Kevin Harvick's dreams of becoming a NASCAR Winston Cup driver came to be reality quicker than anyone expected. In February 2001 he took over the most distinguished ride in NASCAR history, after the devastating and tragic loss of NASCAR's greatest driver ever, Dale Earnhardt.
Kevin Harvick was born December 8, 1975 in Bakersfield, California. Spernding his early days watching his dad work on race cars, Kevin knew right away what he wanted to be in life.
Kevin began racing go-carts at the age of 5 years old. In 10 years at this level he grabbed 7 National titles and 2 Grand National titles. In 1993, Kevin won the Late Model championship at Mesa Marin Raceway. While completing high school, he continued racing limited schedules in various racing divisions.
Going racing full-time in 1995, Kevin won Rookie of the Year honors in the Featherlite Southwest Series. Following his decision to drop out of college, he won 5 races on his way to the 1998 Winston West championship. After 2 relatively unsuccessful seasons in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Kevin would be offered a BGN ride by Richard Childress.
Offered a ride by Richard Childress for 2000, Kevin took to the Busch Grand National series. Kevin turned heads immediately by setting or tying 4 rookie records. Of those records was his finish of 3rd in the points with 3 wins, 8 top 5's, and 16 top 10's in 31 starts while being named Rookie of the Year.
When the 2001 season rolled around, Kevin was picked as one of the favorites to win the BGN title. It was a good pick come season's end as he won the BGN championship with 5 wins, 20 top 5's, and 24 top 10's in 33 starts.
The Busch Grand National Series was only half of the story for Kevin in 2001. Kevin also competed in the Winston Cup Series. He became the first driver in NASCAR history to run full-time in both series, running in 68 points races in one year.
Just days following the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress named Kevin as the driver to take over the vacated seat of the GM Goodwrench Chevrolet for the remainder of the 2001 season. Kevin had an outstanding season winning in only his 3rd start under the extremely difficult circumstances. He finished as Rookie of the Year, 9th in points with 2 wins, 6 top 5's, and 16 top 10's in 35 starts.
As the 2002 season began, Kevin was thought to be a title contender. It didn't pan out that way as the whole #29 GM Goodwrench team struggled with bad finishes and inconsistancy. The season ended as Kevin finished 21st in points with 1 win, 5 top 5's, and 8 top 10's in 35 starts. Although he struggled in Winston Cup, Kevin won the IROC championship in his inaugural 2002 season.
When the 2003 season began, Kevin was again a title contender. More consistency allowed for his 1st top 5 points finish leaving him 5th in points with 1 win, 11 top 5's, and 18 top 10's in 36 starts.