Nationwide is on Happy's Side


Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 33 Armour Chevrolet celebrates in Victory Lane after winning Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Nashville 300 at Nashville Superspeedway via - Credit: John Sommers II/Getty Images for NASCAR 

Kevin Harvick's win in Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series Nashville 300 was his second win of 2010 and the third win for the organization he co-owns, Kevin Harvick, Inc, as he won the Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March and Tony Stewart took February's season-opening Drive4COPD 300 in a KHI-prepared Chevrolet.

The win also moved Harvick to fifth in points, just sixty-one markers behind leader Carl Edwards. It is likely that, if not for a blown engine and resultant 38th-place finish in the second race of the year in Fontana, Harvick would top the standings.

There has been talk that Harvick would attempt to win his third Nationwide Series championship and run all 35 events on this year's schedule while also handling his "day job" duties in Richard Childress's #29 Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series. As it is, Harvick has yet to officially state whether he will make a run at the title, but one would have to believe that if he was considering it, and granted that his #33 team can keep up it's performance, Nashville was probably the clincher.

Now I know it is blasphemous to suggest that a Cup driver make a run at the Nationwide title, but Harvick should, for more reasons than just his early season performance.

First up, if Nationwide is on Kevin's side, so is history. His last two full seasons in the Nationwide Series were in 2001 and 2006, when the circuit was still sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. Both years he claimed the series championship, besting PPC Racing teammates Jeff Green and Jason Keller over the long haul in '01 and absolutely trouncing the competition with a nine-win romp in '06.

One could say that running the Nationwide car would have potentially adverse effects on his Cup program, but 2001 and 2006 are also the only two seasons in which Harvick has won multiple point-paying races on the Cup side.

Another reason Harvick should go for Kyle Busch's trophy is the competition, chiefly Carl Edwards. The pair exchanged barbs through the media in advance of March's Bristol weekend, but even prior to that it was clear that as driver relationships go, this one is downright frosty.

Fans - and ESPN, exclusive broadcast partner of the Nationwide Series across its family of networks - would clamor to see the two plane jumping across the country in midsummer and making mad-dashes from the Cup garage to the Nationwide garage and vice-versa during companion weekends all the while locked in a bitter championship duel between two men who genuinely don't like one another - and perhaps, as is always possible when Harvick, known for his occasional role as an instigator, is in the mix, an even more bitter war of words.

Harvick's personality in general; a fiery competitor with perhaps the most mischievous personality of anyone this side of Tony Stewart, known as Happy both for his seemingly ever-present smirks and grins and facetiously to describe his sometimes uneven temperament, would simply add a little more spice to this year's Nationwide title race.

With Harvick into a contract season this year in Sprint Cup, expanding his schedule, which he has already done by running three Camping World Truck Series races - and winning two of them - is probably the best way to minimalize the inevitable distraction of incessant questioning from the media on the subject.

Finally, Cup driver or not, a championship for Harvick, driving not for a Sprint Cup-affiliated team (engines aside) as with his first two championships but rather for an organization he and wife, DeLana, started out of pocket in 2001 as a team with a single truck built behind their house and sculpted into the competitive force it is today would have the makings of somewhat of a feel-good story.

Now of course, as long as Harvick is "having fun" as he has put it, all of these points are irrelevant. He'll run for the championship regardless. But if he does, these will be things to watch over the course of the 2010 season.

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