This week’s edition of The Dale Jr. Download may be one of the most highly anticipated in the podcast’s history, as Kevin Harvick joins Dale Earnhardt Jr. and co-host Mike Davis.
The one-hour TV version of DJD with Harvick as guest premieres Thursday at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
The episode will re-air Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, starting a NASCAR block of programs that includes Burnouts on Broadway at 6 p.m. ET and the 2021 NASCAR Awards Show at 7 p.m. ET.
Earnhardt and Harvick cover many topics, including their 2017 disagreement over Earnhardt’s comments on driver salaries and Harvick’s subsequent comments on Earnhardt’s popularity and lack of success “stunting” NASCAR’s growth.
During the Cup Series’ visit to Watkins Glen that August, Earnhardt – in the middle of his final season as a full-time driver – said younger drivers signing contracts for less guaranteed money than their veteran counterparts was good for the sport as a whole, since more money would go to teams and keep the business sustainable.
But unbeknownst to Earnhardt at the time, Harvick was in the middle of his own contract negotiation.
“For me, I was like, ‘Man, I thought he was on the drivers’ side’ – and then talking about salaries going down,” Harvick recalled. “And I’m like, ‘I’ve got to change the narrative of this conversation.'”
Following that Watkins Glen weekend, Harvick did just that on his former SiriusXM show, “Happy Hours,” where he spoke about what he felt was Earnhardt’s role in hindering NASCAR’s growth.
In hindsight, Harvick feels that was the wrong way to go about things.
“The narrative about driver salaries was gone at that particular moment because of everything that was said on (Happy Hours),” Harvick said. “And I think as you look at that, (it was) definitely not the way to handle all that, just in the way it all went down.
“I think as you look at that, taking a dig at the drivers and their salaries and everything that was said at that particular moment – that was just something that I didn’t want in the news and didn’t want that to be a topic of conversation. (I) said the things that I said and you have to live with those, right?”
As for Earnhardt, he also feels he should’ve done something different in that situation.
“Not knowing that you were in the middle of a contract negotiation – and you weren’t the only driver that came to me and said, ‘I had a problem with what you said,’ – I just want you to know, I guess, that I probably could’ve kept my mouth shut about that,” he said.
Harvick responds with a laugh: “Yeah, me too. I could’ve done the same.”
Earnhardt continues: “I go into that media center every week and they’re asking questions and you just answer them, right? And you tell your truth or whatever you feel like you believe. But that was probably a conversation that I guess I understand absolutely why you were upset about that.”
Following Harvick’s comments in 2017, Earnhardt noted they were hurtful but that he still respected Harvick.
In that same vein, Earnhardt said on DJD that he had wanted to mend the rift with Harvick at some point.
“I hope that, beyond today, we can both agree it’s regrettable and get back to being friends,” Earnhardt said.
“I agree,” Harvick responded. “Because that’s the one thing about this sport that most people don’t know, right? You have to be around people. You have people you have a lot in common with. And I think for me, I choose to almost be silent and just go away from things and just not talk about them and just not be around them.
“That’s probably, all the time, not the right way to do it. And I think for me, I say stuff that you look back on and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, why in the world would you say that?’ And I think as you get older, you start to – I’m the same way, it’s good to fix those things. Because for us, obviously, we’ve been around this for a long time, and for me, I feel the same way.”
Other topics covered on this week’s Dale Jr Download include, but are not limited to, Earnhardt and Harvick’s friendship; Harvick replacing Dale Earnhardt Sr. following his death in the 2001 Daytona 500; and Harvick’s tenure at JR Motorsports while running a part-time schedule.