Prior to visiting victory lane in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 last Sunday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon to secure his position in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Kevin Harvick was asked about the current state of NASCAR racing tactics.
His comment was very simple.
“If you drove like this 10 years ago, you’d have a fist in your mouth.”
Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is one of the last remaining Generation X drivers to experience such history in NASCAR, and he used his vast driving experience when he battled door-to-door and banged fenders with Denny Hamlin in the thrilling final lap at New Hampshire to score his first race win of the season. It put him in position to race for his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Generation X is pretty much defined as anyone born between the years 1965 and 1980. Harvick was born in 1975, grew up during the 1980s, and made his NASCAR touring series debut in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 1995 at the age of 19 and now stands as an elder statesman in the Cup Series.
Even his personal “Happy Harvick” logo of a smiley face with flames is a takeoff of the original smiley face logo created in the late 1960s and made popular in the 1970s. It was slightly altered to highlight his rather sunny disposition off the track while being known for his fiery personality behind the wheel.
The folks at Busch Beer, who read some comments Harvick made in 2018 about older guys being better than the heavily hyped younger guys in the Cup Series garage, came up with a pink Millennial Car for the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway after millennial driver Joey Logano won the Cup Series championship in 2018.
Busch is at it again, but this time in a way more fitting for its driver’s generation – a No. 4 Busch Beer Gen X #4The Cup Ford Mustang. The car will sport images of things that Gen Xers once embraced, including boom boxes, skateboards, and words like “gnarly” and “fresh.” Generation X also is known for MTV (yes, there were music videos), 8-bit video games (Zelda anyone?), Miami Vice (White Suits rule), and making mix-tapes for their boom boxes or Sony Walkman (Hello, Huey Lewis and the News). While Gen Xers certainly have their gnarly style quirks, they also have a hardened edge to their personality.
Generation X is known for earning it, something Harvick is still looking to do for the first time at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, where the Cup Series Gander RV 400 takes place Sunday. He has won at every track on the NASCAR circuit save for Pocono and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. But he’s finished in the top-10 in eight of 11 races at Pocono since joining SHR, including four runner-up finishes.
In his six seasons with crew chief Rodney Childers at SHR, the duo has combined to produce 23 points-paying victories, a victory in the non-points-paying 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte, 22 poles, 100 top-five finishes and 139 top-10s while leading 9,140 laps.
They won the 2014 championship, finished runner-up in the 2015 title chase to champion Kyle Busch, finished eighth in 2016 and third in 2017 and 2018. The team has qualified for the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway four times in the last five years.
Perhaps, if Harvick wins at the 2.5-mile oval this week, he’ll play a little music – on his old Walkman, per chance? – to celebrate, something like “You’re the Best Around” by Joe Esposito from the 1984 movie, The Karate Kid.
Because a participation trophy is not needed – Harvick wants to earn this trophy.
That is what Gen Xers do.