NASCAR playoff drivers who won’t be back: No. 5 – Kevin Harvick
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a driver who retired after the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season isn’t going to be taking part in the 2024 playoffs, but the inclusion of Kevin Harvick on this list is significant for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, the fact is that, yes, Harvick is obviously going to be excluded from next year’s playoff field, thus opening up a spot for somebody else. Secondly, Harvick’s streak of 14 consecutive playoff appearances was the longest among active drivers, so his absence will certainly be felt.
And finally, Harvick’s retirement could put Stewart-Haas Racing in a spot where they miss the playoffs entirely, as he was the team’s only playoff driver in 2023. Nobody else even came remotely close.
Neither Chase Briscoe nor Ryan Preece finished the 2023 season in the top 20 in the standings, and presumed Aric Almirola replacement Noah Gragson posted just two top 20 finishes in 21 starts with Legacy Motor Club as a rookie in 2023.
Josh Berry, whose Cup Series experience is limited to a few starts as a substitute driver, is set to replace Harvick behind the wheel of the No. 4 Ford.
Stewart-Haas Racing, which have struggled mightily since the end of the 2020 season, are in the process of a full-blown rebuild, and anything more than a handful of top 10 finishes in 2024 would be viewed as a victory.
The 2023 season was their first winless season since 2008, which was before they had ever even won a Cup Series race, and another winless season could be in store for 2024.