Kevin Harvick proved the exception to the old sports adage: “You never want to replace a legend.”
The NASCAR star and California native, who turned 47 in December, announced this week he will retire from full-time racing at the end of the 2023 season.
Harvick has 60 career victories in the top-tier Cup series, even with Kyle Busch for the most among active drivers and tied for ninth all-time. And Harvick heads into the Daytona 500, Feb. 19 at Daytona International Raceway, looking to start his final full season with a splash in NASCAR’s most prestigious race.
Harvick Began Career Strong
He began his Cup career in extremely difficult circumstances as a rookie, replacing the legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr. at Richard Childress Racing after Earnhardt was killed in the 2001 Daytona 500. Harvick was called up from the second-tier Busch Grand National Series (now the Xfinity Series) to take that seat as the car changed from Earnhardt’s iconic black No. 3 Chevrolet to a No. 29 car with a mostly white paint scheme.
Harvick proved to be a quick learner at NASCAR’s top level, winning just his third start by edging Jeff Gordon at the finish to take the checkered flag at Atlanta on March 11, 2001. It was a signature moment, providing some healing for a grieving team and sport, and it launched Harvick toward an extremely successful career.
After 13 seasons at RCR — including a Daytona 500 win in 2007 — Harvick left for Stewart Haas Racing in 2014. He captured his lone NASCAR Cup Series championship in that first season with SHR, with five race wins including a sweep of both races at Phoenix and the season finale, the title-clinching victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Kevin Harvick Chances in 2023 Daytona 500
Harvick enters this year’s Daytona 500 with +2500 odds to win NASCAR”s biggest race, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. There is no legal Florida sports betting, so folks attending the race won’t be able to wager on it. Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott are co-favorites at +1200 with DraftKings.
Harvick has won twice at Daytona, including the July race in 2010, but the 2.5-mile superspeedway is not one of Harvick’s best tracks. In fact he has won just three career races, including one at Talladega, on the sport’s fastest tracks.
Kevin Harvick’s Best and Worst Tracks
FloridaBet.com researched Kevin Harvick’s career to find his best and worst tracks, including places where he has at least 30 career starts. Here they are, sorted by most or fewest victories. He has won at every one of the 15 tracks where he at least 30 starts (actually, he has won at every track where he has raced more than 10 times in the Cup Series) so “worst tracks” is relative here.
Veteran’s Impressive Career Stats
During 22 full seasons in NASCARs top series, Harvick has had only four winless years. In 13 of those seasons he has racked up multiple victories including 2020, when he earned a career-high nine wins at the age of 45.
If Florida gets legal online sports betting going at some point with multiple operators, major players are sure to want to flock to the Sunshine State and FanDuel Florida Sportsbook, among others, would give consumers the best choice and most convenience.
FanDuel has Harvick listed at +1600 odds to win the NASCAR Cup series title in 2023. That’s tied for 10th on the board along with Tyler Reddick and Martin Truex Jr. Chase Elliott is the favorite at +550, with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson right behind at +650; both are former series champions.
Can Harvick — the wily, well-respected veteran — beat the odds one last time, as he did as a rookie in Atlanta all those years ago, and earn a second championship in his final full season? If so, it will only add to his legacy as a driver who replaced one NASCAR Hall of Famer and built a Hall of Fame resume all his own.