All the NASCAR buzz Sunday was about Kevin Harvick scoring his second Cup Series win in eight days. It made sense, too, because he had gone 65 races without a victory until going back-to-back at Michigan and Richmond.
Of all the observations made about the resurgence of the driver of the No. 4 Ford, the best may be how well he’s performed since turning 40, a juncture at which most racing careers have already ended.
Harvick is 46 now and the first to say we should not plan on marveling over all those additional races he’ll win after turning 50.
Kevin Harvick has scored almost half his wins after turning 40
Kevin Harvick was 26 years old and three races into his NASCAR Cup Series career in 2001 when he scored his first victory, prevailing at Atlanta Motor Speedway over Jeff Gordon, Jerry Nadeau, and Dale Jarrett as the quartet led 248 of the 325 laps. It was a sign of the impressive career that would follow.
Harvick finished ninth in points as the replacement for Dale Earnhardt following the Daytona tragedy, and he won at least one race in six of his first seven seasons. He hit his competitive peak in 2014 by winning five races and the Cup Series championship at the age of 38.
Life didn’t begin at 40 two seasons later, nor did the winning stop. Harvick won 31 races before the age of 40 but has tacked on another 29 since. He just tied with Kyle Busch for the lead among active drivers with 60 victories.
Kevin Harvick has a humorous reason why he won’t be racing in his 50s
Though Kevin Harvick just scored back-to-back wins, the standard for success late in a career belongs to Harry Gant in 1991. Gant was 51 years old that season when he won five races. The amazing aspect of the performance was that the victories at Darlington, Richmond, Dover, and Martinsville came consecutively late in the season to earn him the Mr. September nickname.
Mark Martin’s name has been thrown around as well. Martin won 40 Cup Series races, including 11 after the age of 40. He continued driving through 2013, when he was 54.
After Sunday’s triumph at Richmond, reporters pressed Harvick as to whether he might hang in long enough to race as a 50-year-old in 2026.
“My wife is going to kill you if you talk about racing into the 50s. I don’t know about that.”Kevin Harvick
Harvick followed up by saying his focus is strictly short-term.
“We’ll worry about wherever we’re going, Watkins Glen, this week,” he said.
The wins late in his career are a source of pride
Lee Petty (42 wins) and Bobby Allison (38) are the only drivers to have won more races than Kevin Harvick after the age of 40. The drivers he most recently passed were Dale Earnhardt (27) and Dale Jarrett (24), putting Harvick in impressive company.
“A lot of the guys that I grew up racing with, they’re all retired and doing other things, but I get to still see them,” Harvick said. “It’s those quiet high fives that are a lot of fun and kind of keep it in perspective for me because of the fact that you’re older and supposed to be done and kind of headed down a path that is toward the end.
“I’ve always prided myself in trying to be competitive and do what it takes to be competitive and make the sacrifices that it takes to be competitive. But I do enjoy it. There’s nothing better than winning. That’s what we do.”
All stats courtesy of Racing Reference.
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