Kevin Harvick on first Daytona 500 as analyst: ‘Way more intense than I thought’

On Monday, likely future NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Kevin Harvick swapped places to call his first Daytona 500 as a race analyst. His decision to join FOX Sports ahead of the 2024 Cup Series season comes just months after his final race as a full-time driver, where he led 23 laps en route to a seventh-place finish at Phoenix. 

In the first episode of his new podcast, “Kevin Harvick’s Happy Hour,” the 2007 Daytona 500 champion reflected on his first time calling the iconic NASCAR event, which saw William Byron win by a narrow margin.

“It was way more intense than I thought it was going to be,” Harvick said. “We got to the duels and the worst part for me is the lineup. I stressed out more about the lineup and reading the lineup than I do anything else. And for whatever reason, that’s the most structured part of the whole show. 

“[But] overall I thought it went well. I mean, obviously, there are a lot of things that [I] need to get better at and understand. But for the most part, I think it went pretty smooth.”

Kevin Harvick reacts to William Byron’s Daytona 500 win | Harvick’s Happy Hour

Prior to his retirement in November, Harvick was known for being the last member of the “Young Guns” era of NASCAR alongside Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman, who all arrived in the early 2000s. Harvick’s most notable accomplishments include winning the 2014 Cup Series Championship in his first season driving for Stewart-Haas as well as capturing the 2007 Daytona 500. He also won the 2001 and 2006 Xfinity Series championships. 

“It was a different rush,” said Harvick of calling the Daytona 500. “For me, when you hear the pre-race, and you hear everything that comes with what they put together and the excitement that goes with everything that is going on the air and you realize, like I got, I kind of got, I kind of got jacked up, it made the hair stand up on my arms. And then we came on the air and I was pretty pumped up to be there.”

Kevin Harvick reminisces on his three Cup Series wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Harvick’s 121 combined national series wins currently rank him third all-time in NASCAR history, behind Richard Petty and Kyle Busch, respectively. Yet, despite his legendary career behind the wheel, which started in 1992, he still gets chills from the booth at the start of races.

“When they were coming to the green flag, and the crowd stands up, and we’re able to feel that feeling of the crowd being excited, and all of a sudden the cars start to go through the gears and you feel the roar of the cars and the pitch of the engine start to pick up and then they come by…to me, one of the coolest parts is the first lap after the restarts when the cars are all still really packed up and they’re all 100 percent throttle and really going.”

While this is his first season as a full-time commentator, Harvick has worked as a broadcaster on occasion for NASCAR on FOX since 2015, calling Xfinity Series races. 

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