On His 48th Birthday, Here Are Kevin “The Closer” Harvick’s Most Iconic Wins of His Legendary Career
NASCAR has produced legends of two accords over the last 75 years. The first is those whose careers can be summed up by the number of championships they have. The second is those who created a deeper impact through their iconic race victories and performances over seasons. Though Kevin Harvick won only 1 championship, his dominance and impact can be seen only by taking a look at some of his most impactful victory lane visits over the 23 years that he spent at the top.
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Over 825 starts in the Cup Series, Harvick has 60 wins that include all the crown-jewel events. Now that it’s been over a month since he officially hung up his racing suit, let’s take a look at the most iconic wins that defined his career.
The 2001 Atlanta and 2014 Homestead-Miami wins cap Harvick’s accomplishments
Though it has been 23 years since Kevin Harvick first stepped into the car of Richard Childress Racing in Atlanta back in 2001, that day will forever etched in the memories of racing fans. NASCAR was still reeling from the on-track death of Dale Earnhardt when it was announced that a youngster, who was essentially a nobody, would take the wheel after him. The race that year at Atlanta was just Harvick’s 3rd career start. At the end of the day, he healed the hurting hearts of millions as he beat Jeff Gordon to the finish line by 0.006 seconds. Harvick’s win in that Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 will go down in history as one of the finest moments in racing.
A uniform second across most of the tables that discuss Harvick’s legacy is the 2014 season finale race at the Homestead-Miami track. The year was the biggest transition in Kevin Harvick’s year considering that he’d just moved to Stewart-Haas Racing after a long period with Richard Childress. It was also the first season to implement NASCAR’s new playoff style that included a Championship 4. But Harvick little showed difficulty despite these changes and won his way to the finale at Miami. The final race culminated in a 3-lap battle with Ryan Newman that Harvick ended up winning. He never set a move wrong and took home one of his biggest career moments.
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The crown jewel race wins that elevate Kevin Harvick’s status as a legend
Kevin Harvick’s first crown jewel victory came in 2003 when he stamped his name on the Brickyard 400 winners list. Still a young driver at the time, he drove Richard Childress Racing’s No. 29 car to its 10th win in the celebrated fixture. A late restart enabled him to get past the icon Matt Kenseth, which he made use of and sped his way to the victory lane. Over the next two decades, he would go on to win two more Brickyard 400s, in 2019 and 2020.
Another crown jewel victory that falls with his 2014 Miami win is the Coca-Cola 600 of 2011. Unfortunately, his win wasn’t celebrated uniformly by the fandom, for he’d beaten Dale Earnhardt Jr in the process. The popular driver was set to take the win after an overtime restart but his car ran out of gas at the worst of time. Using the chance, Harvick ran past him and took the win without worry. The race happened to be a shot for Junior to end his 3-year winless drought, but Harvick had other plans.
The Daytona 500 of 2007 is perhaps, Harvick’s best-ever crown jewel win. Winning a Daytona 500 is one of the most prestigious accomplishments as a driver and the way that Harvick did that made for an unparalleled moment in NASCAR’s history. Running behind the leader, Martin Martin, the Richard Childress racer wasn’t poised for the win. But he would get his chance when a squeeze on him from Kyle Busch forced Martin out of the way to avoid a crash. Harvick would then use his momentum to get alongside the leader and drag race him to the finish line with the rest of the pack crashing behind the duo. The 0.020 second narrow win would be Harvick’s only Daytona 500 win.
A career that started in the most abrupt and unfortunate of ways because of the death of a racing legend turned into a fairy tale that never let Dale Earnhardt’s name down. 23 years after he took the place of Dale Earnhardt, Kevin Harvick has retired a legend of his own making.