Friday, November 23, 2018

100 Stock Car Racing "What Ifs": The Harvick Hullabaloo

Nascar has a long and storied history, but it also has a past littered with “What If?” questions.  Join author Mike Mackler as he takes a look back at stock car racing’s 100 most-intriguing hypotheticals in “100 Stock Car Racing ‘What Ifs’”, the book available on Amazon in both Paperback and Kindle formats.  Here’s a preview of one of the one hundred “What If” questions asked throughout the book:

3. What if Kevin Harvick hadn’t taken Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s ride after the 2001 Daytona 500?
Nascar's biggest all-time feel-good win?

Background: Dale Earnhardt Sr. was tragically killed on the final lap of the Daytona 500.  Team owner Richard Childress, fulfilling a promise made to Dale years prior, decided to keep the team going.  But who would be the new driver?

What Actually Happened: Childress called developmental driver Kevin Harvick into his office, offering him the ride made famous by The Intimidator.  Harvick agrees, and goes on to win in his third race in the renumbered 29 car.

What Could Have Been the Turning Point: What if he had turned down stepping into the second-brightest spotlight in the sport this side of Dale Jr, choosing instead to stay in RCR’s developmental program?

What COULD Have Happened: As the legend goes, Childress offered Harvick an out, saying that Rick Mast (the only active “name” driver without a full-time ride in 2001) would get the ride if he turned it down.
THIS could've been Harvick's ride

And if THAT Happened…: Harvick would’ve likely moved up in 2002 to the 30 AOL car that Jeff Green would up getting.  Mast would’ve likely been a short-term solution in the 3/29, and perhaps there would’ve been an earlier attempt to break Jeff Burton—Dale Sr’s hand-picked successor—from his Roush contract.

What Else Could Have Happened: One would have to wonder if Kevin Harvick would’ve gained nearly the popularity (and sponsorability) he did if people knew he’d turned down a Cup ride.  Would he have gone on to win a Cup championship, or would he have faded into a career of mid-range equipment?

Why It Had to Turn Out The Way It Did: Cup rides don’t open up all that often, and prime rides like RCR’s primary car in 2001 open up less-so.  Harvick had to take the ride when he did, and his career is all the better for it.

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