Harvick: Open-wheel drivers will struggle
Defending Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick questioned whether the successful open-wheel drivers switching to NASCAR this year will be able to make a smooth transition.
"Coming straight into the Cup Series is going to be harder than any of them would have imagined," Harvick said Tuesday at a luncheon in anticipation of the 50th running of Daytona on Feb. 17.
He believes they'd be better-served by gaining experience in the Nationwide or Craftsman Truck Series before moving up to NASCAR's top level.
"I think they all went down the wrong road," Harvick said.
Former Indianapolis 500 winners Dario Franchitti, Sam Hornish Jr. and Jacques Villeneuve are making the change this year. Longtime open-wheel driver Patrick Carpentier is also switching. Another Indy 500 champion, Juan Pablo Montoya, did it last year.
There could be as many Indy 500 winners as Daytona 500 champs in the field at Daytona. Franchitti, Hornish and Montoya are guaranteed spots; Villeneuve could qualify. Only Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Harvick are guaranteed spots among the Daytona winners, with others needing to qualify.
Daytona International Speedway opens this week for practice for the 500, and the first round of qualifying is Sunday.
"It just takes time to establish that foundation," Harvick said. "A lot of people from the outside looking in say, 'Well, I race Formula One. There's no reason I shouldn't be able to race the Sprint Cup Series.' If you can get over the ego part of it, racing the Truck Series or the Nationwide Series, you'd be better off, I think." More at ESPN.com