One reason not to hate Cup drivers in the lower series

When Kevin Harvick announced he was running the K&N West Series race at Sonoma, I thought it was pretty lame.

Seriously though — what was the point? It’s not like he needed road course laps under his belt like Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez or Ryan Blaney (who were also in the race). And it would have been an upset if Harvick didn’t win. So why take away from young, up-and-coming drivers’ opportunity to showcase their talent?

As it turned out, Harvick didn’t take away from them at all — it actually put a much bigger spotlight on one of the K&N drivers.

Harvick should be applauded for how he’s used his victory to essentially raise the profile of 22-year-old Will Rodgers, who was Harvick’s K&N teammate and finished second in the race.

A Maui-born driver who moved to California as a kid, Rodgers won the pole and led the first 26 laps before finishing second. He is fourth in K&N West points after Saturday’s race.

But let’s say Rodgers had won and Harvick wasn’t in the race. He wouldn’t be making an appearance on Harvick’s Sirius/XM Radio show tonight, wouldn’t have gotten to sit on the No. 4 team’s pit box on Sunday and wouldn’t have made relationships like this:


So even though Rodgers was denied his first career win, the publicity and connections gained through racing with Harvick might have been a victory in itself. After the race, Harvick business manager Josh Jones even offered to point Rodgers in the right direction with sponsorship.

Rodgers came to the Sonoma tweetup on Sunday morning and said despite finishing second, he was honestly feeling pretty good about how everything unfolded. After all, if that outcome ended up being his big break, it’ll be the biggest non-win he’ll ever get.