Kevin Harvick is one of the most experienced active NASCAR drivers, with more than thousand starts in all three national series between 1995 and 2016. He achieved his biggest success in 2014 when he became the Sprint Cup Series champion. Prior to that, he was a two-time Busch Series champion in 2001 and 2006. During his NASCAR career (until the end of 2016), Kevin Harvick has won 35 Sprint Cup races, 46 Busch/Nationwide/Xfinity Series races and 14 Truck Series races.
Kevin gets a first go-kart at the age 5
Kevin Harvick was born on December 8, 1975, in Bakersfield, California. His parents bought him a go-kart as a kindergarten graduation gift in 1980. Over the next decade, Harvick achieved considerable success, earning seven national championships and two Grand National championships. He switched to bigger cars in 1992. He started racing late models part-time in the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series. His father built him his first car to compete in the lower NASCAR Series.
Kevin tried several different sporting disciplines while he was in high school, such as wrestling, baseball, basketball, football and soccer. Harvick attended Bakersfield College but he dropped out to continue his racing career full-time.
Truck Series debut in 1995 with father's car
He made his Craftsman Truck Series debut in October 1995 at Bakersfield's Mesa Marin Raceway, driving his father's #72 Chevrolet and finishing 27th. In 1996, he participated in four races and he finished in 11th place at Mesa Marin Raceway.
In 1997, Harvick joined Spears Motorsport to drive the #75 Chevrolet in the second part of the season. The season of 1998 was his first full season, he scored three Top 5 finishes and ended a season in 17th place.
1998 Winston West Series champion, first title in a career
The same year, he took his first championship title. He was a dominant driver in the Winston West Series and he won five out of fourteen races.
One more Truck Series season followed in 1999, with #98 Liberty Racing's Ford. He missed victories three times, finishing second in three races. At the end of the season, he was 12th in the points.
Joining RCR in 1999, winning Busch Series in 2001
In October 1999, Harvick made his NASCAR Busch Series debut at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, driving the #2 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. Prior to that, he failed to qualify at Darlington.
For 2000 Busch Series season, Harvick signed with Richard Childress Racing to drive the #2 Chevrolet full season. With three wins and eight Top 5 results,he was third in the points and the best among the rookies. Next year, he won five Busch Series races and clinched his first national series title.
Maiden Cup Series victory in only third start
Richard Childress wanted to help Harvick to enter the Winston Cup Series in 2002, but Dale Earnhardt's death at 2001 Daytona 500 changed everything. Harvick debuted in the Winston Cup in the second race of the season at Rockingham, driving the #29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet. Two weeks later, he scored his maiden Winston Cup victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
After leading 18 laps, Harvick has won the race by only six-thousandths of a second ahead of Jeff Gordon, proving to be one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history since the introduction of electronic scoring in 1993.
Harvick became the fastest driver who won his first Winston Cup race in the modern era, breaking the record set by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2000. Later he has been surpassed by Jamie McMurray and Trevor Bayne.
2001 NASCAR Busch Series champion and Winston Cup Rookie of the Year
Later in a season, Harvick won one more race (at Chicagoland Speedway) and finished ninth in the points of the overall classification. He was awarded as the NASCAR Rookie of the Year. When he won the Busch Series that year, he became the first driver who won the Busch Series championship while also driving full-time in the Winston Cup Series.
The 2001 season was also a milestone year because Harvick launched his own team Kevin Harvick Incorporated to run the #6 Chevrolet in the Truck Series. He scored his first Truck Series win in 2002 at Phoenix.
2002 IROC winner and DNF at Daytona 24h
In 2002, Harvick completely switched to the Winston Cup Series, starting only four races in the Busch Series. He started his first Daytona 500 from the second place, next to the pole-sitter Jimmie Johnson, but Harvick's race ended in the 18-car crash on lap 148. A few months later, he scored his first career Winston Cup pole position in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. The third Cup victory came in July at Chicagoland Speedway. He finished 21st in the points standings.
The highlight of the season was Harvick's victory in the 2002 International Race of Champions, against many American racing legends.
In 2002, Harvick recorded his first and only participation at Daytona 24h. He was a member of the four-men crew in the #90 Flis Motorsports' Chevrolet Corvette, but they retired after 123 laps.
Brickyard 400 victory in 2003
In 2003 season, Harvick teamed with crew chief Todd Berrier in the Cup Series, with whom he had won the Busch championship in 2001. Together, they won the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis. It was his only Cup victory in 2003, he finished fifth in the points. In the Busch Series, Harvick participated in 19 races, winning three times.
