Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2014, Kevin Harvick has established himself as the fastest, most dominant and consistent driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. A championship in 2014 followed by a runner-up finish in the 2015 standings coupled with 12 wins, 11 poles and an astounding 5,815 laps led cement this assertion. Yet Harvick’s fourth year with SHR and his 17th in the NASCAR Cup Series marks a new era for both driver and team.
On Feb. 24, 2016, SHR announced it had reached an agreement with Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Company as its new manufacturer and would field Ford Fusions beginning in 2017.
The new partnership allows Harvick to reunite with just the second manufacturer of his NASCAR career. The Bakersfield, California native’s previous experience behind the wheel of a Ford dates back to a full-season drive during the 1999 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season when he piloted the No. 98 Ford F-150 for Jim Herrick.
While the team and driver are starting fresh with new Ford Fusions powered by Roush-Yates Engines, history says Harvick and the No. 4 team will remain at the front of the field.
Harvick won the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series championship in convincing fashion in his first year with SHR. It began with a dominating preseason test at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and ended with an emphatic victory in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He defended his 2014 title down to the last race of the 2015 season at Homestead, where he finished as the series runner-up by one point to championship-winner Kyle Busch.
In 2014, Harvick won five races, tying his season-best effort. He won a career-high eight poles – two more than in his 13 previous seasons combined. He led 2,137 laps, becoming only the third driver to lead more than 2,000 laps in a single season since 2000. The most laps Harvick led in a single NASCAR Cup Series season prior to 2014 was 895 laps in 2006. Of the 24 NASCAR Cup Series track qualifying records set in 2014, Harvick accounted for six of them. No other driver had more than four. Lastly, the title allowed Harvick to become only the third driver to earn both a NASCAR Cup Series championship and a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, joining Bobby Labonte and Brad Keselowski. Harvick is a two-time Xfinity Series champion, having scored those titles in 2001 and 2006.
Harvick picked up in 2015 where he left off in 2014. He won three races, including back-to-back events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway in March, and established new single-season career bests with 23 top-five finishes, including 16 top-twos, and 28 top-10s through the 36-race season. Harvick also led 2,294 laps to eclipse the 2,000 laps-led mark for a second consecutive season, becoming the first driver to lead more than 2,000 laps in back-to-back seasons since Jeff Gordon in 1995 and 1996.
Harvick closed out the 2015 regular season with 978 points prior to the Chase for the NASCAR Cup standings reset, which followed the 26th and final regular-season race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Harvick’s total through the first 26 races was the most under the current points system introduced in 2011, surpassing the 914 regular-season points scored by Greg Biffle in 2012 and Gordon in 2014.
In addition to his on-track success in 2015, Harvick also had a career year off the track. He was honored as the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion by President Barack Obama on the South Lawn of the White House on April 22, won an ESPY for “Best Driver”, appeared on the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, and was honored in his hometown of Bakersfield when mayor Harvey Hall proclaimed March 18, 2015 “Kevin Harvick Day”.
Harvick rode that momentum into 2016, scoring four wins – Phoenix in March, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon in September and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City in October. He scored two poles – at Charlotte in October and Homestead in November – and logged a series-best 17 top-fives, 27 top-10s, an average finish of 9.9 and a driver rating of 106.5. He is the only driver to have an average finish below 10.0 in both the 2015 and 2016 NASCAR Cup Series seasons. He led 1,384 laps – the second-most laps of all drivers in 2016 – and he is the only driver to lead more than 1,000 laps in each season since 2014.
In three seasons at SHR with a team led by veteran crew chief Rodney Childers, Harvick has won 12 races, 11 poles and finished first, second and eighth in the championship standings. And his tally of 5,815 laps led is more than the 4,426 laps led in his 13 previous seasons combined. In his 108 NASCAR Cup Series races since joining SHR, Harvick has scored 35 top-twos, 54 top-fives and 75 top-10s.
After finishing among the top-five in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings six times prior to 2014 (his previous career-high points finish was third, which he accomplished in 2010, 2011 and 2013), Harvick is now a NASCAR Cup Series champion who has compiled the two best seasons of his career (2014 and 2015) while at SHR.
Harvick has 35 career NASCAR Cup Series victories, including wins in such crown-jewel events as the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Long before joining SHR, Harvick had proven to be an elite NASCAR Cup Series driver.
In addition to his impressive performance in NASCAR’s premier series and his two Xfinity Series championships and 46 Xfinity Series wins, Harvick has 14 Truck Series victories.
Harvick’s drive to win was set into motion at age 5 thanks to a go-kart he received from his parents for his kindergarten graduation. After gaining experience in 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 in 1992. He competed at local racetracks in the Late Model division and, in 1993, won the Late Model track championship at his hometown track, Mesa Marin Speedway in Bakersfield.
When not wrestling a stock car, Harvick competed on the wrestling team at Bakersfield’s North High School. Upon graduation, Harvick followed his dreams and pursued 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 Truck Series start Oct. 15, 1995 at Mesa Marin, where he started and finished 27th in his family-owned No. 72 truck.
