Kevin Harvick has a lot riding on the Ford EcoBoost 400, the last event of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, this Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. As the defending Sprint Cup champion, who came in second place at last Sunday’s Phoenix International Raceway, Harvick will be racing against Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. during the 3 p.m. race that will last 267 laps (400.5 miles) to keep his title.
Some are saying Harvick looks like the one to beat this weekend, especially since he already has a Sprint Cup win, he has great chemistry with his crew, and he has an ability to overcome obstacles such as steering with one hand at 180 mph while holding his shifter in place with the other hand at the Texas race.
He’ll need all the support and luck he can get, and his wife DeLana Harvick and son Keelan will certainly be cheering him on. DeLana, infamously known as “wearing the firesuit in the family,” is also the daughter of a NASCAR driver and now the couple is raising their son to love racing as well.
Here’s what you need to know about DeLana and her relationship with Kevin:
1. Her Father Was a NASCAR Driver & She Was Almost Born at The Race Track
John Paul Linville, Harvick’s father was a NASCAR driver in the 80s, for the Busch Series. She says she was practically born on the race track, literally. She told the story to the University of North Carolina Greensboro alumni magazine, where she attended school.
“There was a feature race my dad was running, my mom went into labor, and he asked her if she could wait a few minutes. She said ‘I can’t. I’m going to go on to the hospital.’ He said, ‘I’ll meet you there.’ He won the feature, got to the hospital and I was born, and the next night he was racing again.”
She was always at the track, her first time being at just three weeks old, watching her father. During college, when her father developed cancer and she transferred from North Carolina State to the University of North Carolina Greensboro to be closer to him, they struck a deal that if she graduated, he would buy her a race car.
2. She Also Had a Career in Racing as a Public Relations Representative
Turns out her career as a racer wasn’t going to last, although she did compete in a few races, but her extensive knowledge of the sport landed her some public relations jobs in the racing world and eventually led to meeting her husband.
“It just wasn’t in the cards for me — timing just wasn’t right,” says Harvick who also admits she didn’t have the years of experience other racers had.
She at first did public relations work for Jeff Gordon and then Randy LaJoie before working for her husband and founding Kevin Harvick Inc. in 2002. She explained some of the struggles that both the racer and the marketing team face.
“If you’re not competitive, your program’s not going to be successful on the race track. But it also means being competitive with your marketing group as well, because we are out fighting for sponsorship dollars to fund these teams.”
3. DeLana Tries to Ignore Rumors & Focus on Her Family Instead
Harvick said in an interview with The Fast and The Fabulous that she tries to ignore rumors or comments people make about her relationship because it isn’t worth it to react. She did add, however, that some rumors in the past have been true and some have not, although she did not give any specifics.
“Honestly, from the beginning, because of the way Kevin was thrust into the limelight, I was also kind of pushed into the public forum, where I had always been behind the scenes, I was doing PR and I wasn’t necessarily used to that sort of open criticism. I just married my best friend. I just want to be with Kevin. I really wasn’t signing up for all this. But as the years have gone by I realized that people are going to say what they want, and honestly, I’ve never been one to let that dictate how I live my life.”
She says they both have a wit and sarcastic way about them which she thinks actually balances each other out. “I think we know how to be each other’s biggest critic and biggest cheerleader, and I think that’s certainly evolved over the last ten years. ”
Their son also seems to be already on his way to getting involved with racing. The couple frequently posts videos of Keelan playing with cars, talking about racing, and even driving his own mini race car in the driveway. At the age of three it’s obviously hard to tell if he will take on his parent’s passion for racing, but he also loves baseball, football and golf, according to Instagram.
4. When They First Met She Thought Harvick Was a Jerk
Although some sources report the couple met in 2000 at a Michigan International Speedway NASCAR race, DeLana said in an interview their first real “date” was at at Christmas party.
DeLana actually set one of her friends up with Kevin at first. She agreed to go with her friend, who was a crew chief for Richard Childress Racing, to a Christmas party and she asked if he knew anyone her friend could go with. He set DeLana’s friend up with “the new kid,” who was Kevin. She explains she was late to the party and Kevin shot a smart comment and she fired back at him, and that’s where it began, she explains in a 2011 interview.
She added that her first impression of him was, “I thought he was a jerk…but I quickly learned that Kevin has a very quick, sarcastic wit, which I do to.”
Shortly after on February 21, 2001, the couple got married in Las Vegas, Nevada.
5. They Founded the Kevin Harvick Foundation
The Kevin Harvick Foundation was founded in 2010 to “help underprivileged youths find and realize their dreams,” according to the website.
The foundation offers scholarships and hosts an annual golf outing in honor of DeLana’s father. DeLana also created a shirt that says, “I Wear the Firesuit in This Family,” which can be purchased on the website. The idea for the shirt first came about after Harvick got into a crash with Joey Logano and Logano made an irrelevant comment about DeLana being the boss of the family and the cause of the crash.
Kevin’s statement on the website says he and his wife want to provide children with opportunities they may not have otherwise.
There are many children who have dreams of becoming a race car driver, a policeman, a doctor or scientist, but don’t see a way to achieve those dreams. DeLana and I want to provide opportunities to children who might not realize their potential and give them the courage to pursue their dreams.