NASCAR

Harvick to race for first time as father

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LOUDON, N.H. (AP)

Kevin Harvick does a better job driving around the track than to the delivery room.

And now that his son is nearly a week old, he can relax more when he competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

''The most relaxed that I've been able to be in weeks,'' Harvick said Friday.

He got his wife DeLana to the hospital in North Carolina with little time to spare last Sunday when she gave birth to Keelan.

''She did a great job and had a baby within about two hours,'' Harvick said. ''Dad waited a little long to get her to the hospital.''

But he couldn't use his competitive driving skills because DeLana was in pain.

''We didn't make any real fast corners,'' he said. ''We could go straight and fast. I had been to the doctor's office several times so I knew where every bump was. So I didn't get yelled at on the drive over and that was my goal.''

Harvick had flown last Saturday morning from Daytona, where he was to compete that night at the International Speedway. Seeing that the birth was not imminent, he returned about 3 p.m. to Daytona, where he was involved in a late accident and finished 23rd.

Then he flew back home.

Had Keelan arrived on Saturday, Harvick said he would have skipped the race. At sixth place in the standings, he's in good position to qualify for one of the 12 spots in the Chase with 10 races left before that begins.

''I was actually home and prepared not to come back if that situation had come to that point,'' Harvick said. ''If things would have progressed in the direction that they did Sunday morning, I would have just stayed there.''

He had Kenny Wallace on standby to replace him, but it wasn't necessary.

Now he can approach his first race as a father without the uncertainty of not knowing how the birth would go.

''There's just that anxiety. As you get closer you just want to know, `is everybody going to be good?' `' Harvick said. ''It's definitely a huge sense of relief to be able to come to the track and everybody is smiling and healthy. That makes me feel a lot better.''

Tagged: Kevin Harvick

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