NASCAR: Kevin Harvick’s suspension will likely cost him a record

Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

It may have happened more than two decades ago, but Kevin Harvick’s suspension could now end up costing him an all-time NASCAR Cup Series record.

2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick confirmed earlier this week that he is set to retire once the 2023 season ends. Harvick has competed full-time in the sport since taking over for Dale Earnhardt following his tragic death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

After spending the first 13 seasons of his career with Richard Childress Racing, the Bakersfield, California native made the switch to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, and he has driven the No. 4 car ever since.

Harvick has competed in 790 Cup Series races in his career, and by the time the 2023 season ends, that number is set to be 826.

While he isn’t close to breaking the record for most career Cup Series starts, which is held by Richard Petty (1,184), he is close to the all-time record for most consecutive starts, having not missed a race since 2002.

Entering the 2023 season, the 47-year-old has competed in 748 consecutive races, dating back to the April 2002 race at Talladega Superspeedway. If he competes in all 36 races on the 2023 schedule, that streak would reach 784 races, which would be good for third place on the all-time list and just 13 shy of Jeff Gordon’s record of 797.

So the fact that Kevin Harvick was suspended for the April 2002 NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway could cost him this record.

How would a single missed race ruin a streak that is 13 races shy of the record? Because before that race, he hadn’t missed a start since making his Cup Series debut at Rockingham Speedway (North Carolina Speedway) in February 2001.

Harvick’s streak was at 42 races when he was suspended for his actions in the Martinsville Speedway Truck Series race, which took place the day before the Cup Series event.

Without this suspension, all 791 of his starts would have been made in a row, which would rank ahead of Ricky Rudd’s mark of 788 and be just six shy of Gordon’s record.

He would be on pace to tie the record in the 2023 season’s sixth race at Circuit of the Americas and break it in the seventh race at Richmond Raceway.

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A full season in 2023 would have extended his now-record streak to 827.