DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - You know the knock on NASCAR drivers who become fathers: they get soft, they lose their edge, they stop driving out on the wrecking edge. It's not a hard-and-fast rule; Jimmie Johnson won a Cup soon after the birth of his daughter, and if we're not mistaken, Dale Earnhardt also had kids while he was winning all seven of his championships. But there's enough of the could-be in the fatherhood-kills-your-drive theory to keep it alive.
On Thursday at Media Day, Kevin Harvick, a father since July, shared some of his perspective on how fatherhood has — and, for racing purposes, hasn't — changed him.
"I think having my son has really helped keep a new balance on life that you didn't really understand until you had a child," he said. "For me, I become so emotional and so attached to what happens on the racetrack, if it's going good, if it's going bad. Now you have this way of coming home and letting all those things go for two or three days, then you come back to the track and you hadn't thought about it all week and you're really focused at being at the racetrack."
But when something new comes into an already-full life, something else has to go. For Harvick, the decision to shutter his truck team at the end of the 2011 season was a necessary move. "Couldn't be dad, team owner and driver on Sunday and be successful, probably at any of them," he said. "We had to eliminate one. That new balance adds to your life, lets you be more focused and hopefully more competitive on the weekends."
2012 was a disappointment for Harvick; while he made the Chase, he never got out of the lower-top-10 range, and his lone win came in the season's penultimate race in Phoenix. He's a lame duck this year at Richard Childress Racing as he prepares to move to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
The odds on lame-duck drivers having success aren't good; everyone's got an eye on next year. But if Harvick does fall short this season, at least he won't be blaming his kid. That's good news.
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