HomeSportsNascarWATCH: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Emotionally Recalls Kevin Harvick’s 2001 Win at Atlanta

WATCH: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Emotionally Recalls Kevin Harvick’s 2001 Win at Atlanta

by Jonathan Howard
Kevin Harvick burnout Atlanta 2001
Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/ALLSPORT

It has been 22 years since NASCAR‘s worst day. Kevin Harvick took on an impossible task and somehow came out on top of it. Replacing Dale Earnhardt was never going to be easy. And Harvick didn’t replace him, but he gave fans another hero to cheer for.

As the last season of Kevin Harvick’s career moves along, it is time we revisit his first win. Atlanta, 2001. In what would be one of 60 Cup Series wins, and the first photo finish he ever had, Harvick helped save NASCAR.

In the wake of Dale Sr.’s death, Harvick was the driver that had to step in his shoes. That win at Atlanta is one of the most important ever in the sport. He did it all at 25 years old.

Stewart-Haas Racing put together what might be the best retelling ever of that story.

Hearing RIchard Childress, hearing Dale Earnhardt Jr. – it just puts it all into perspective. NASCAR and RCR especially were hit with a moment no one wanted or saw coming. Thankfully they had the right guy for the job.

Since he first took the wheel of that No. 29 car in 2001, Kevin Harvick made it clear. He can’t be The Intimidator. But he was able to become The Closer.

Kevin Harvick, One Last Ride in 29

That burnout in the No. 29 down the stretch of Atlanta is iconic. The three outside the window with his hand, Kevin Harvick let everyone know that it was going to be okay. For all those folks in the stands and in the pit, and everywhere else – it was going to be okay.

While it has been years since Harvick left the No. 29 car and Richard Childress Racing, he’s going to return. At least to the car. In a deal made between RCR and Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick is making his return to the 29 for the All-Star race at North Wilkesboro.

So, 22 years later, Kevin Harvick comes back to Atlanta. It is a lot different now than it was then. The superspeedway style racing makes this an entirely different track. Could we see another iconic victory from Harvick this weekend?

This retirement tour is far from over. Harvick has a lot more to give and he’s looking for a checkered flag this season. He leads the points standings, why not grab a win this weekend to add to that?