Although much of his built-in popularity came from his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., fans don’t seem to care as much about success on the track as Harvick would like.
He also didn’t buy Harvick’s claim that he was stunting NASCAR’s growth.
“I know that those aren’t the most popular comments, but those are real-life facts that you look up and see on the stat sheet”. And thus far, his final full season has been a struggle, with only four top-10 finishes in 22 races and nine finishes of 30th or worse.
Harvick, who is fourth in Cup points, captured the Cup Series championship in 2014 for SHR.
“It’s a amusing situation when you talk about his past year and what you thought it would be”, Harvick said.
“The growth in [NASCAR] has not reached the levels that it should have because our most popular driver has not been our most successful driver”, Harvick said. But NASCAR needs more than just another driver to take over the role of being the most popular. If NASCAR’s next most popular driver is a driver is a highly successful championship contender, just like LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Peyton Manning in their respective, leagues, that will help boost that driver’s popularity in a way Dale Jr.’s never was.
“I certainly hope that’s not the case”, Earnhardt said. They need that driver to be one with Dale Jr. -caliber popularity who actually delivers great results almost every race and competes for championships every season. “I’m not really known as a great qualifier so maybe over time I’ve probably put a little less stock into qualifying, but I can tell you that when I saw that we were going to win the pole over the last few seconds of qualifying that it put chills down my body”.
While complimenting still Harvick on Thursday for helping his XFINITY Series team, JR Motorsports, when he drove for it between 2014 and 2016, Earnhardt said Harvick’s comments about stunting NASCAR were “hurtful.”
“I know I have not met everyone’s expectations … but I certainly exceeded my own”, said Earnhardt, who is 23rd in Cup points, on Thursday. “I brought something to the table and left a good impact”.
Harvick replaced Earnhardt Sr.at Richard Childress Racing following his death in 2001.
While giving actual things is cool and all, Earnhardt said he doesn’t exactly have room in his house for everything, and he’d prefer tracks give charitable gifts in his honor instead, like the jukebox Kentucky Speedway gave a children’s hospital or the service puppies Sonoma Raceway named after him and his wife, Amy. “I found some of those comments hurtful”.
Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski, the 2012 series champion, won the pole for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 with a lap of 203.097 miles-per-hour in the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford with Penske teammate Joey Logano (203.063) joining him on the front row.