Kevin Harvick: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Popularity ‘Stunting’ NASCAR’s Growth

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Although NASCAR remains one of the most-watched sports in the United States, its viewership and attendance numbers have dropped off a bit. And Kevin Harvick thinks the sport’s most popular driver could be part of the reason why that’s happening.

Harvick revealed on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show, “Happy Hours,” that he thinks Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s popularity, in spite of his lack of on-track success, is “stunting the growth of NASCAR,” according to Autoweek. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver said he expected ticket and souvenir sales to spike during the JR Nation Appreci88ion Tour, though that hasn’t happened.

“For me, I believe Dale Jr. has had a big part in stunting the growth of NASCAR because he’s got these legions of fans, this huge outreach of being able to reach these places none of us have the possibility to reach,” Harvick said. “But he’s won nine races in 10 years at Hendrick Motorsports and hasn’t been able to reach outside of that. I know those aren’t the most popular comments, but those are real life facts that you look up and see on the stat sheet.”

The 41-year-old Harvick claims it’s “a little bit confusing” that Jimmie Johnson, who clinched his record-tying seventh Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2016, isn’t the most popular driver. He noted that Johnson often finishes race weekends with the third, fourth and sometimes fifth highest merchandise sales.

Thumbnail photo via Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports Images

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