Mears believes the similarities between the two drivers is simple.
“To me, it was common sense, and I don’t like pain,” Mears said. “You don’t take the risk until it’s time. You do what’s necessary when it’s necessary. But when do you and when do you not? It’s amazing how many guys don’t understand that. I only needed to lead one lap – and I didn’t even need to lead all of it. There’s only one way to win and that’s to finish.
“I’ve watched (Kevin) over the years and he runs smart. That’s what I always called running smart. Plus, you don’t want to show your hand all the time. You keep a little in reserve until after the last stop so no one can make any changes and you say, ‘OK guys, he’s what we’ve got.’ If they think they’ve got you covered, they won’t take as many risks on that last stop.”
Other than competing in the old International Race of Champions series, Mears’ stock car career was limited to a couple of races in USAC stock cars.
“I loved the stock cars, they were a lot of fun,” Mears recalled. “But there was only one way I was going to do it and that was to get totally out of IndyCar and get in with both feet and get with the right people and the right equipment. I would have really had to work at it, but there were some opportunities. I loved driving them, but I did like the Indy car better.”
By contrast, Harvick has never driven an Indy car. Mears believes he would be quite good in the open-wheel series, however.
“He would have done very well,” Mears said. “He’s a racer. He would do very well because he’s a racer. He’s got a very good feel. The big thing for me, the difference between the stock cars and the Indy cars, is that the cars talk to you. You get in a different car and you take it out and you listen to it and do what it wants.
“The way I always explain it is, the stock cars yell at you, the Indy car whispers to you,” Mears added. “It would just take time and laps in an Indy car, but he could do that because he’s a driver. He wouldn’t have any trouble. It’s just getting the laps and the experience.”
As motorsports enters a new era, both sides have come together at the same racing venue for the greater good of the sport.
“We had Tony Kanaan on my radio show talking about this particular weekend, and IndyCar and NASCAR running together,” Harvick said. “We’re all racers. We want racing to be successful. I know it’s had that stigma for a number of years there’s the IndyCar guys and there’s the NASCAR guys. One thing I have learned over the winter doing iRacing, racers are racers.
“If you race on a computer, in IndyCar, everybody wants to see a good race and be part of a cool event. I think it’s going to be a cool event. With Roger Penske owning the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you’re going to see different things.
“I think this is the first step of many that will bring exciting shows to the race track.”