Dale Jr.: No. 3 fans want Harvick to win
What aspect of being a Chase for the Sprint Cup contender has surprised Kevin Harvick the most?
The outpouring of encouragement that both he and Richard Childress Racing has received from Dale Earnhardt Sr. fans — even Dale Jr.
Junior acknowledges that the organization he drives for, Hendrick Motorsports, and his teammate, Jimmie Johnson, have equally earned the right to be vying for the title. But on Sunday, the fans that supported his father will be behind the No. 29 Chevrolet.
“Yes, absolutely. I think that (Earnhardt fans) definitely want to see Richard (Childress) do well,” Earnhardt said. “And Harvick’s got a pretty good reputation in the sport. He’s done an awesome job since he took over for that team. He’s always been real respectful toward my father and his legacy with that company. I think Harvick has carved his own niche with that company and made a name for himself.
“It would be awesome for Richard, He sure put the work in it. They deserve it, just like Jimmie and those guys, They’ve put in a lot of hard work over there. They’re well respected as a group, as individual teams and a company. I think that every Earnhardt fan out there has to be pulling for Richard’s deal, especially now with them having the opportunity to win. I think that makes a lot of sense.”
For nearly a decade, Earnhardt fans have been looking for a place to land. Many naturally migrated to Junior, while others became Tony Stewart disciples. But with Harvick and the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing team enjoying its best opportunity to win a seventh title for the organization built by R.C. and Earnhardt, many of Intimidator supporters have found a home.
Although Harvick qualified 28th on Friday for the Ford 400, the boost of additional fans could carry him to the front on Sunday.
“This week has been very different for me,” Harvick admits. “As you look at Twitter and you hear the phone calls coming into the shop and you listen to the voicemails, all these old-school Earnhardt fans have come out of nowhere and all of a sudden the support has been unbelievable from the race fans and people who hadn’t watched races for a while.
“This is no disrespect to Dale Jr., he’s had a couple of tough years, but those people are looking for something to grab on to. It’s almost been overwhelming this week with the support of those fans, whether it be Dale Jr. fans or Dale Earnhardt Sr. fans. It’s been a big eye opener to me. Those people are looking for something that is attached to Dale Sr., to say that they’re back on top again. It’s been the support of not only my core group of fans but you have this whole other group of fans that are back and interested in what we’re doing as a team.”