Harvick ‘peeking behind the curtain’ at Hendrick Motorsports

Kevin Harvick turned heads when he entered the North Wilkesboro Speedway media center Friday afternoon.

Harvick, who retired at the end of the 2023 season from Stewart-Haas Racing, was not only back in a NASCAR Cup Series fire suit, but one he’d never been seen in before.

Blue and white, with a touch of red, it was an outfit that displayed and other logos for the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team.

In a one-off, Harvick is practicing and qualifying Kyle Larson’s car for the NASCAR All-Star Race. Larson is in Indianapolis, preparing to attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

“It’s definitely not the attire that I thought I would be wearing this year,” Harvick quipped. “But it’s been a fun process.”


Harvick’s fill-in role was announced last month, and he’s been fully involved with the preparations for the race weekend. The former series champion has gone through a seat fitting, made easier by Stewart-Haas Racing, which provided Hendrick Motorsports with the seats and seat rails that Harvick used to use. Harvick has also been in the simulator and all necessary team meetings.

“I heard from the [team] owner twice in two weeks,” Harvick said, laughing about what has struck him the most working with a new organization. “That’s different. It’s interesting to see…the race shop and the structure and the way that everybody goes about it differently. There are a million different ways you can do things, but I think the thing that sticks out for me about Hendrick Motorsports, in general, is it’s truly run like a business that’s part of an actual structure of how things flow and who you talk to.

“There’s the depth of the business side and the racing side. It’s deep. I think that is pretty eye-opening… I like structure, so I think that’s something that has been good to see.”

Now an analyst with Fox Sports in the broadcast booth each weekend, Harvick’s time on the track is admittedly priceless. Acknowledging how quickly the sport evolves, the former series champion is glad he’ll be able to relate to viewers what the car is currently doing, how the two tire options felt during practice and the way the track felt on new asphalt.

Plus, Harvick is getting firsthand insight into how one of the best teams in the Cup Series garage operates. By working with Cliff Daniels and hearing a different team, Harvick can also share how the group processes.

“The more detail we have, the more we have to talk about and relay to the people and you guys to understand,” Harvick said. “I really look at it as we want to teach people what our sport is, as well, and the things that are happening. There are a number of things that go into that to make the car go around the racetrack that people just have no idea [about].”

Harvick has been impressed by how methodically Daniels and his team have approached the weekend, not only in getting Harvick ready for his Friday assignment, but also for when Larson gets into the car for Sunday night’s race. The team is going for back-to-back wins in the NASCAR All-Star Race.

It’s also been fascinating to have the opportunity to see how another organization operates.

“I was very fortunate to have a very, very good race team at Stewart-Haas,” Harvick said. “To walk into another very, very good race team and see the things that go on and happen, it’s fun to get a peek behind the curtain. I think that Kyle is very good at whatever he races, but Cliff is also very understanding of the fact that he’s off racing other things. How they talk about things and when they go through things with Kyle is very interesting. It seems like they want him to keep being Kyle and to be able to talk about the things they need in their car and how they structure things with Kyle and when they meet with him and why they do that – that part to me is very insightful because we all tick a little bit different.

“Kyle likes to race all the time. Some guys don’t like to race at all, they just want to race the Cup car and show up on the weekend and do that. Some guys like to race in the Xfinity car. There’s a balance for everybody that gets the most out of them, and it seems like they’ve leaned into letting Kyle be Kyle and that’s not always the case with everybody that drives in the Cup Series.”

Story originally appeared on Racer