NASCAR: Kevin Harvick in line for surprise Coca-Cola 600 return?

Though he filled in for Kyle Larson at North Wilkesboro Speedway, Kevin Harvick is not an option to fill in for him for the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR's longest race of the year.
Kevin Harvick, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR
Kevin Harvick, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

Kevin Harvick got the opportunity to briefly come out of his retirement from NASCAR Cup Series action and drive the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports at North Wilkesboro Speedway during All-Star Race weekend, as Kyle Larson was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway practicing and qualifying for the 108th running of the Indy 500.

Harvick got the chance to practice behind the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet and qualify the car for the All-Star Race. Qualifying was initially done to set the starting lineups for the heat races, but those races were rained out; Harvick was not allowed to compete in them anyway. He was also ineligible to compete in the All-Star Race itself.

Larson was able to make it from Indianapolis to North Wilkesboro in time for the All-Star Race on Sunday night, though the start time was pushed back for him after he advanced to the Firestone Fast Six shootout for the pole position, the third and final round of qualifying, at Indy.

Now Larson is set for true "Double Duty": the Memorial Day Double.

Larson is aiming to become just the fifth driver to ever compete in both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. It hasn't happened since Kurt Busch pulled it off in 2014, and Tony Stewart is the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles, doing so in 2001.

Larson has emphasized that, in the event that weather becomes a factor, the Coca-Cola 600 is his priority, meaning that he is by no means guaranteed to compete in the Indy 500, even after qualifying in fifth place on Sunday.

We're going to assume that, in the event that he's leading the race (or at least near the front of the field) and a late red flag pushes back the finish, Rick Hendrick himself isn't going to make a huge fuss.

As a result, there is technically a backup plan. But that backup plan does not include Harvick this time around.

After ending his brief retirement by returning to the NASCAR on Fox broadcast booth during the All-Star Race itself on Sunday night, Harvick is set to remain in the booth for the Coca-Cola 600, calling the longest race on the schedule alongside fellow driver analyst Clint Bowyer and lead announcer Mike Joy.

Justin Allgaier is believed to be the standby driver for Larson at Charlotte. The JR Motorsports Xfinity Series most notably filled in for Jimmie Johnson at Hendrick Motorsports back in July 2020, ironically at Indianapolis, when Johnson was sidelined following a positive COVID-19 test.

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NBC is set to broadcast the Indy 500 live from Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET this Sunday, May 26. Fox is set to broadcast the Coca-Cola 600 live from Charlotte Motor Speedway beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV and don't miss any of the action!