Harvick: Drivers will need to be "extraordinary" road racers

Kevin Harvick has been a vocal proponent of NASCAR changing up its schedule and by doing so this season he believes finding success in the sport will require versatile drivers.

Harvick: Drivers will need to be "extraordinary" road racers
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Mobil 1
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Mobil 1, Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Shell Pennzoil/Autotrader
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Mobil 1
 Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Mobil 1, Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Wyndham Rewards, David Ragan, Front Row Motorsports, Ford Mustang #ThanksDW, Paul Menard, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford Mustang Menards / Richmond
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Busch Beer and Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Rush Truck Centers
Race winner Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang

NASCAR revamped its Cup Series schedule this season, eliminating some tracks while adding new ones and vastly increasing the number of road course races.

The Cup Series will compete on six road course events in its 26-race regular season this year – nearly a quarter of the races run to qualify for the season playoffs. One road course event – on the Charlotte Roval – will remain in the 10-race playoffs.

The Cup Series also is adding a race on dirt for the first time in more than 50 years, but road racing clearly will take a more prominent role in a series that has long been dominated by ovals.

“I think as you look at, I think you’re going to have to be very versatile. I think our sport is going to continue to change,” said Harvick, who won a series-high nine races in 2020 but none on a road course.

“I think you’re going to have to be an extraordinary road racer as you go into the next five years, just because of what you’re seeing this year and the opportunities of where you can race and the different race tracks and things that we can go to.”

In fact, the changes to the Cup Series schedule may have a larger impact, such as changing the development path of drivers that hope to reach NASCAR’s premier series.

“When you look at just a straight-up asphalt oval late model racer, I don’t know that that’s going to be 100 percent where you need to be,” Harvick said. “I think you definitely have to have that background, but I think being versatile and having that car control that is taught from a midget, sprint car standpoint (is important).

“You look at road racing and whether you can just get so many opportunities in so many different forms of racing at such a young age, I think it’s very important as you go forward to really consider how much time you spend on one craft.”

With COVID-19 pandemic protocols still in place to start the new season and a new car debuting in the series in 2022, Cup teams will have had little opportunity for development in the offseason.

That would appear to benefit the drivers who enjoyed much success last season – such as Harvick and Denny Hamlin, who combined to win 16 of the 36 points races.

But not necessarily.

Neither Harvick nor Hamlin won a road course event during the 2020 season. As it turned out, the series’ most prolific road racer of late, Chase Elliott, ended up winning the series championship by winning the season finale at Phoenix.

In fact, Elliott became the first series champion since 2017 to win a road course event on the way to capturing the title.

With five of his 11 career Cup wins coming on road course, Elliott seems primed to take full advantage of NASCAR’s scheduling changes.

And other drivers who have enjoyed most of their success on more traditional ovals, will likely have to adapt or risk falling out of contention for wins and championships.

“Trying to put yourself into being just a good oval racer is not going to work as you go forward,” Harvick said. “You’re going to have to be a good oval racer, but you’re also going to have to be a very good road racer, in my opinion.”

shares
comments

Related video

Hamlin on balancing his role as a driver and new team owner
Previous article

Hamlin on balancing his role as a driver and new team owner

Next article

Busch explains what NASCAR's Next Gen car needs to improve

Busch explains what NASCAR's Next Gen car needs to improve
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021