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
Listen to this article

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
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Prime

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

NASCAR Cup
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Prime

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR Cup
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Prime

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his teammate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Prime

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR Cup
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival Prime

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major engine overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
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