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

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Reigning Cup champion Ryan Blaney flashed back to a movie when he walked by Kevin Harvick, dressed in a Hendrick Motorsports drivers uniform, on pit road Friday at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

“Remember the movie ‘The Butterfly Effect?’” Blaney said of the 2004 film where a person goes back in time and changes the present. “It was like someone moved something back in 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 the first time Harvick had driven 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 heat races because he’s not a full-time driver. Larson will not return for his heat race, meaning he’ll start last in the 20-car All-Star Race on Sunday night.

Harvick ran 90 laps in Larson’s car during practice Friday. Harvick ranked 25th on the speed chart, but crew chief Cliff Daniels repeatedly praised Harvick for his lap times when he ran on the option tires that are designed to wear more the longer they are run.

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

So what struck him most about working with that organization?

“I heard from the owner twice in two weeks,” Harvick said laughing. “So that’s different.

“It’s interesting to see just the race shop and structure and the way that everybody goes about it differently. There’s a million different ways you can do things, but I think the thing that sticks out to me about Hendrick Motorsports in general is it’s truly run like a business that is a part of an actual structure of how things flow and who you talk to. There’s just a depth of the business side and racing side. It’s deep. I think that is pretty eye-opening just from the structure for the whole thing. I like structure. That’s something that has been good to see.”

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

Asked if it made his Cup wins any more meaningful considering the type of organization Hendrick is, Harvick said:

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

“I had a very special group of people that succeeded in a structure that wasn’t as structured in what we’re in in this situation (at Hendrick). I had a lot of success at Stewart-Haas Racing and all the things we did I’m super proud of and love the relationships that we have, but it’s just different, vastly different cultures.”

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

“Kyle is very good at whatever he races, but Cliff is also very understanding the fact that he’s off racing other things and how they talk about things and when they go through things with Kyle is very interesting,” Harvick said. “ … It seems like they’ve leaned into letting Kyle be Kyle and that’s not always the case with everybody that drivers in the Cup Series.”