Kevin Harvick likes driving racecars. He also likes winning races. Running the XFINITY races can also help with the Sprint Cup race on Sunday as it helps learn the rhythm needed for success, by learning exactly where the “bumps and cracks” are to learn how to “drive over, lean on and use to your advantage”.
Though heading with JR Motorsports to victory lane, it’s also about something special.
While he is excited to score the victory himself at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he’s even more excited watching the new guys that are part of the No. 88 team, namely crew chief Dave Elenz, go to the victory lane for the first time.
“That’s kind of the motivating factor for me – to come in with these guys and help them through the process of learning his new duties and pressures that come with it, and the engineers,” Harvick commented. “We’re headed down that good road and getting a taste of success is something that keeps everybody motivated and takes the edge off the nerves of the newness.”
Harvick likes to see the success of the individuals across the organization as the team has proven to be a good breeding ground for Hendrick Motorsports’ Sprint Cup Series program, which Harvick’s Cup team Stewart-Haas Racing team works closely with. Greg Ives won the championship last year with Chase Elliott, and has now moved on to crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Sprint Cup.
“It’s exciting for me to be apart of that, and for me, it’s refreshing because you have to think,” Harvick explained. “I have to think about what’s really going on because you don’t have a lot of tires to practice, you have a lot of history in the series and knowledge of the things and past experiences that you have, and the conversations that we’ve had this past weekend have been fun because he wants to hear what I have to say. It’s fun to me to listen to him deciefer everything and digest what you tell him and make some decisions.”
Elenz obviously made the right decisions as he was able to get the car better on each run for Harvick, leading to the eventual victory.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Harvick continued. “It’s about getting them comfortable with not only being competitive but winning, and knowing they have a path to do what they want to do. He went from being a lead engineer to a crew chief and now has a path to go somewhere to be a crew chief on a Cup car one day.”
Moving forward, Harvick added that the win is huge for the team as it gives them confidence in their own abilities and the ability to work with each other.
“If you put the right people together – you got a new group together and all of sudden race two they’re in victory lane, they’re looking around at each other and realizing that guy did his job this weekend, that guy did his job,” Harvick commented. “Now we just need to build on this and move forward. That kind of stuff is neat for me to be apart of.”