NASCAR notebook: Earnhardt says Harvick’s contribution goes far beyond dominant driving

Keselowski roots for Blaney from afar; Roush Fenway announces sponsor extension for Stenhouse.

Yes, Kevin Harvick made mincemeat of the rest of the field in Saturday night’s Great Clips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

And, yes, Harvick has crafted a remarkable record in 11 NASCAR Nationwide Series appearances for JR Motorsports this season. 

But according to team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., Harvick’s contribution to the organization goes far beyond his performance on the track. 

“He’s brought a lot to our team,” Earnhardt said Saturday night, while Harvick celebrated in Victory Lane. “We’ve said it every time we’ve had the opportunity to talk about it, how much he’s brought to the team in terms of performance and speed. He continues to help us improve our equipment and our cars, and that raises the competitiveness of the whole company. 

“He’s not only a great driver—he gets in there and drives the heck out of it—but he raises the whole company, and that’s pretty unique. You don’t really get that in a lot of race car drivers. Some guys are really, really good, and they can get the job done behind the wheel, but it’s rare where you find a driver that makes a huge impact on the entire company and the business model, and Kevin definitely does that with us.”

A a former NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series owner himself, Harvick has shared insights that have made a difference in the way JR Motorsports operates and competes. 

Perhaps that’s why the company’s two full-time drivers, Chase Elliott and Regan Smith, are 1-2 in the series standings right now.

Rooting from afar

Brad Keselowski spent Sunday afternoon in his motor coach at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but he wasn’t relaxing. 

Keselowski was watching the TV broadcast of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with particular interest, given that his Brad Keselowski Racing driver, Ryan Blaney, was locked in a high-intensity duel for the win against German Quiroga. 

Blaney edged in front of Quiroga at the finish line to win the dramatic battle, giving the team its second straight victory, after Keselowski himself scored his inaugural triumph on Aug. 21 at Bristol. 

“It was just great racing,” Keselowski said of Blaney’s victory. “Ryan and German put on an awesome show and a clinic of what racing should be. I’m just really proud of Ryan to get back on his feet there (after two straight finishes outside the top 10) and get a win. 

“I wouldn’t have thought his first win of the year would have come on a road course, but that makes it even more exciting. They certainly have some momentum back to make a run for this championship—and they’re poised to strike.” 

After the victory, Blaney is third in the series standings, just 13 points behind leader Johnny Sauter.

Bank on this sponsorship

During a press conference scheduled, appropriately, for 3:53 p.m. at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Roush Fenway Racing announced a three-year extension of its partnership with Fifth Third Bank as a primary sponsor on Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s No. 17 Ford. 

“Fifth Third plays a huge role in our organization’s business side, to let the competition side do their thing, and they also do a lot for me on my personal finances side,” said Stenhouse, who hoped he would have a chance to use one of the bank’s services after Sunday night’s Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta. 

“Hopefully, by the end of the night, we can use the Fifth Third mobile banking to deposit a big check. That would be nice.”

NASCAR Wire Service, Reid Spencer 

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Event Atlanta
Track Atlanta Motor Speedway
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Kevin Harvick , Johnny Sauter , German Quiroga , Regan Smith , Brad Keselowski , Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , Ryan Blaney , Chase Elliott
Teams Roush Fenway Racing , JR Motorsports
Article type Race report
Tags camping world truck, nascar nationwide