Author: Jeff Owens
Date: Nov. 22, 2015
HOMESTEAD, Fla. — When Kevin Harvick looked up at the television screen and saw Kyle Busch celebrating his first Sprint Cup championship, he smiled.
It might have been the ultimate tribute from Harvick, who hasn’t always seen eye to eye with Busch. The two have had their share of run-ins and disagreements over the years, but Sunday night was about respect and honoring two Cup champions.
Harvick, who won his first championship last year, could relate to Busch.
“It's just exciting. I think when you race your whole life and you accomplish what you've raced for your whole life, it's exciting,” Harvick said. “I've been fortunate to experience that last year and know that feeling and know how gratifying that is. You know, it's fun to see that excitement.”
Like everyone else, Harvick was amazed at Busch’s comeback from a broken leg that caused him to miss the first 11 races of the season. Busch won four of five races in June to make the Chase and cemented his comeback by winning the season finale and beating runner-up Harvick for the title.
“He broke his leg at Daytona, and to come back from everything that he came back from … that's a great comeback story from where he was after Daytona.”
In a sense, Harvick and Busch have a lot in common. They both are fierce competitors and hard chargers with hot tempers — emotions that sometimes ran so hot it got them in trouble with both NASCAR and other drivers.
But since getting married and having children, both matured greatly and learned how to win championships. Harvick celebrated with his 3-year-old son after winning last year’s title, as Busch did Sunday night with his 6-month-old son.
“You know, I think as you go through time in general, as a person, you mature and you get more mature through time, whether you're doing dumb things at the racetrack or not and learning from those things,” Harvick said. “Those obviously are unfortunately part of our life lessons, some more than others, and I think Kyle and I have definitely been on that side of it.
“But you know, I think you see that little guy that he holds in his arms, and you know, it puts things in a different perspective. It used to be you didn't want to have kids because it took the fire out of you from driving the car, and now it seems to have calmed a lot of us down to the point where we can focus and do the things that we need to do to concentrate on our jobs.”
And like many others, Harvick doesn’t believe Busch, 30, is through winning championships. This could be the start of something big.
“He's overcome a lot, but man, he's still pretty young,” said Harvick, 39. “When you really look back at it, I think he's 30 years old? Yeah, so I mean, it seems like he's matured a lot, and he has, but he's still pretty young. I don't have that excuse (laughter).”
To view this article as it appears on SportingNews.com, click here.