Kevin Harvick’s Final Dance With The Lady In Blackby Hunter Thomas August 29, 2023 0 comments
DARLINGTON, S.C. – After 23 years of competing in the NASCAR Cup Series, Kevin Harvick will retire at the end of the season, and this weekend at Darlington Raceway, he will dance with the Lady in Black one final time.
Despite not having won a race in 2023, Harvick managed to qualify for the NASCAR Playoffs. Throughout the Regular Season, the driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford earned six top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in the 26 races this season. With the performance, he secured the 15th-place seed in the opening round of the NASCAR Playoffs.
Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 will mark Harvick’s 817th start in the NASCAR Cup Series, and throughout the decades, Darlington Raceway has been one of his best performing tracks. In fact, in 31 starts, Harvick has finished within the top-10 61.3% of the time and has an overall average finish of 12.4. The Bakersfield, California native won the 2014 Cook Out Southern 500, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, he won two additional races in 2020. Harvick has finished within the top-five on 14 occasions; however, what’s even more impressive is that 12 of those top-five finishes have come within the last 15 races at Darlington Raceway.
Harvick enters the Cook Out Southern 500 coming off a ninth-place finish at Daytona International Speedway in the Coke Zero Sugar 400, where he came so close to earning his first win of the season. Harvick started the race in ninth, and he finished out Stage 1 in third, leading the way for the Fords; however, in Stage 2, he fell out of the top-10. On the final lap of the race, Harvick led the low lane with RFK Racing teammates, Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski on the high lane. The two RFK Racing drivers held a commanding lead, and in the end, Chase Elliott, along with Kevin Harvick and Alex Bowman just couldn’t tighten the draft enough to overthrow the RFK Racing duo.
“We knew we were in a bad spot with the two teammates,” Harvick said about racing with RFK Racing on the final lap. “The Fords could just push so much better than the Chevys. Chase (Elliott) gave me a couple of good shots but they can’t really stay attached and push because of the shape of their nose, so they just got in front of me. We fought all the way to the end and then they hung me in the middle and we finished ninth, but it was fun.”
Now that the NASCAR Playoffs are upon Darlington Raceway, the already epic season is bound to get even crazier as the energy intensifies. Harvick is hoping for a better result than last year, when he finished out the season in 15th. The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion, however, is looking to write his name in the history books one final time. As for a Playoff prediction? Harvick doesn’t have one.
“I don’t really know (if it’s possible to predict what will happen in the playoffs), we’ll just go race every week and see what happens,” Harvick said. “I don’t want to predict anything.”
The NASCAR Playoffs will kick off at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, September 3. Live coverage of the Cook Out Southern 500 will broadcast on USA at 6 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com