Winless season in 2004
The season of 2004 was Harvick's first winless year in the Cup Series. He had fourteen Top 10 finishes and finished 14th in points. In the Busch Series, he was again sharing the car with another driver, the rookie Clint Bowyer. Harvick participated in 22 races, winning two times.
In 2005, Harvick's only Cup victory came at the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. In the Busch Series, Harvick participated in 21 races, winning four times.
Record breaking results in 2006, fourteen wins in two series
The season of 2006 was Harvick's most successful season in a career. He decided to run both NASCAR's top series full-time, scoring fourteen victories. With nine Busch Series wins in the #21 Chevrolet, he became the champion for the second time. In the Nextel Cup Series, he won five times with #29 Chevrolet, finishing fourth in the points.
In September, he won the first race of the Chase at New Hampshire International Speedway. He added one more Chase victory at Phoenix, but the fifth place in the final race put him to the fourth place in the final standings. In the Busch Series, he clinched a championship title with four races to go.
2007 Daytona 500 victory
In February 2007, Harvick scored his first (and only so far) victory at Daytona 500, winning by 0.020 seconds over Mark Martin. He also won the Busch Series race a day earlier.
With no more Cup wins during the season, Harvick finished 10th in the points. In the Busch Series, he was combining Richard Childress Racing's #21 Chevrolet and his own two cars, participating in 26 races and winning six times.
2008 – only one victory in the Truck Series
Harvick didn't win anything in 2008, but with seven Top 5 finishes, he was fourth in the points at the end of the season. In the Nationwide Series, he ran twenty-two races for his own team, but without victories. His only win in 2008 was in the Truck race at Phoenix.
No Cup wins in 2009
The season of 2009 started with a second place at Daytona 500. It remained Harvick's best result as he was again without Cup wins, for the second season in a row. He finished only 19th in the points.
In the Nationwide Series, he won the first race with his own car in March at Bristol. He participated in 22 Nationwide Series races, scoring two wins. He added three more Truck Series wins to his account.
Three wins for third place in 2010
After two Cup seasons without wins, Harvick returned to the Victory Lane at Talladega in April. Another win followed in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. The third win, at Michigan, locked him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
He finished the regular season and scored the first place but he started the Chase in a third place after the points were adjusted. During the 10-race Chase, Harvick scored five Top 5 results, finishing third overall, which was his best result in a career.
In other series, he won three times in the Nationwide Series and three times in the Truck Series, driving for his own team.
Shutting down his own team to focus on the Sprint Cup
In 2011 Sprint Cup season, Harvick repeated his third-place finish at the end of the season. He won four races (Fontana, Martinsville, Charlotte, Richmond). With his own team, he scored four wins in the Truck Series. At the end of the year, Harvick announced that he would shut down his team because he wanted to focus on winning the Sprint Cup Series title.
He needed three more seasons to do that. In 2012, he scored just one victory in the penultimate race of the season, finishing 8th in the points. In 2013, he visited Victory Lane four times and was third in the points at the end of the season.
2014 champion in the first season with #4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
After thirteen seasons with Richard Childress Racing, Kevin Harvick joined Stewart Haas Racing for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. He also announced a part-time schedule in the Nationwide Series with JR Motorsports.
The first Cup victory in the #4 car came in the second race of the season at Phoenix. The second win came at Darlington. Three more wins followed during the Chase (Charlotte, Phoenix, Homestead) and he won the championship.
2015 Sprint Cup Series championship runner-up
The season of 2015 started with great results – three second-places and two wins in first five races. His win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was his first in a career on that track. Next week's victory at Phoenix was his seventh on that track. He won one more time, at Dover.
By the end of the season, Harvick collected a record number of 23 Top 5 finishes. In the decisive race, the season's finale at Homestead-Miami, he finished second, giving a championship title to Kyle Busch.
Four Cup Series wins in 2016
In 2016, Harvick was again among the front-runners, winning two races (Phoenix, Bristol) in the regular season and entering the Chase. During the Chase, he won at Chicagoland and Kansas, but he was eliminated before the Round of 4. He finished 8th in the final classification.
Harvick founded a charity organization in 2010
In addition to his long and successful career, Harvick and his wife DeLans established a charity organization called Kevin Harvick Foundation with the mission to help children throughout the USA. The foundation works to not only improve the quality of life but to help underprivileged youth to realize their dreams by different supporting programs.