NASCAR: Kevin Harvick quietly surpassed a Richard Petty mark in 2020

Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

Lost in the midst of Kevin Harvick’s shocking NASCAR Cup Series playoff elimination was the fact that he surpassed Richard Petty in one statistical category and is now within striking distance of the record.

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series round of 8 finale at Martinsville Speedway generally won’t bring back positive memories for Kevin Harvick, whose historic season effectively went down the tubes with a shocking elimination from the playoffs, his first elimination prior to the Championship 4 since 2016.

But in that race, he quietly passed Richard Petty for second place on the all-time list in one notable statistical category across the three NASCAR national series, and he is now within striking distance of the all-time record.

This race was the 717th Cup Series race of Harvick’s career and the 1,186th race of his NASCAR career, as he has also competed in 346 Xfinity Series races and 123 Truck Series races. Petty competed in 1,185 races, all in the Cup Series.

Had Harvick passed this mark in 2019, he would hold the new NASCAR record. But he didn’t, and he doesn’t.

More from NASCAR

That is because Joe Nemechek is currently the recordholder in this category after making the 1,186th start of his NASCAR career in the 2019 Truck Series finale to break Petty’s record.

He has since competed in the 2019 Xfinity Series and Cup Series finales at the same track as well as eight races in the 2020 Xfinity Series season and one race in the 2020 Truck Series season. He has now competed in 1,197 races, including 674 Cup Series races, 453 Xfinity Series races and 70 Truck Series races.

After quietly surpassing Petty’s mark, Harvick went on to compete in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway, bringing his career Cup Series start total to 718 and his career NASCAR start total 1,187, just 10 shy of Nemechek’s relatively new record. This is a record he is poised to break at some point in 2021, depending on where and when Nemechek competes.

Next. Top 10 NASCAR drivers of all-time. dark

Mark Martin sits in fourth place on the all-time list with 1,143 starts ahead of Kyle Busch in fifth with 1,082. Busch is an active driver who is more than nine years younger than Harvick and still competes not only full-time in the Cup Series but regularly in the Xfinity Series and Truck Series as well, so he is well-positioned to break whatever the record ends up being several years down the road.