NASCAR America: Kevin Harvick opens up about his past in revealing interview

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In a revealing interview with NBCSN’s Marty Snider, Kevin Harvick provided a rare window into his tumultuous early seasons in Cup.

Harvick, who is vying for his fourth consecutive victory Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, endured his share of controversies after being thrust into Cup the week after Dale Earnhardt was killed on the final lap of the Daytona 500.

He would win his third start in the No. 29 Chevrolet, but he still wrestled with the weight of racing in NASCAR’s premier series for Richard Childress Racing.

“It was very strange the way I was brought into the light of the racing world,” Harvick said during A Driver’s Drive feature on Thursday’s NASCAR America. “When Dale (Earnhardt) died, you step into this car, and these people want you to be like him.

“Well, I rebelled. I wanted nothing to do with being like him. There were some struggles throughout the year at RCR. In order to keep yourself relevant, you had to find a headline. In order to find a headline you had to do something that wasn’t right, like jump over a car, or say something you shouldn’t. So you were constantly creating moments you felt were keeping you in the headlines.”

The Bakersfield, California, native said he eventually realized that racing wasn’t a job but the realization of a dream that began as a 5-year-old racing go-karts in a dirt field. The son of a fireman and a secretary worked on his race cars inside a tiny shop with a tin exterior, rats in the sewer drain and a restaurant next door that precluded painting bodies until 1 a.m.

Harvick said what he loves most about competition is “to beat somebody, and they don’t think you should have beat them, and they don’t know how. There’s no bigger thrill than beating the guy you’re not supposed to beat or winning a race you’re not supposed to win.”

Watch the video by clicking above.