Kevin Harvick wins at Michigan — and at being a dad
By Rick Minter/ Andrews McMeel Syndication
Kevin Harvick figured out a way to turn a runaway win in Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway into a feel-good story.
After leading 108 laps and winning both stages of the race for his league-leading seventh win of the season, Harvick shared his victory celebration with his 6-year-old son, Keelan.
It was Keelan who walked across the track and accepted the checkered flag, then climbed aboard his father’s No. 4 Ford for a victory lap around the track.
As Harvick slowly circled the two-mile speedway, Keelan held the checkered flag out the passenger side window. Even in Victory Lane, Keelan joined in the festivities, spraying a bottle of water on an unsuspecting official.
“It was pretty cool,” Harvick said of the father-son moment shared on national TV. “We got to go celebrate together. He’s been with me for the last three weeks, so we’ve had a big time.
“It’s pretty cool to look over there on your victory lap and see your 6-year-old in the passenger seat and being able to enjoy it with you. That was definitely way up there on the bucket list of things that you didn’t expect.
“That was pretty neat.”
Harvick also said that celebrating with his son on Sunday isn’t the only part of his job that he’s relished recently.
“I think, as you look at the year, you’ve got to remember, I spent a lot of years not having the most fun and not having the most success,” he said. “Over the past five years, we’ve been able to win a lot of races and do a lot of things on the racetrack and winning races and a championship. It’s been an incredible amount of stuff and wins packed into almost five years now.
“I’m just enjoying every moment, because you never know when it’s going to go the other way, and right now, our guys are just doing a great job, and I’m enjoying everything.”
Harvick said his and Keelan’s time away from home, where mom, Delana, was home with the Harvicks’ 8-month-old daughter, Piper, has been memorable, including the youngster’s crashing a golf cart into a tree and his first ride in a Quarter Midget race car.
“We’ve had some unapproved mom moments this weekend with the golf cart crash and the Quarter Midget,” Harvick said. “I’m sure that she’d probably be OK with him riding in the right side of the car since we didn’t do any burnouts.
“But as you look at it over the summer, like I say, he’s been with me for the last three weeks, and what other sport can you take your kids to work and be able to enjoy things like that with them, and for me as a dad, there’s not much better — and all you dads know this — than looking over and sharing one of your cool moments and looking over and the only person with you is your son.
“That’s pretty special.”
Others in the sport quickly took to Twitter to express their joy at seeing the father-son victory celebration.
“I love it,” wrote Paige Keselowski, the wife of Cup driver Brad Keselowski, and whose father, Louis White, is a Late Model racer from North Carolina. “Reminds me of riding around with my dad after his late model wins!!!”
Xfinity Series driver Daniel Hemric posted: “How awesome was that?!? What a special memory just made that will last a lifetime for both.”
And Sherry Pollex, girlfriend of Martin Truex Jr., weighed in too: “Seeing Keelan get to ride to VL with his Dad is pretty freaking cool.”
While some went online to lament the fact that Keelan’s story was receiving higher play than the events on the track before the checkered flag, there was drama throughout the day.
Among the more interesting developments was Ty Dillon’s crash after running over what appeared to be a battery on the track.
“I was just hoping it was a glove or something that wouldn’t collect it,” Dillon said. “As soon as it hit, it was like hitting a wall and I had no control of the car. I just drove it straight at 218 mph into the wall, no brakes, no nothing. Hopefully, NASCAR finds whose piece that was, because that shouldn’t happen in our sport.”
Then there was a pit gamble by Martin Truex’s team that took one of the sport’s Big Three out of contention for the win. Truex, trying to stretch his fuel and win the race’s second stage, ran dry and lost a lap getting back on track. He wound up 14th.
“We had a rough day for sure,” Truex said. “Everything that could go wrong did. … We never could get on the right end of things. We had a good car and that was cool because we worked hard on it today and we learned a lot this weekend.”
Brad Keselowski finished the race in second place, ahead of Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and Ryan Blaney.