Another week, more NASCAR history. We spent last week remembering the ties between Austin Dillon’s victory at Daytona to Dale Earnhardt. One week later, Kevin Harvick earns a victory at Atlanta reminding us once again of NASCAR history.
Longtime fans remember that immediately following the death of Dale Earnhardt at the 2001 Daytona 500, Richard Childress Racing brought in a kid from Oildale, California named Kevin Harvick to be his successor. Such enormous shoes to fill. Partly out of respect, and partly to lessen the pressure- RCR changed the number on the 3 to 29, and they reversed colors on the paint scheme for the Goodwrench Chevrolet.
On the third race of the season, the rookie Kevin Harvick scored a victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the first of his career. Aware of what it meant to Earnhardt fans, Harvick stuck three fingers out the window of his car on the victory lap out of respect for Earnhardt.
Fast forward 17 years, and one week after the 3 wins at Daytona, Kevin Harvick earns a victory at Atlanta. It was just any victory. It was a dominant win for the man who now makes his bones driving for Stewart-Haas Racing. Even with a miscue on pit road, there was no doubt the 4 team was poised for victory.
It kind of makes you wonder what’s next the season. It’s hard to say, but it is safe to say that Kevin Harvick has established himself as a prime contender for a second NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series championship. Sure it’s early, but try to think of a time when Harvick hasn’t been a weekly presence towards the front. We’ll see, but I wouldn’t go against him. It seems like more than anything, it’s a matter of making sure the pit crew isn’t a drag on his success. He’ll be there.