Kevin Harvick has won NASCAR’s biggest races and last season added its biggest prize – the Sprint Cup Series championship – to his racing resume.
What could possibly be next?
Apparently, quite a lot.
“You always re-establish new goals,” Harvick said Thursday during Daytona 500 Media Day at Daytona International Speedway. “When you’re able to accomplish goals, it’s very rewarding, but it also makes those new goals much more realistic.
“As we come into this year, knowing you did the things we did last year, it’s very rewarding and a great confidence builder for our race team.
“We know we can win races and a championship if we put all the pieces together correctly because we’ve done all that.”
New goal No. 1 is a familiar one – win the Daytona 500.
Harvick won NASCAR’s most prestigious race in 2007 when he was driving for Richard Childress Racing.
Winning it again with the team that led him to his first series championship is the prime example of a new goal with new meaning.
“I know what it’s like to win this race and the experience that comes with it, and I would love to be a part of winning this race with this group of guys,” he said.
“We all thrive on the competition. The competition is what drives us and really makes coming to the race track fun and exciting.”
Certainly, the Cup championship was the most glaring omission from Harvick’s very successful NASCAR career, which included a driver title in what is now called the Xfinity Series and victories in NASCAR’s three most prestigious races.
In addition to his Daytona 500 victory, Harvick also has won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2003) and last season picked up a win in the Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C.
As team owners, he and his wife, DeLana, have won multiple races in the Xfinity and Truck series, including two Truck series championships with driver Ron Hornaday Jr.
“It was definitely a big one to check off the ‘to do’ list,” Harvick said of winning the Cup championship. “In the end, it’s still about competition.
“First you think of how do you go out do it again and try to put the same things together, even though they will never be the same.”
Putting that puzzle together – finding that right combination of speed, talent and team members – is what has brought Harvick the most enjoyment in his racing career.
The pieces are the same regardless of whether you’re running Late Model stock cars or competing in NASCAR’s premier series.
“The puzzle’s always different,” he said. “The part that is intriguing to me is to fit in as much as possible.”
This season, that includes maintaining a successful race team, representing NASCAR as its most recent champion and being a good parent.
“In the end, we changed our whole lives in order to try to accomplish everything that we did last year,” said Harvick, who relocated his family from Kernersville to Charlotte last summer.
“We were able to pull it off despite changing in three years basically everything that we’ve ever done. That’s very rewarding for not only DeLana and myself, but everybody who has been involved (in this sport) with me.”