AVONDALE, ARIZ. — After 60 wins, a championship and 17 playoff appearances, the checkered flag has fallen on Kevin Harvick’s NASCAR Cup Series career.
In his final Cup Series race, Harvick finished seventh after leading 23 of 312 laps Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.
No matter how the race went, the day was a triumph for Harvick. In the driver’s meeting, everyone, including all of his competitors, NASCAR officials and 7-time Cup Series champion Richard Petty, gave him a standing ovation.
The crowd echoed the acclaim for Kevin Harvick before he arrived at his car on the grid. As Harvick spent time with his family, a young fan stood nearby.
Once Kevin Harvick buckled in and was rolling, Keelan and Piper wished Dad well over the radio.
As the race began, Harvick moved to second and placed there in stage one (lap 60). In stage two, Harvick lit the fuse and took the lead on lap 93.
Then, a near-starstruck Ross Chastain, who eventually won, took the lead from him on lap 116.
“That was incredible to race with him [Harvick] like that, restarts, side by side with him in his last race. I actually got a little emotional in the car,” Chastain said. I was looking over and we were coming to the restart. I’m warming my tires and I’m like – Don’t feel sorry for him, go pass him, it’s a race!”
Kevin Harvick placed third in stage two, ending at lap 185. He held on to a top-10 spot for the rest of the race, averaging a running position of fourth. He also had the third-best driver rating of any driver (113.9) and finished seventh.
Afterward, son Keelan greeted Kevin at his car immediately.
Then, the elder Harvick addressed the media.
Harvick stayed brand-loyal and saluted his team with a cold one.
Teammates Ryan Preece and Chase Briscoe spent time with Harvick before owner Tony Stewart joined them.
In a show of respect, Joey Logano and Tyler Reddick all stopped by to talk to the outgoing champion.
Fellow journalist Bob Pockrass even caught an interview with the younger Harvick.
Then, it was time. One last salute. One last photo together as the No. 4 team.
With a fan nearby who was there every step of the way in Harvick’s big, final day.
Josh Berry will take over the No. 4 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2024. Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick will join the FOX NASCAR booth.
HOW DO SOME STATS SOUND?
Among the 17 retired NASCAR Cup Series champions who went out on their own terms, Kevin Harvick is one of six who earned a top-10 finish in their final race. Harvick and Rex White are also the only ones who led laps in their final race:
- Ned Jarrett – Finished 3rd – North Carolina Motor Speedway, October 1966
- Rex White – 5th – 27 of 267 laps led – Atlanta Motor Speedway, June 1964
- Jeff Gordon – 6th – Martinsville Speedway, October 2016
- Kevin Harvick – 7th – 23 of 312 laps led – Phoenix Raceway, November 2023
- David Pearson – 10th – Michigan International Speedway, August 1986
- Cale Yarborough – 10th – Atlanta Motor Speedway, November 1988
Bill Rexford, the 1950 Cup Series champion, finished fifth in July 1953 at Monroe County Fairgrounds in Rochester, N.Y. That ended up being his final Cup Series race as NASCAR later banned him for racing in a competing series.