Kevin Harvick ready for his ‘big moment’

NORTH WILKESBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 19: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Busch Light Ford, looks on from the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 19, 2023 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Before this weekend, Kevin Harvick had never raced a NASCAR Cup Series car at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Nevertheless, when he arrived at the .625-mile short track for his final NASCAR All-Star Race, Harvick felt the reality of his final season in NASCAR’s top division set in.

It wasn’t the track itself that gave Harvick pause. It was the car number he is driving through an agreement between Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Childress Racing. Harvick is behind the wheel of the No. 29, the car number he drove to his first Cup victory in 2001, just three weeks after taking over the RCR ride following the death of Dale Earnhardt.

“Yeah, I think this is the first one where I was like, ‘Oh, man. This is a big moment,’” Harvick said. “Just with the 29 and seeing how excited Richard is to see it on the track and all the things that come with those 14 years with RCR and being able to actually do this is a pretty big moment.

“I think that the coolest part about it is the fact that the two companies worked together and being able to have the respect of Richard and everyone there to be able to actually let them have us do this is something that means a lot.”

Harvick drives a Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing. Childress fields Chevrolets and controls the number 29, which historically has been in his stable.

“It’s more the car than the track for me,” Harvick said. “I’m honored to be here, and I think it’s a great event, but to understand and see how important this particular number and paint scheme, I mean it really caught me off guard, too.

“I almost had to re-learn the importance and the impact of that particular moment in our sport because, like I said earlier, there’s more to it than the paint scheme and the number. It’s really a moment in NASCAR that means something to people that aren’t even fans of yours or Earnhardt…

“I know that car on the racetrack one more time is important to a lot of fans, so it’s a great moment for the car and the track to do all of that together.”