Kevin Harvick’s racing career started simply enough with a gift he received from his parents for his kindergarten graduation – a go-kart. Ever since, the California-native has been building an impressive resume that includes 72 wins in NASCAR’s top-three divisions.
Harvick raced go-karts for 10 years, earning seven national championships and two grand national championships along the way. He then moved up to full-bodied stock cars, competing at local race tracks in the Late Model Series before racing in the Featherlite Southwest Series, one of NASCAR’s regional touring divisions. Harvick ran a limited schedule at that level while he completed high school. He raced full time in 1995 and scored rookie-of-the-year honors.
As he found success in racing, Harvick decided to forego studying architecture in college and progressed to the Winston West Series. In 1998 Harvick’s commitment to racing paid off as he won five races en route to taking home the Winston West Series championship. Harvick also competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where his hard-charging style caught the eye of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner Richard Childress who signed him to a ride in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
In 2000, his first full season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Harvick scored three wins and finished third in the driver point standings on his way to claiming the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year Award. Along the way he gained a reputation for being aggressive on track, but off the track his affable attitude and ever-present smile earned him the nickname “Happy.”
2001 was one of the most memorable years of Harvick’s life, both personally and professionally. Harvick scored his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Atlanta Motor Speedway. As the season continued, he earned a second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win during the inaugural race at Chicagoland Speedway. He also took home Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year honors and finished ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings. Harvick set records in 2001 as he became the first driver in NASCAR history to compete full time in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He was also the first driver to earn NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year honors while also scoring the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship.
Harvick’s on-track success continued and he added a number of achievements to his racing resume. In 2002 he claimed the International Race of Champions (IROC) championship. He kissed the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after becoming the first driver to win the Brickyard 400 from the pole position in 2003. The 2006 season proved to be a breakout year for Harvick as he raced his way to Victory Lane five times and finished fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings. The following year Harvick started the season off by winning the Daytona 500, a moment he considers to be his favorite racing memory. Later that same year he won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and took home the $1 million prize.
After winning the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway, Harvick endured a tumultuous season in 2009, earning just five top fives and nine top-10 finishes. The No. 29 Chevrolet team rebounded in 2010 and Harvick won the Budweiser Shootout for the second year in a row and continued that success throughout the season. He won three races, earned 16 top fives and 26 top-10 finishes. Harvick also led the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings for 20 weeks and battled for the series championship through the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He finished third in the standings, just 41 points behind the leader.
In 2011, Harvick and the No. 29 team backed up their strong performance from the previous season by scoring four wins, nine top fives and 19 top-10 finishes. For the second year in a row Harvick finished third in the standings. Harvick added another NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory to his resume in November 2012 at Phoenix International Raceway. With a season total of one win, five top fives and 14 top-10 finishes, he earned an eighth-place ranking in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point standings. The effort marked Harvick’s third consecutive top-10 finish in the championship standings.
In 2013, it was announced that Harvick would drive for Stewart-Haas Racing beginning in 2014 once his contract expires with RCR.
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