Kevin Harvick is one of the top drivers on the NASCAR circuit today, and making it in the world’s top racing league fulfills a lifelong dream for the 44-year-old. He knew what he wanted to do from a young age — and it is all thanks to his parents.
They gave him a gift when he was 5 years old that what was initially piqued his interest in the sport, and he followed that interest all the way to NASCAR. Here’s a look at what that gift was and how it set Harvick on a path to becoming one of the world’s top drivers.
The gift that got Kevin Harvick interested in racing
According to his website, Harvick’s interest in racing got kick-started when he was 5 years old. His parents got him a gift for his kindergarten graduation — a go-kart. He quickly took to the go-kart and started racing at local tracks when he was 7 years old.
He was successful on the karting circuit, winning seven national championships and two Grand National championships in a 10-year period. Harvick’s parents supported him in his go-karting career, as he recalled in an interview with Mike Griffith, he and his dad “spent the most time together going from go-kart track to go-kart track” between the ages of 5 and 18.
From go-karts to race cars
After building up an impressive resume in go-karting, Kevin Harvick moved into full-bodied stock cards in 1992 by competing in the Late Model division at local tracks.
In 1993, he won the Late Model championship at Mesa Marin Speedway, his hometown track. He pursued a professional racing career full-time after he graduated high school, and in 1995 he was competing full-time on the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour.
That year, he finished 11th in points and won Rookie of the Year honors. Mesa Marin was the site of the first Truck Series start of Harvick’s career that October; he finished in 27th place in the family-owned No. 72 truck, which he would continue to drive in 1996 before switching to the Spears Motorsports No. 75 in 1997. He continued to compete on the Truck Series and other lesser NASCAR series until the turn of the century.
In 2000, Richard Childress selected Harvick to compete for his team in the Xfinity Series. Harvick notched three wins that year and was again named Rookie of the Year. He began his Cup Series career in 2001 following the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt at that year’s Daytona 500.
Childress tabbed Harvick to take Earnhardt’s spot on the team’s Cup Series roster, and he competed in both the Cup Series and the Xfinity Series.
Kevin Harvick’s impressive NASCAR career
From that start in NASCAR, Harvick has built an impressive resume and become one of the top drivers of his generation. According to his website, in nearly 700 career starts in the Cup Series, Harvick has 50 wins — including at the Real Heroes 400 as NASCAR returned with its first race after the COVID-19 shutdown — and 208 top-five finishes.
He has finished in the top-10 366 times and has held the pole in 31 races. He won the championship title in the series in 2014. He has made just shy of 350 Xfinity Series starts, picking up 47 wins in those races.
He has finished in the top five 185 times, with 259 top-10 finishes in the second-tier series. Harvick has 25 poles in Xfinity races, and he has won two championship titles — in 2001 and 2006. That makes him one of only five drivers to win a championship in each of the two series. He won the Daytona 500 in 2007, his only victory in NASCAR’s biggest race.