Harvick drove four more Truck Series races for his family-owned team in 1996 but, in 1997, he took over the wheel of the No. 75 Spears Motorsports entry in the 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 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 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 finish in the Truck Series standings.
Harvick’s hard-charging style and success behind the wheel caught the eye of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, who selected Harvick to drive the team’s No. 2 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series for the 2000 season.
In his first full season with Richard Childress Racing, Harvick scored three wins and finished third in the championship 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 Xfinity Series in 2001 while making select NASCAR Cup Series starts driving Childress’ No. 30 Chevrolet. But his career path was forever altered on Feb. 18, 2001when Hall of Fame driver Dale Earnhardt lost his life in an accident on the final lap of the Daytona 500.
Days following the tragedy, Childress appointed Harvick to drive in place of Earnhardt, renumbering the famous No. 3 entry to No. 29 in time for the second race of the season at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. This new role was in addition to Harvick’s duties in the Xfinity Series, where he was competing for the championship.
Harvick quickly proved he was up to the daunting task of following a legend when, in his third NASCAR Cup Series start, he scored his first win 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, Illinois. He earned Rookie of the Year honors en route to a ninth-place finish in the season-ending championship.
In addition to his success in the NASCAR Cup Series, Harvick scored five wins in the Xfinity Series to claim his first Xfinity Series championship. He became the first driver in NASCAR history to compete full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series. He also became the first driver to earn the NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year title while also claiming the Xfinity Series championship.
Harvick’s strong performance during his rookie season in the NASCAR Cup Series earned him a spot competing against all-star drivers from a variety of racing disciplines in the 2002 International Race of Champions (IROC), and the young driver did not disappoint. He scored a victory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California and tallied four top-10 finishes, which led him to the championship in the prestigious four-race series.
Harvick’s second season in the NASCAR Cup Series produced his first career pole in July 2002 at Daytona and a second consecutive victory at Chicagoland Speedway.
While hitting his stride in the NASCAR Cup Series, Harvick started another venture. He fielded his own team in five Truck Series races in 2002. Harvick’s team posted four top-10 finishes in five races and scored a victory in November at Phoenix. It was Harvick’s first Truck Series win and his first in his own equipment, signaling the beginning of Kevin Harvick, Inc. (KHI).
In 2003, Harvick became the first driver to win the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis from the pole position. He posted 11 top-fives and 18 top-10s and finished the season fifth in points. He also scored three Xfinity victories and one Truck Series win.
While Harvick was winless in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2004, he went to victory lane twice in the Xfinity Series. In 2005, Harvick earned one NASCAR Cup Series win and four Xfinity Series wins.
Harvick enjoyed a breakout year in 2006, winning five races and scoring 20 top-10s en route to a fourth-place finish in the NASCAR Cup Series championship. That same season, Harvick was on fire in the Xfinity Series, in which he competed full-time and earned his second title with nine victories, 23 top-fives and 32 top-10s.
He continued his winning ways in 2007 by edging veteran 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 All-Star Race at Charlotte and took home the $1 million prize. He finished the season 10th in points.
Harvick also racked up six Xfinity 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 NASCAR Cup Series in 2008, he produced strong enough performances to once again make the Chase before finishing fourth in the season-ending standings. He also earned a Truck Series win 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-10s. While Harvick the driver didn’t have the best season on track, KHI scored its 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 NASCAR Cup Series standings for 20 weeks and battled for the series championship right through the season finale at Homestead. He finished third in the standings with three victories, 16 top-fives 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 Truck Series owner 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 NASCAR Cup Series victory, it was perhaps his most memorable year as he and 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 and amassed four victories, including one from the pole at Kansas Speedway. He scored nine top-fives and 21 top-10s while finishing third in points.
In addition to being a racer, Harvick is a dedicated philanthropist. He and DeLana formed the Kevin Harvick Foundation in 2010 to support programs that positively enrich the lives of children throughout the United States.
On Nov. 4, 2015, the foundation, in partnership with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, hosted the grand opening of the new Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Field at Kevin Harvick Foundation Park at the Boys & Girls Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. The park is a 92,000-square-foot, synthetic-turf, multi-purpose athletic field designed to host youth baseball, girls’ softball, youth soccer and other outdoor recreational and educational activities for at-risk children at the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs in Greensboro. The goal of the park is to provide at-risk children with access to a safe, clean, positive environment to participate in wholesome, out-of-school activities and mentoring programs while positively transforming not only their young lives, but the neighborhood in which they live. The park is complete with a scoreboard, dugouts, soccer goals, bleachers and fencing.
A second project in conjunction with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation opened on March 16, 2016, when Harvick and Ripken Jr. cut the ribbon to unveil the Kevin Harvick Foundation Park at the Boys & Girls Club of Kern County in Bakersfield. Much like the park in Greensboro, the state-of-the-art facility in Bakersfield was designed for multisport use, featuring four outdoor fitness stations, a rubber track surface circling the field’s perimeter and a digital scoreboard. The park, a gift to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Kern County, is maintained by the organization. The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and Kevin Harvick Foundation will continue to collaborate to create and implement character education programming and clinics for the children who utilize the facility.
Harvick resides in Charlotte and in his spare time enjoys golfing and hunting.