NASCAR Cup Series
Cup Series Playoff Picture Avoids Major Shakeup at Richmond
Aug 15, 2022
"Old guys rule."
Kevin Harvick tweeted that after winning at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2018. Back then, he was already 42 years old and 17 seasons into his NASCAR Cup Series career. By all accounts, this is the twilight of any ordinary successful tenure at the highest level.
Since then, he has gone on to win 22 additional races and has just now captured back-to-back wins at 46-years-old in his 22nd season.
Okay, definitely not ordinary.
After breaking a 65-race winless streak last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Harvick suddenly doesn’t look anywhere close to slowing down or calling it quits and very well could win another championship before retirement comes calling -- which would put him in incredible company.
Dale Earnhardt, 1994, 43
Bobby Allison, 1983, 45
Lee Petty, 1959, 45
Further, Harvick has now won 29 races since turning 40 years old, and this distinction is the sweetest for the 2014 champion. Again, Harvick is supposed to be done and he is reminded of it every time he walks down pit road and sees who is no longer in a fire suit.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Harvick battled those guys for wins and championships over the past two decades and it seems inevitable that he would soon join them in the television booth full-time and that just hasn’t happened yet.
And why should he if he keeps winning approaching his 50s.
"I do take pride in that," Harvick said. "I love it. For me, a lot of the guys that I grew up racing with are … Dale is up in the booth and Kyle (Petty) and Dale Jarrett are down here and you've got Bowyer in the booth. Jeff is on pit road. I saw Jeff driving to Victory Lane.
"So, a lot of the guys that I grew up racing with, they're all retired and doing other things ... It's those quiet high fives that are a lot of fun and keep it in perspective for me because of the fact that you're older and supposed to be done and kind of headed down a path that’s toward the end."
But again, does Harvick look like someone who is towards the end of anything? Kevin Harvick is suddenly the new Mark Martin.
"My wife is going to kill you if you talk about racing into the 50s," Harvick said with a laugh. "I don't know about that."
Harvick says he owes this longevity to a kind of team humility inside the shop -- or at least a willingness from everyone inside the group to accept criticism.
"I think for me, I never have a problem speaking up if I don't agree with them," Harvick said. "They may not ultimately agree with me, but I will just voice my concern of maybe we're taking this too far, not far enough.
"At the same time, I have no problem when they show me data that says ‘you're not doing a good job,’ whether it's steering, throttle, brake, gas, whatever. Nobody is going to get offended and nobody is walking on eggshells to show you that stuff."
With his resume, Harvick would be well within his right to feel beyond reproach, but he isn’t. That’s where many of his peers have faded into their 40s, and this open-mindedness is especially necessary in a season with a radically different race car.
"I have no problem just going out and trying something or trying to develop something," Harvick said. "… At the end of the day, no one gets offended if you don’t agree with them or when they tell me I’m doing a bad job and could do something better.
"We all want to achieve the same things, and that’s the great part about our group, and right or wrong, that’s just the way we do it."
Harvick has now won 37 races since joining Stewart-Haas Racing as a 38-year-old. Every single one of those victories came with crew chief Rodney Childers and largely the same No. 4 road crew. They’re family and have learned to communicate as such.
"I think (the success) just comes from years of trust, years of communication and years of talk," Harvick said. "I think that's the biggest key to progressing in a positive way."
And arguably the biggest key to their success is they don’t get suckered into these statistics and numbers. They didn’t know how long their winless streak was until they were told the number after breaking it last week at Michigan.
Harvick and Childers aren’t aware of exactly how many wins they have together either. They are hyper focused on the now, good, bad or indifferent. It has meant they don’t get too high on themselves after winning nine times in 2020 or too low on themselves after going winless in 2021.
"You go week by week and you're only as good as the last race," Childers said. "Yeah, we have confidence, but like we said last week, we just have to keep doing the same things we've been doing and the same system and concentrating on the right things and keeping everyone motivated."
Again, that means not getting too wrapped up in their Racing Reference or Third Turn pages.
"Maybe this is a fault of mine, but I think it's also one of the reasons that we progress forward," Harvick said. "It's never about what you have done, what the numbers look like. It's 'what do we have to do next week (and) what could we have done better last week?'
"You can look at all that other stuff when it's over. Hopefully, if you gave it all you had and were successful, it's because you outworked them and had a better group of people and people you have a better relationship with."
This is the older Kevin Harvick, but also a wiser one.
"Maybe sometimes I need to just stop and kind of take it all in, but I don't know, it's just that it feels like bragging when you stop and talk about yourself.
"At the end of the day, I like most of the kids in the garage and like being around my competitors. I've got a much better relationship with most everyone in the field, the crew chiefs, the owners. I like that part and you want them to respect you when you're done."
Harvick knows he’s won a lot of races and is doing something really special from a historical standpoint, especially for someone his age, but all that matters to him right now is celebrating the moment with his team, friends and family.
"I thought it was cool that I could put my little girl in the car last week and we could do stuff like that," Harvick said. "Those are the things that I think are neat right now."
This is the Old Guys' Rule.