After a great 2014 Sprint Cup finish, Harvick thanks ESPN for helping his career get started

NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick visited the SportsCenter set with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Trophy. (Photo courtesy of Matt Nordby/NASCAR Communications)
NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick visited the SportsCenter set with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Trophy. (Photo courtesy of Matt Nordby/NASCAR Communications)
ESPN is a big part of the reason I got the break in my career. I got exposed to people I couldn’t get exposed to [otherwise]. – Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick has visited ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. headquarters several times during his auto racing career, but Wednesday’s trip will be most cherished.

Harvick is the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, a title won Sunday on ESPN’s last live NASCAR race telecast. For Harvick, 38, it is the first Sprint Cup season title of his career.

Making appearances on SportsCenter and other ESPN platforms as the circuit’s champion is fitting: In the 1990s, he cut his teeth competing in the late model stock car and truck racing circuits ESPN aired.

“ESPN is a big part of the reason I got the break in my career. I got exposed to people I couldn’t get exposed to [otherwise] while I was in California, growing up and racing,” the Bakersfield, Calif. native said.

Harvick recalls getting a recruiting call from Richard Childress Racing shortly after making an impressive showing on ESPN’s airwaves on the lower-tier circuits. Harvick competed for the Childress Sprint Cup team from 2001-2013 before joining Stewart-Haas Racing for this season.

Harvick cherishes relationships he built with ESPN racing commentators, analysts and reporters past and present including John Kernan, Dr. Jerry Punch (“he’s a guy I’ve always had great conversations with”), Ricky Craven and the late Benny Parsons, among others.

The one win I was looking for all year was against [ESPN Senior Fantasy Analyst] Matthew Berry. I was able to beat his fantasy football team. If that was the only game I had won all year, that would have been fine. – Kevin Harvick, regarding his entry in the ESPN NASCAR Charity League (see box below)

On both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup circuits, Harvick interacted with ESPN commentators during races. Playing the role of in-race reporter for ESPN viewers provided “the two things, in my mind, that are most important – exposure for the sponsors and access for the fans,” he said.

Harvick is open to future possibilities with ESPN: If he were to co-anchor SportsCenter, he’d look forward to working with the show’s Kevin Negandhi or – if he were to recruit another NASCAR driver as his partner at the desk – Clint Bowyer.

“You never know what’s coming out of his mouth next,” Harvick said of Bowyer.

The Sprint Cup Championship Trophy accompanied Harvick on each of his ESPN “Car Wash” stops Wednesday. That distinction made this ESPN visit the best.

“Any time you’re doing all these shows as the champion has brought new meaning to it, for sure,“ he said. “You’re not just here talking about what you could do, now you’re talking about what you’ve just done.”

Another 2014 victory Kevin Harvick cherishes

Through the years of his association with ESPN, Kevin Harvick has starred in a memorable “This Is SportsCenter” spot. He also has developed a friendly rivalry with Matthew Berry, ESPN’s Senior Fantasy Analyst.

On SportsCenter in September, Berry humorously assessed Harvick’s fantasy football drafting abilities in the ESPN NASCAR Charity League. Later that same day, Harvick reflected on that SportsCenter experience with Front Row.

Since then, Harvick’s team defeated Berry’s in a head-to-head matchup, a victory the driver clearly savors.

“The one win I was looking for all year was against Matthew Berry. I was able to beat his fantasy football team. If that was the only game I had won all year, that would have been fine,” said Harvick, who thanks Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson and New England Patriots kicker and fellow “This Is SportsCenter” star Stephen Gostkowski for helping him to victory.

“[Berry’s] a great guy, and the league that we started with all the drivers and him has been a lot of fun.”

As seen in the Budweiser Racing Tweet above, Harvick (seated, second from left) and Berry (standing, right) ran into each other during Harvick’s ESPN “Car Wash” on Wednesday.

Back to top button