Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, March 15, 2018, 11:45 a.m.
One of my favorite lines in a song come from “Rodeo Cowboy” by Dave Gilstrap, popularly recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker:
Gimme a beer or two and I’ll be fine / Least it worked every other time / I’m a rodeo-deo-deo-deo cowboy / Bordering on the insane
Kevin Harvick might win anywhere, but he’s not going to win everywhere. He might win at Fontana. He might win at Martinsville. He might win tonight in a K&N West race somewhere near Harvick’s hometown, Bakersfield, California.
The reason that, at age 42, Harvick is at the peak of his skills is that he is a driver who drives. The drivers who advance to a relatively advanced age without having their performance notably decline are the ones who remain active.
Mark Martin. Harry Gant. Bobby Allison. Kyle Busch will last a long time for the same reason.
I’ve been informally charting this for 25 years. Every time I write it, people ignore it. They don’t want to believe it. Every driver on the downhill slide gets indignant. “I’m as good as I ever was!” Then he finally retires, and one day he takes me aside and says, “I should’ve quit five years before I did.”
When Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500, the forecast was for many more upsets. A new generation was emerging over the horizon, all bright and sunny. Veterans were cowering and shading their eyes, unaccustomed to such light.
Harvick has won Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Only the last provided noteworthy strength of opposition.
At the moment, “Stop Harvick!” rivals “Remember the Alamo!” and “Make America Great Again!” It seems as if nothing can do the trick unless Harvick agrees to play Col. Sanders in a KFC commercial.
It is not supposed to be this way, and it will not remain this way. Other teams are working hard. NASCAR officials are working hard. Every team in NASCAR believes it works harder than any other team. If Harvick, Rodney Childers, Tony Stewart, Gene Haas, etc., are indeed working harder than the others, it’s not a good idea to flaunt it.
Being racers, of course, the aforementioned will get while the getting’s good, but, in the end, they might as well be a gang of outlaws with a posse in hot pursuit. They might outsmart them for a while, but, next thing you know, the good citizens of Rio Lobo will call in the U.S. Cavalry.
Even the irresistible force gets reckoned with by the immovable object.
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