Kevin Harvick announced Thursday that he will retire from full-time racing at the end of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. News of Harvick's retirement was first reported by Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic.
Harvick, who turned 47 in December and is the longest-tenured full-time Cup driver, had stated last month that he planned to make a decision on whether or not 2023 would be his final season by the start of Speedweeks in Daytona. Last October, the Associated Press reported that Harvick had indicated to Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas that he did not want to continue racing beyond his current contract with the team.
"There is absolutely nothing else in the world that I enjoy doing more than going to the racetrack, and I'm genuinely looking forward to this season," read a statement by Harvick issued by Stewart-Haas Racing. "But as I've gone through the years, I knew there would come a day where I had to make a decision. When would it be time to step away from the car?
"I've sought out people and picked their brains. When I asked them when they knew it was the right time, they said it'll just happen, and you'll realize that's the right moment. You'll make a plan and decide when it's your last year.
"It's definitely been hard to understand when that right moment is because we've been so fortunate to run well. But sometimes there are just other things going on that become more important and, for me, that time has come."
#4EVER pic.twitter.com/iH5dzpt4HY— Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) January 12, 2023
A native of Bakersfield, Calif., Harvick was just beginning to distinguish himself as an up-and-comer in NASCAR when he was thrust into an enormous responsibility: When Dale Earnhardt was killed in a crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, Harvick was hurriedly named the new driver of the Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet that Earnhardt had driven.
The then-25 year old responded in resounding fashion, scoring his first Cup Series win in a photo finish in his third career start and posting two wins in total on his way to a ninth-place finish in points and Rookie of the Year honors.
Over the next two decades, Harvick put together an all-time great career, winning all of NASCAR's majors -- the 2007 Daytona 500, three Brickyard 400s, two Coca-Cola 600s and two Southern 500s -- as well as the 2014 Cup Series championship. Entering the 2023 season, Harvick's 60 career wins are tied for ninth on the sport's all-time wins list.
Harvick also won two championships in what is now the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2001 and 2006 to go with 47 Xfinity wins -- third in series history -- 14 Craftsman Truck Series wins and 53 total victories and two championships as the owner of Kevin Harvick Inc., which fielded Xfinity and Truck Series teams from 2002 until 2011.
Harvick becomes the latest veteran Cup Series driver to bring his career to a close. Last October, Kurt Busch -- part of the same Rookie of the Year class as Harvick in 2001 -- announced that he would step down as a full-time Cup driver after concussion symptoms forced him to miss the final 16 races of the season.