Dale Earnhardt Jr. envisions a monster 2023 season for Kevin Harvick, his last in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Harvick, 47, announced Thursday that he will retire from full-time racing after the season, bringing an end to a two-plus decade run at the top of the sport. Earnhardt Jr., the NASCAR Hall of Famer, said on Twitter he believes Harvick will have a “ZFG” attitude on the race track this season.
“Incredible career for @KevinHarvick,” Earnhardt Jr. wrote. “His path to becoming a champion wasn’t an easy one. I always respected his talent and approach through the years. I predict absolutely ZFG in the final year. Imagine he will be fun to watch.”
One of the best drivers of his generation, Harvick is 10th on the all-time Cup Series wins list with 60. In each season from 2010-2021, Harvick finished in the top-10 of the end of season standings. In 2014, his inaugural season driving the No. 4 car for Stewart-Haas racing, Harvick took home his first and only Cup Series championship. Harvick is coming off a season in which he won two races and finished 15th in the points standings.
Kevin Harvick Retiring as Highly-Decorated Driver
“There is absolutely nothing else in the world that I enjoy doing more than going to the race track, and I’m genuinely looking forward to this season,” Harvick said, via NASCAR.com. “But as I’ve gone through the years, I knew there would come a day where I had to make a decision. When would it be time to step away from the car? I’ve sought out people and picked their brains. When I asked them when they knew it was the right time, they said it’ll just happen, and you’ll realize that’s the right moment. You’ll make a plan and decide when it’s your last year.
“It’s definitely been hard to understand when that right moment is because we’ve been so fortunate to run well. But sometimes there are just other things going on that become more important and, for me, that time has come.”
Perhaps his most iconic moment came in 2001 while driving for Richard Childress Racing. Harvick was called up from the Xfinity ranks after the death of Dale Earnhardt in that season’s Daytona 500. In just his third start behind the wheel of the No. 29 Chevrolet, Harvick raced his way into victory lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway, edging out Jeff Gordon by 0.006 seconds.
“Looking back on it now, you realize the importance of getting in the Cup car, and then we wound up winning my first race at Atlanta in the 29 car after Dale’s death,” Harvick said. “The significance and the importance of keeping that car on the race track and winning that race early at Atlanta – knowing now what it meant to the sport, and just that moment in general of being able to carry on, was so important.”