Kevin Harvick: 10 standout moments from a stellar career

When Kevin Harvick retires at the end of this NASCAR Cup Series season, he will leave the driver’s seat as one of the most successful — and controversial — racers in the sport’s history.

Winner of 60 races (tied for ninth all-time) and the series’ 2014 champion, he rolled in from seasons of success on short tracks in California to make a name for himself quickly in NASCAR’s national series. He owns wins in four of NASCAR’s most important races — the Daytona 500, Southern 500, Brickyard 400 and Coca-Cola 600.

MORE: Kevin Harvick retiring after 2023 season

He is likely to glide with ease into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Along the way, Harvick has had clashes with a long list of drivers and with NASCAR, and he rarely misses a chance to speak his mind.

Here’s a look at some indelible moments from Harvick’s two-decade-plus career:

1. An emotional win at Atlanta — Harvick was thrust onto NASCAR’s big stage suddenly in 2001 as Richard Childress named him to replace Dale Earnhardt in RCR’s top ride after Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the Daytona 500. Harvick, under immense pressure as the sport mourned one of its icons, responded marvelously in his third race as Earnhardt’s replacement, edging Jeff Gordon in a photo finish to win at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

2. Thriller at Daytona — In one of the Daytona 500’s closest finishes, Harvick beat Mark Martin to the finish line by .02 of a second to win the 2007 Daytona 500.

MORE: Jimmie Johnson reveals new number, new team name

3. Taking flight at Bristol –– After an on-track incident at Bristol Motor Speedway in March 2002, Harvick jumped across Greg Biffle‘s car in the garage area and grabbed Biffle by the throat as they heatedly discussed what happened.

4. Tangling with Kyle Busch — Harvick and Kyle Busch made contact near the finish at Darlington Raceway in 2011, leading to a tense confrontation on pit road after the race. Harvick climbed from his car and attempted to punch Busch through the car window. Harvick’s car, bumped by Busch, rolled into the pit wall driverless.

5. A championship in 2014 — Harvick won the final two races of the season — at Phoenix in a must-win situation and at Homestead — to win the Cup championship and make his first season driving for Stewart-Haas Racing one to remember.

6. Analyzing Jimmie Johnson — Harvick issued a classic quote in February 2010 after Jimmie Johnson outran him at Auto Club Speedway to continue the No. 48 team’s run of success: “They have a golden horseshoe stuck up their ass. There’s no way to get around that.”

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: Best drivers without a Cup championship

7. Chasing Chase — Harvick and Chase Elliott had a running feud in 2021, highlighted by an altercation in the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway and a post-race argument and shoving match on pit road. Harvick called Elliott’s on-track move as they raced for the lead “Just chickenshit” and said he told Elliott “I wanted to rip his freaking head off.” Harvick later retaliated against Elliott at the Charlotte Roval.

8. Clashing with Ricky Rudd — In 2003 at Richmond, Harvick and Ricky Rudd tangled on track. After the race, Harvick parked his car next to Rudd’s on pit road, screamed at Rudd and climbed onto the hood of Rudd’s car. Asked what Harvick said to him, Rudd said he couldn’t tell because “he’s got that little yap-yap mouth.”

9. Ending a drought — After questions about the possibility of his talents declining, Harvick responded with a big win at Michigan in August last year to qualify for the playoffs and end a 65-race winless streak. Then he doubled down by winning again the next week at Richmond.

10. Double duty and a title — Called on to replace Dale Earnhardt in the Cup Series in 2001, Harvick also ran the full Xfinity Series (then Busch Series) schedule, which was RCR’s plan for him that season. Despite the difficulties associated with running both series full-time, Harvick won the Xfinity championship with five victories and 20 top-five runs.

Read more about NASCAR

Kevin Harvick announces he will retire after 2023 Cup season Report: 2023 to be Kevin Harvick’s final full-time Cup season RFK Racing adds sponsorship for Brad Keselowski, Chris Buescher

Kevin Harvick: 10 standout moments from a stellar career originally appeared on NBCSports.com