NASCAR: Will Kevin Harvick’s major record ever be broken?

Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

Kevin Harvick competed in 1,299 races across the three NASCAR national series, more than any other driver. Will that record ever be broken?

Kevin Harvick slowly but surely clawed his way toward the all-time starts record across the three NASCAR national series throughout the 36-race 2020 season, positioning himself to break that record in 2021.

He entered the 2020 season 1,151 starts to his name, a total which ranked third on the all-time list after he had made his way past Mark Martin (1,143) during the 2019 playoffs.

Richard Petty had held the record with 1,185 starts, all in the Cup Series, before Joe Nemechek competed in the 2019 Truck Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway for his 1,186th career start.

Nemechek added to that total by competing in both the 2019 Xfinity Series season finale and the 2019 Cup Series season finale at the same venue, and he competed in eight more Xfinity Series races and one more Truck Series race in 2020 to extend that record to 1,197 by the time the 2020 season ended.

After completing the full 2020 Cup Series season, Harvick had quietly passed Petty for second place on the all-time starts list and brought himself to within just 10 starts of Nemechek’s record at 1,187. Nemechek’s nine starts in the 2020 season marked his 32nd consecutive season of competition in some capacity.

Harvick retired after running three more Cup Series seasons, during which time he also competed in three Xfinity Series races and a Truck Series race. Nemechek has not competed in any races since, though he attempted to qualify for the 2021 season-opening Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway and the August 2022 Xfinity Series race at the track.

As a result, Harvick broke the record in April 2021 at Talladega Superspeedway with his 1,198th career start across the Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Truck Series, and he retired after 1,299 career starts.

Will his record ever fall?

It does appear that this record may be short-lived, much like Nemechek’s ended up being, but it should last a bit longer than Nemechek’s did.

Among active drivers, Kyle Busch leads the way with 1,214 starts, a total which ranks second on the all-time list behind only Harvick.

Busch is more than nine years younger than Harvick, and he also regularly competes in the Xfinity Series and the Truck Series in addition to his full-time Cup Series schedule.

Even though he has said that he would retire from Xfinity Series competition once he secured his 100th victory, which he did in June 2021 at Nashville Superspeedway, he ended up returning to the series for four more races in 2023 — and will presumably be back for more in 2024.

He also still plans to compete in five Truck Series races each year, even after selling his Kyle Busch Motorsports team to Spire Motorsports.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

It’s hard to imagine Busch not reaching 1,300 starts at some point within the next few seasons. Sitting 86 starts away, it’s reasonable to assume he’ll get there by late 2025 or early 2026 at the latest. And now that Harvick has hung up his helmet and made his way to the Fox Sports broadcast booth, Rowdy is poised to break the record.