With 23 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories, including wins in such crown-jewel events as the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400, Kevin Harvick has proven to be an elite driver in NASCAR’s elite series. In addition to his impressive performance on the Sprint Cup side, Harvick also has two NASCAR Nationwide Series championships, 40 Nationwide Series wins and 14 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins.
But after spending his entire Sprint Cup career with Richard Childress Racing – a span of 466 starts beginning in 2001 that resulted in 100 top-five finishes and three top-three results in the championship point standings – Harvick moved to Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2014 to drive the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS.
While Harvick’s surroundings have changed, his laser-like focus has not. He still wants victories, but a Sprint Cup championship is what he covets most. His move to SHR, which won the Sprint Cup title in 2011 with driver/owner Tony Stewart, was made in pursuit of a championship.
The determination Harvick displays today was set into motion when he was 5 years old, thanks to a go-kart he received from his parents for his kindergarten graduation. The now 13-year Sprint Cup veteran from Bakersfield, Calif., hasn’t slowed down since, as Harvick has built an impressive record that includes more than 75 wins across NASCAR’s top-three series – Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck.
After gaining experience behind the wheel of his go-kart, Harvick began racing at local tracks at age 7. For 10 years, he was a force on the karting circuit, earning seven national championships and two Grand National championships.
With an impressive resume of wins in the karting ranks, Harvick made the move to full-bodied stock cars. He competed at local racetracks in the Late Model division starting with the 1992 season. In 1993, he won the Late Model track championship at his hometown track – Mesa Marin Speedway in Bakersfield.
When not racing, he competed on the wrestling team at Bakersfield’s North High School. After high school graduation, Harvick decided to follow his dreams and pursue a professional racing career.
He advanced to the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour full-time in 1995, earning Rookie of the Year honors and finishing 11th in points. Harvick also made his first career Camping World Truck Series start in 1995. On Oct. 15 at Mesa Marin, he started and finished 27th in his family-owned No. 72 truck.
Harvick drove four more Camping World Truck Series races for his family-owned team in 1996. In 1997, he took over the wheel of the No. 75 Spears Motorsports entry in the Camping World Truck Series for the second half of the season, scoring two top-10 finishes.
In 1998, Harvick kept a busy racing schedule as he drove the Spears truck full-time in the Camping World Truck Series while also competing full-time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Harvick’s commitment to his racing career paid off as he won five races en route to the K&N Pro Series West championship.
Harvick moved to Jim Herrick Racing in 1999 and drove the No. 98 truck to 11 top-10 finishes and a 12th-place point standing in the Camping World Truck Series.
Harvick’s hard-charging style and success behind the wheel caught the eye of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress. Harvick was selected as the driver of Richard Childress Racing’s No. 2 Chevrolet in the Nationwide Series for the 2000 season.
In his first full season, Harvick scored three wins and finished third in the championship standings while claiming Rookie of the Year honors. Along the way, he gained a reputation for being aggressive on the track, but off track his affable attitude and ever-present smile earned him the nickname “Happy.”
Harvick was to compete full-time in the Nationwide Series in 2001 while making select Sprint Cup starts, driving Childress’ No. 30 Chevrolet. But his career path was forever altered when Hall of Fame driver Dale Earnhardt lost his life in an accident on the final lap of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, 2001.
Following the tragedy, Childress appointed Harvick to assume driving duties for the famed GM Goodwrench Chevrolet – renumbered from No. 3 to No. 29 – on a full-time basis beginning with the series’ second race at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham while simultaneously competing for the Nationwide Series championship.
Harvick quickly proved he was up to the daunting task of following a legend when, in his third Sprint Cup start, he scored his first win on March 11 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. As the season continued, so did Harvick’s winning ways as he claimed the checkered flag in the inaugural race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. He earned Rookie of the Year honors en route to a ninth-place finish in the season-ending Sprint Cup point standings.
In addition to his success at the Sprint Cup level, Harvick scored five wins in the Nationwide Series that season as he claimed his first Nationwide Series championship.
