When Kevin Harvick gets behind the wheel of his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford this Sunday for the United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway, he'll be looking to earn a rare spot alongside some legendary NASCAR drivers. If he can see the checkered flag at Phoenix, it'll mark his 10th career win at the track and make him the sixth driver to have ever won double-digit races at a single venue. But, Harvick's connection to Phoenix Raceway goes beyond just NASCAR Cup Series accolades.
The 47-year-old Harvick has been fortunate to have a family that supported his dreams of making it big as a professional race car driver from the very beginning. One of Kevin's biggest fans was his grandpa, who was there long before the Bakersfield, California native made his Cup Series debut. In fact, in a recent post on Twitter, Harvick recalled his grandfather's diehard connection to Phoenix Raceway back when Harvick was barely starting out in the Truck Series. If this doesn't hit you right in the feels, then I really don't know what to tell you.
— Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) March 9, 2023
"When I started racing there, I guess 1994 was the first time, my grandpa would go there three weeks early, and he'd drive his motorhome there and he'd park it right in the same spot," Harvick wrote.
"He'd be in the very corner next to the chain-link fence on the exit of what would've been turn two at that particular time before they flopped the racetrack. You used to come over the racetrack — there was no tunnel or anything to drive through — so you had to sit out there while they were waiting for practice to end or they cleared everybody to open the garage."
"I drove the truck and trailer, and every time I'd get there, my grandpa would be smoking a cigarette, leaning against the chain-link fence, waiting for me [to] drive in and race. I knew if I didn't go over and talk to my grandpa, he'd yell obnoxiously loud until I came over there, and he knew exactly when I was going to get there, when I was going to drive by, what time the garage opened, whatever it was, you were not escaping Grandpa."
It makes sense that the nostalgia over his grandpa's support would be hitting Harvick now, as the 2023 season will mark his last as a full-time driver in the Cup Series. Speaking of nostalgia, if Harvick can secure the win at Phoenix, he'll join Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Jimmie Johnson, David Pearson, and Dale Earnhardt Sr. on the short list of NASCAR drivers who have double-digit wins at the same track.
Petty accomplished the feat at a whopping five tracks during his career, with 15 wins at Martinsville, 15 wins at North Wilkesboro, 13 wins at Richmond, 11 wins at Rockingham, and 10 wins Daytona. Waltrip had double-digit wins at three tracks: Bristol (12), Martinsville (11), and North Wilkesboro (10), while Johnson got it done at Dover, winning there 11 times. Pearson got his 10 victories at Darlington, while Dale Earnhardt saw the checkered flag 10 times at Talladega.
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