Written by Levi Powell, Edited by Simran Kanthi
With his win last week at Richmond, Kevin Harvick matched Kyle Busch for ninth in all-time wins in NASCAR. NASCAR's oldest driver has won back-to-back races after snapping a 65-race winless streak. Today, we look back at the three most important wins of Harvick's incredible career.
Coming in at number three, we have his nine wins at Phoenix Raceway. While it is not one race specifically, Harvick is the all-time leader in wins at Phoenix. His next closest competitor is Jimmie Johnson with four wins at the track. Harvick boasts a ridiculous 24% win rate at Phoenix. With the track now hosting the championship race, Harvick's chances look up for a championship. If Harvick can make the championship four, he will be one of the favourites to win championship number two at his best track.
At number two, we have the 2007 Daytona 500. The Daytona 500 is the crown jewel of the NASCAR season. It is the first race of the year and the most prestigious; every driver dreams of winning this race. Harvick did just that in 2007. On the final lap of the race, with cars crashing in Turn 4, Harvick passed the fan favourite, Mark Martin, to win by a margin of 0.02 seconds. Harvick said in interviews that beating Martin, a NASCAR Hall of Famer, that day made the win that much sweeter.
Number one is the 2001 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This would be Harvick's first win, but to understand its significance, we need to rewind to 2000. In 2000, Kevin Harvick was making his start in what is now the NASCAR Xfinity Series. It is NASCAR's minor league series or the equivalent of Formula 2. Despite failing to qualify for a race, Harvick would win three races and finish third in points that season. RCR (Richard Childress Racing) had signed Harvick for the 2001 season to continue in the Xfinity series and develop, but that all changed on 18 February 2001. NASCAR had lost Dale Earnhardt to a crash at Daytona, and RCR needed a replacement driver. Kevin Harvick was called up to replace Dale Earnhardt effective immediately for the 2001 season.
Coming back to Atlanta, it's Harvick's third career NASCAR start. The famous black three of Earnhardt is gone, replaced by the white number 29. This day would be the biggest day of Harvick's career. Replacing a legend, especially one of Earnhardt's calibre, is never an easy feat. But on this day, Harvick delivered, beating the eventual 2001 champion Jeff Gordon by .006 seconds. The fans cheered as Harvick honoured Dale Earnhardt in one of the most popular wins of that season.