NASCAR champion comes out of retirement, joins Hendrick Motorsports

Kevin Harvick won't compete in the NASCAR All-Star Race, but he is set to stand in for Kyle Larson in practice and qualifying for the North Wilkesboro Speedway event.
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR / Sean Gardner/GettyImages

2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick retired from full-time competition at the end of the 2023 season and joined the Fox broadcast booth, where he currently serves as a driver analyst alongside former teammate Clint Bowyer and lead announcer Mike Joy.

Now the 60-time race winner is set to return to the Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports, doing so as a "standby" driver for Kyle Larson at North Wilkesboro Speedway ahead of next month's All-Star Race.

Because of Larson's IndyCar commitments at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ahead of the Indy 500 and his quest to become the fifth driver to attempt the Memorial Day Double -- and just the second driver to complete it -- he will not be able to participate in all of the sessions leading up to the All-Star Race, which he won last year.

Kevin Harvick to stand in for Kyle Larson

Specifically, Harvick is set to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet in practice and qualifying for the All-Star Race on Friday, May 17, when Larson plans to participate in Fast Friday practice for the Indy 500 with the engines turned up in preparation of qualifying on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19.

Larson is not guaranteed to return to North Wilkesboro on Saturday for the heat races, depending on when he qualifies and how many attempts he makes behind the wheel of his No. 17 McLaren-Hendrick Chevrolet. But Harvick is not eligible to run the heat races, nor is he eligible to run the All-Star Race itself since he is no longer a full-time driver and did not win a race last year.

Larson is sticking with his initial plan to be at North Wilkesboro for the race on Sunday, even if he advances to the Top 12 -- or even the Fast 6 shootout -- at Indianapolis and has to miss it, which would take him out of the running for an Indy 500 pole position.

There were rumors about Dale Earnhardt Jr. being tabbed to serve in this role, but there was never much substance to any of those, and it was Harvick whom team owner Rick Hendrick called to make his return to the series, even though he is still set to take in the main event from the broadcast booth as opposed to the driver's seat.

Larson is currently listed as the third favorite to win the Indy 500 at DraftKings Sportsbook, which is giving fans an instant $200 for betting $5 on any driver, win or lose.

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