By Dominic Aragon and Jonathan Fjeld
AVONDALE, Ariz. — With the checkered flag Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, Kevin Harvick is now a former NASCAR competitor.
Harvick finished seventh and wrapped up a 23-year career in the NASCAR Cup Series.
The 2014 Cup Series champion finished with 60 victories, including the 2007 Daytona 500, and 783 consecutive starts, dating back to 2002.
“It’s been an emotional roller coaster, for sure,” Harvick said post-race. “I think, as you look at this last week, this really means a lot to me. Just, because, I love driving the race car but I love being around the people more.”
“I love our sport. It’s given our family so much through the years to be thankful for and proud of,” he added.
A Bakersfield, Cali. native, Kevin Harvick was born in 1975. He then started go-kart racing in his youth and later excelled in high school wrestling.
Driving for his family team, during the inaugural Truck Series season in 1995, Harvick made his first NASCAR national series start. At Mesa Marin Speedway in his hometown, he started and finished 27th of 36 trucks.
Harvick made select starts for his family team before getting an opportunity with Wayne Spears midway through 1997. He raced for Spears before running every Truck race in 1999 for Jim Kerrick.
Despite not winning, Harvick got the attention of Cup Series and Xfinity Series team owner Richard Childress. For Childress, Harvick raced his first Xfinity (then-Busch) Series season in 2000.
Earning three wins and placing third in points, Harvick raced Xfinity full-time again in 2001. He also got his first opportunity in the Cup Series – unexpectedly.
UNTIMELY NEW BEGINNINGS
The untimely death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 prompted Harvick to the Cup Series sooner than expected.
With a renumbered No. 29 Chevrolet, Harvick finished out the rest of the 2001 season with Earnhardt’s team.
In his third Cup Series race, Kevin Harvick edged out Jeff Gordon at Atlanta Motor Speedway in a similar fashion as Earnhardt over Bobby Labonte the year before.
Harvick continued to race for RCR, staying with the team for the next 12 seasons.
Despite not winning a Cup Series title, Harvick delivered the 2001 and 2006 Xfinity Series championships to RCR. That was at a time when drivers could run as many races as they preferred in any of the national touring series and collect points in any series.
Harvick garnered 23 wins – including the 2007 Daytona 500 – as well as multiple appearances.
Change of scenery
Kevin Harvick raced a “lame duck” season in 2013 for RCR. Harvick announced early in the year he would depart for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
Paired with crew chief Rodney Childers, Harvick raced the rebranded No. 4 for SHR. In their second race together, Harvick clicked off a victory at Phoenix – and the wins kept coming.
Harvick won four more times en route to his first NASCAR Cup Series championship. The title came in the first season of the current 16-driver playoff format.
Harvick won 37 races with Stewart-Haas Racing. He also qualified for the playoffs in every season with them, including five Championship Four appearances.
The 2014 champion’s final victory came at Richmond Raceway in August 2022.
Harvick retired 10th on the NASCAR Cup Series all-time wins list with 60 wins. He was also one of 36 drivers, to date, who have hoisted the Cup trophy.
Harvick will be forever cemented in NASCAR history as the driver whom Richard Childress called upon during one of the darkest eras in NASCAR history.
It is likely Harvick could be a first-ballot NASCAR Hall-of-Famer when he becomes eligible in 2026.
In the meantime, Harvick will move to the FOX NASCAR broadcast booth, starting in 2024. Harvick also anticipates spending more time at the track supporting the racing career his son, Keelan, is blossoming into.