Kevin Harvick Isn’t NASCAR’s Tom Brady, But Retiring Stars Align
Tom Brady announcing his retirement from a Florida beach on Wednesday dominated the airwaves from dusk to dawn, but incumbent NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick didn’t find out until early Thursday.
I think that’s what happens when you’re 47 with two kids.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know he retired until this morning,” Harvick said Thursday, three days before the green flag fell on the 2023 NASCAR season (unofficially, of course).
“I’m a bit out of the way. I’ve been out of the country watching (his son) Keelan, watching him race, and haven’t turned on a TV for the past two weeks. So I catch up. »
Kevin Harvick had to replace Dale Earnhardt after his death in 2001. (Jon Ferrey/Allsport) Like Tom Brady, Kevin Harvick took a crash course in NASCAR as a replacement for Dale Earnhardt
No TV for two weeks?! Sounds crazy to me, but I’m not a full-time Cup Series racer either. Of course, neither will Harvick when the checkered flag falls on this upcoming season.
The former NASCAR champion, Daytona 500 winner and future Hall of Famer announced last month that 2023 would be his 23rd and final season at the Cup level.
Maybe no one has experienced the full range of emotions over 2+ decades like Harvick either.
He was thrust into the national spotlight in 2001 when he was named Dale Earnhardt’s replacement driver after his death in the ’01 Daytona 500, and quickly won three weeks later.
Not bad for a beginner!
“You really had to do things that you didn’t really know how to do,” Harvick said of his rookie year. “You didn’t know how to react to situations, you had to quickly learn the magnitude of the situation and then you had to deal with it.
“We had a crash course in how things were working at a high level very, very quickly.”
Harvick won twice in his first season at Cup level and has won 58 more times since then. He earned his only career victory at the Daytona 500 in 2007, won a Cup championship in 2014 and had one of the greatest regular seasons of all time in 2020 when he won nine times.
Kevin Harvick may not have Tom Brady’s pedigree, but he is a NASCAR champion. (Photo by Jim Fluharty/NASCAR Illustrated/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)
No, it’s not Tom Brady from NASCAR. Frankly, he probably replaced NASCAR’s Tom Brady when he took over racing from Earnhardt all those years ago.
But the two are alike in more ways than one.
Both were forced into the limelight as rookies and had to replace stars. (Yes, Drew Bledsoe was a fucking star. Look at him.)
Both won and won a lot. The championship pedigree is certainly there for Brady, and while Harvick doesn’t quite have seven championships, he’s still a champion, and that’s worth something.
Hell, he even managed to clinch a Cup title during Jimmie Johnson’s incredible stretch, which was damn near impossible for the better part of a decade.
Both guys were fiery on the field and on the track, and the two clearly never lost that edge over the years. Brady broke a billion pills last season, while Harvick is just over a year away from taking Chase Elliott’s header in the 2021 playoffs.
And now, while both guys broke into their respective leagues around the same time, both are set to make a career out of it in the same year.
Tom Brady wants to make films in retirement. Kevin Harvick wants to drink beer. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures) Kevin Harvick says 2023 will definitely be the last time in the NASCAR Cup Series
Unlike Brady, however, Harvick says that’s it. No future single Cup races on the road. No question of pulling a Jimmie Johnson and coming back to run part-time. None of that.
When the ladies greet Phoenix in November, that will be it.
After seeing last season for Brady, it’s probably not a bad thing to be a little different from the GOAT in that regard.
“One of the things I really thought about was making sure you ran long enough to make sure you didn’t need to come back,” Harvick said. “I’m not telling you that I’m not going to race, but I’m telling you that I’m not going to (re)race in the Cup Series.
“When I go to Daytona (for the 500) you won’t see me running on it. I took my time, did it right and made sure I ran until I wanted to. Whatever else I do (in the future) will be because I want to do it, and be able to sit in the trailer and drink a beer when I’m done like I watched Dale the make.
Sounds like a retreat I can get on board with.