|08/29/19||DIBENNEDETTO NASCAR'S ROCKY BALBOA|
|06/26/19||FROM JOURNEYMAN DRIVER TO HALL OF FAMER|
|06/18/19||WINNERS NOT ADDING UP|
|05/25/19||THE 600 IS STILL A CROWN JEWEL|
|05/15/19||NEXT TWO WEEKS COULD BE TOO GOOD|
|04/10/19||WALTRIP A TWO-WAY HALL OF FAMER|
KEVIN HARVICK - THREE FINGER SALUTE
Since 2014, Kevin Harvick had turned in one dominating performance after another as he tried to grab his second victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Yet, time an again he proved the fastest car doesn't always win. His frustration level was growing
It was a pretty big idea and he had been sitting on it for nearly two decades. So, after crossing the line to take the checkered flag in the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500, Harvick keyed the radio and told crew chief Rodney Childers,"I've been waiting 17 years to do what I'm about to do."
Harvick turned his car around in the opposite direction so the driver's door of the Jimmy John's Ford was facing the fans in the grandstands, the window net dropped, and his left arm came out through the window with three fingers held aloft. Suddenly, we were all transported back to 2001 and the flood of emotions that went with it.
You see only three races and three weeks after Dale Earnhardt's iconic "3" car smashed into the wall on the last lap of the Daytona 500 that year, killing the seven-time champion, Harvick, a relatively unknown rookie from Bakersfield, CA Richard Childress had hastily chosen to take his place, found himself at Atlanta Motor Speedway and, unexpectedly, out front as the race came down to the end. Then, Jeff Gordon appeared in his rearview mirror and in the final turn on the final lap drove inside the newly numbered, white not black, "29" Goodwrench Chevrolet. The two nearly touched as they streaked across the finish line with Harvick getting there first by inches and six-thousandths of a second.
PRN provided the national radio broadcast that day and I was lucky enough to call the finish. I will never forget what I said, "…with the ghost of Dale Earnhardt looking on, Kevin Harvick has just pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NASCAR history!"
Said Childress, "I kept praying for Dale to help us and he did."
This was Earnhardt's car and Earnhardt's team and Harvick wanted to find a way to honor their fallen hero so he spun the car around in the opposite direction so he would ride driver's side to the grandstands and they could see his left arm out the window with three fingers held high. Sound familiar? Back then, however, people were hugging and crying as he went by.
Who knew it was his heart's desire to do it again. "I think for me, to be able to kind of do that celebration again, very similar to what we did in 2001, I've been waiting a long time, because 2001 was very confusing," Harvick explained after Sunday's win. "It was my first win and don't feel like I remember really anything about it because it was just such a really confusing time in my life."
"It was fun to be able to go to actually pay tribute and smile about what was going on in the night and not just know if you should actually stick your hand out the window, if somebody was going to be offended or somebody was going to be mad and whether it was the right thing to do or wrong thing to do and it was your first win. So, there was just a lot of confusing things. It felt good to pay tribute to that and park it in Victory Lane with a smile on my face and watch everybody smile with me."
Even in a day and age where most race fans could care less about NASCAR's history or heroes, Earnhardt remains revered and remembered. He's also been connected closely to the first two races of the Monster Energy Cup Series season with Austin Dillon driving the "3" to victory in the Daytona 500, 20-years after the "Intimidator" had won NASCAR's biggest race.
That followed by Harvick's blast from the past Atlanta triumph. "Well, it means a lot to me, and it's funny and ironic how all these things line up, and it's kind of ironic how we wound up in Victory Lane that day, and Dale's teams won the first two races and we were able to win the next race in 2001. You see that 3 back in Victory Lane and us back in Victory Lane tonight, it's just almost ?? it's just how it's meant to be."
I couldn't agree more.