The media poked Kevin Harvick, and he was happy to respond.
“You really want to get me started on schedules?” Harvick quipped Tuesday afternoon on the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte.
Yes, yes, we do. The NASCAR veteran has seen the sport evolve since his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2001 and at 42 years old, Harvick has never lacked for a quote. After admitting the February-to-November schedule is long, Harvick said what pleases him about 2018 is seeing a few things get mixed up.
Indianapolis is now the playoff cutoff race and moved to a race date where fans won’t “burn their rear ends off.” Richmond is now a playoff race, and Charlotte has added the first road course race to the postseason.
Yet Harvick would do more.
“I think there needs to be a rotation of the championship race,” he said. “I don’t think we should go to Homestead-Miami [Speedway] every year. I think it gets stale. It’s a great racetrack but it’s not all about the racetrack, it’s really about the event. How many times have you had a crappy Super Bowl, but everybody goes to the Super Bowl because it’s an event?”
How about Las Vegas as the first race of the playoffs? Good move from a market standpoint, Harvick says. And speaking of the playoffs, even with three appearances in the championship race in the last four years, the season’s last ten races needs to be shaken up, too.
“The market itself is something you have to pay attention to, and if you’re going to some of these places and the market is stale – I think all these racetracks should have the opportunity to have one race in the playoffs,” Harvick said. “I think there’s an opportunity to maybe have a wild-card race.
“And when you have all these renovations and things happening, maybe you give that track the opportunity to say, okay, you renovate your racetrack, you have the rights to take your date and lease it to somebody else during the renovation process, so that you can try new markets, and you can go have a unique event and then that gives that particular racetrack a grace period to get all the work done and not have a race [while] they keep working.”
Granted there are sanctioning agreements in place, and Harvick knows tracks want to make money. However, there are ways to get creative and continue to mix things up with what has primarily been a consistent NASCAR schedule.
“Because people don’t like the same thing,” Harvick continued. “You have to keep their attention and it can’t just be about the cars racing on the racetrack. You have to have a good race because they’re not all good, and if you make the schedule exciting and you make the events exciting, that’s what guarantees the people come back if they had a good time. And if you have a good race on top of it, great.”