Harvick set records in 2001 as he became the first driver in NASCAR history to compete full-time in the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series. He also became the first driver to earn the Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year title while also claiming the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship.
Harvick’s strong performance during his rookie season in Sprint Cup earned him a spot competing against all-star drivers from a variety of racing disciplines in the International Race of Champions (IROC), and the young driver did not disappoint. He scored a victory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and tallied four top-10 finishes in the four-race series, which led him to the 2002 IROC title.
Harvick’s second season in Sprint Cup also produced his first Sprint Cup pole at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in July 2002 and a second consecutive victory at Chicagoland Speedway.
While hitting his stride in the Sprint Cup Series, Harvick started another venture. He fielded his own team in five Camping World Truck Series races in 2002. Harvick’s team posted four top-10 finishes in five races and scored a victory in November at Phoenix International Raceway. It was Harvick’s first Truck Series win and his first win in his equipment – signaling the beginning of Kevin Harvick, Inc. (KHI).
In 2003, Harvick became the first driver to win the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from the pole position. Harvick posted 11 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes and finished the season fifth in points. Harvick also scored three Nationwide Series victories and one Camping World Truck Series win.
While Harvick was winless on the Sprint Cup circuit in 2004, he went to victory lane twice in the Nationwide Series. In 2005, Harvick earned one Sprint Cup win and four Nationwide Series wins.
Harvick enjoyed a breakout year in 2006. He won five races and scored 20 top-10 finishes en route to finishing fourth in the Sprint Cup championship. That same season, Harvick was on fire in the Nationwide Series, in which he competed full-time and earned his second title with nine victories, 23 top-five and 32 top-10 finishes.
He continued his winning ways in 2007 by edging veteran driver Mark Martin by .020 of a second to win the season-opening Daytona 500. Later that year, he scored another huge victory as he won the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and took home the $1 million prize. He finished the season 10th in points.
Harvick also racked up six Nationwide Series victories in 2007. But Harvick the owner enjoyed the most success in 2007 as KHI earned its first Camping World Truck Series championship with driver Ron Hornaday Jr.
While Harvick didn’t reach victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series in 2008, he produced strong enough performances to once again make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup before finishing fourth in the season-ending standings. He also earned one win in the Truck Series at Phoenix.
Harvick started the 2009 season with a win in the non-points Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, but he didn’t get back to victory lane the rest of the year. He finished the season with nine top-10 finishes. While Harvick the driver didn’t have the best season on track, Harvick scored his second Truck Series championship with Hornaday.
The 2010 season began just like 2009 – with a Harvick victory in the Budweiser Shootout. But that was the only similarity between the two campaigns. Harvick led the 2010 Sprint Cup standings for 20 weeks and battled for the series championship right through the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He finished third in the standings with three victories, 16 top-five finishes and 26 top-10s.
Harvick finished third in points for the second consecutive season in 2011 by scoring four wins, nine top-fives and 19 top-10s. He also celebrated KHI’s third Camping World Truck Series owners’ championship. It signaled the end of an era, however, as KHI ceased operations following the 2011 season.
While Harvick’s 2012 season saw him score just a single victory, the year was perhaps his most memorable. Harvick and his wife, DeLana, welcomed their first child – Keelan Paul Harvick.
Harvick’s focus was undeterred in 2013 despite announcing he and Childress would part ways at the end of the season. He established himself as a contender for the championship. He amassed four victories, including one from the pole at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, scored nine top-fives and 21 top-10s, and finished third in points.
Harvick will start his 14th Sprint Cup season in a new home with SHR co-owners Stewart and Gene Haas, and with a new crew chief in veteran Rodney Childers. But among all the newness remains a steadfast pursuit of excellence.
When he’s not behind the wheel, Harvick enjoys spending time with his wife and son, their pets, family and friends. In his spare time, he can be found golfing and hunting.
Harvick is also passionate about his philanthropic activities, which include working with his charity, the Kevin Harvick Foundation (KHF). He and DeLana started KHF in 2010 to support programs that positively enrich the lives of children throughout the United States.
Harvick resides in Oak Ridge, N.C., with DeLana, Keelan and their cats and dogs.