Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing, will be making his 800th NASCAR Cup Series start in Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Talk about a major milestone for the NASCAR veteran, whose Cup career began in 2001 and who will be hanging it up at the season's end.
During an interview with the Alabama-based WSFA12, Harvick expressed just how proud he was over the huge accomplishment.
"That's the part I'm most proud of, being able to do this at such a high level for so long," Harvick said. "But wrapping your arms around 800 of them is, for me, quite an honor, just because of the fact that you've been able to adapt and adjust to so many things in the sport. But being competitive is still the thing that I enjoy the most. Getting to that number is great, but getting there and being competitive is better."
Harvick will become just the 10th driver in NASCAR's 75-year history to reach the milestone, at age 47, making him the fifth-youngest driver to do so.
He will join an impressive lineup of drivers that includes Richard Petty (1,185 starts), Ricky Rudd (906), Terry Labonte (890), Dave Marcis (829), Mark Martin (882), Kyle Petty (829), Bill Elliott (828), Darrell Waltrip (809), and Jeff Gordon (805). Harvick is on pace to finish at 826 starts by the end of the season, which will put him eighth all-time. Not bad for a future Hall of Famer.
If Harvick can find himself in victory lane on Sunday, he would become just the second such driver in NASCAR history to do so. The only other driver to win in their 800th start is none other than Richard 'The King" Petty.
When Harvick was asked about what he has done to remain so competitive for such a long time, he said, "I think I've taken pretty good care myself throughout the years to make myself durable through all the travel and time you put in to make it as a race car driver. Being able to adapt and adjust to new things and people is always important."
Despite 2023 being Harvick's final season, he currently sits third in the championship standings, only 15 points behind current points leader Christopher Bell. Harvick has been the best of the bunch for SHR, racking up three top 5 finishes and five top 10 finishes thus far. He is coming off a strong showing at Martinsville, where he got his first stage win since 2020.
The 800th start isn't the only milestone on the table for Harvick; he is 36 laps led away from reaching 16,000 laps led in his career. That's a mark only 10 other drivers have ever reached in the history of the sport.
"Talladega is one of those places where you want to race up front and race hard all day because you have to try to win the stages. I believe you have a better chance of avoiding the wrecks if you stay at the front and keep the track position all day," Harvick said. "You are going to be racing in a pack throughout the race, three-wide at times, and you never know what is going to happen."
Harvick and the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series drivers will take the green flag for the GEICO 500 on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
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