Kevin Harvick relishes time in Kyle Larson’s car in North Wilkesboro

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Reigning Cup champion Ryan Blaney was reminded of a movie when he passed Kevin Harvick, dressed in a Hendrick Motorsports driver uniform, on pit road Friday at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

“Do you remember the movie “The Butterfly Effect?” “, Blaney said of the 2004 film in which a person goes back in time and changes the present. “It was like someone moved something during the day and Kevin Harvick ended up there.”

Harvick, the 2014 Cup champion, was in Kyle Larson’s car Friday as Larson remained in Indianapolis ahead of qualifying for the Indy 500 this weekend. Friday marked Harvick’s first time driving a Cup car since retiring from full-time competition after last season and moving to the Fox Sports broadcast booth.

Fastest speeds in nearly 30 years in practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Car owner Rick Hendrick asked Harvick to drive the No. 5 car in All-Star practice and qualifying — Harvick is not eligible to drive the car in Saturday’s playoff races because he is not a full-time driver. Larson will not return for his qualifying race, meaning he will start last in the 20-car All-Star Race on Sunday night.

Harvick ran 90 laps in Larson’s car during Friday practice. Harvick ranked 25th on the speed chart, but crew chief Cliff Daniels repeatedly praised Harvick for his lap times when running optional tires designed to wear more as they ride for a long time.

Driving the No. 5 car also gave Harvick the chance to work with the Hendrick Motorsports team and go behind the scenes of the sport’s most successful organization.

So what struck him most about working with this organization?

“I heard from the owner twice in two weeks,” Harvick said with a laugh. “So it’s different.

“It’s interesting to see the organization and structure of the race and how everyone goes about it differently. There’s a million different ways to do things, but I think what strikes me about Hendrick Motorsports in general is that it’s really run like a business that’s part of an actual structure the way how things happen and who you talk to. There’s just depth on the business side and the racing side. It’s deep. I think it’s quite revealing just about the structure of the whole thing. I like structures. It’s something that’s nice to see.

NBC Sports analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte are also looking ahead to the second half of the regular season.

When asked if that made his Cup wins more meaningful given the type of organization Hendrick is, Harvick responded:

“Our team, team (No.) 4 itself was very structured. We had a great group of people who communicated well and did a lot of little things well, but also took on the burden of some things that probably weren’t as structured within the organization. Being able to do those things and still run well was a burden, wasn’t it, for all the guys on the team.

“I had a very special group of people who were successful in a structure that wasn’t as structured in the situation we’re in (at Hendrick). I’ve had a lot of success at Stewart-Haas Racing and everything we’ve done, I’m very proud and I love the relationships we have, but it’s just different cultures, very different.

Harvick also noted how Hendrick Motorsports allows Larson to compete in events outside of NASCAR.

“Kyle is very good at everything he races, but Cliff is also very understanding of him racing other races and the way they talk about things and experience things with Kyle is very interesting” , Harvick said. “…It seems like they decided to let Kyle be Kyle and that’s not always the case for all Cup Series drivers.”

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