already. They just need to buckle in; they are going to have a great experience.”
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100.