Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kevin Harvick Comes Full Circle From Dramatic Cup Debut

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Sitting on stage just to the left of his two championship rivals for a final NASCAR championship contenders press conference, Kevin Harvick leaned back in his chair and smiled, listening to Sprint Cup series points leader Denny Hamlin and second place Jimmie Johnson trade barbs and confidently explain how they planned to rise to the occasion in Sunday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

At times they looked awkward and uncomfortable with the situation -- each arguing the other was under greater pressure -- while Harvick, a 46-point third place underdog, couldn't have appeared more settled, looking every bit his nickname, "Happy" Harvick.

Pressure? That was 10 years ago.

"It seems like it has worked backwards for me with coming in and taking over Dale's (Earnhardt) car,'' said Harvick, 35, who was picked by Richard Childress to drive the late seven-time champion's car in the days after Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash in the 2001 Daytona 500.

"You started with the biggest press conference you'll ever be a part of in your whole life. You start with the weight of the world on your shoulders. As it's gone through the years, it's actually gotten easier. It's almost like you've gotten prepared for these situations before you even got started.

"There is no pressure this week. It's so easy, we're having fun, we're relaxed. We realize we have a small deficit to overcome and we've done it throughout the year beating both cars. So we're having fun with it.''


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