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Kevin Harvick returning to #29 for All-Star Race
As Kevin Harvick embarks on his final NASCAR Cup Series season, it was inevitable that he and his Stewart-Haas Racing team recognise his illustrious career at various points. For the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on 21 May, his #4 Ford Mustang will turn back the clock to his rookie year in 2001 as it is renumbered to #29 and sport a livery resembling his GM Goodwrench scheme from that year.
In particular, the livery is a throwback to the 2001 Cracker Barrel Old County Store 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a fitting announcement as the track is hosting the upcoming Cup race, where Harvick edged out eventual champion Jeff Gordon by just .006 of a second for the second closest victory in NASCAR history. Making just his third Cup start, the win was especially emotional as he had taken over the Richard Childress Racing ride after Dale Earnhardt‘s fatal accident in the Daytona 500.
Earnhardt’s car was changed from a black #3 to a white #29 for Harvick, the colour being an inversion while maintaining the Goodwrench sponsorship. #29 was selected as the lowest available.
Harvick would spend thirteen seasons in the #29 RCR car from 2001 to 2013, winning twenty-two races including the 2007 Daytona 500.
“When I sat in the #29 for the first time, it really wasn’t by choice, but I definitely wouldn’t have done it any differently,” Harvick stated. “Dale’s passing changed our sport forever, and it changed my life forever and the direction it took.
“Looking back on it now, I realize the importance of getting in the Cup car, and then I wound up winning my first race at Atlanta in the #29 car after Dale’s death. 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.
“I had a great thirteen years at RCR and really learned a lot through the process because of being thrown into Dale’s car, where my first press conference as a Cup Series driver was the biggest press conference I would ever have in my career, where my first moments were my biggest moments.”
With Goodwrench no longer existent (and the obvious unlikelihood of a Chevrolet brand appearing on a Ford), Anheuser-Busch‘s Busch Light brand will take its place as sponsor on the car. Anheuser-Busch has backed Harvick since his RCR days, first appearing on his Cup cars in 2011 via Budweiser before switching to Busch in 2016. Busch had also sponsored what is now the Xfinity Series until 2007, with Harvick claiming the NASCAR Busch Series championship twice in 2002 and 2006.
“As a proud sponsor, Busch Light has been along for the ride throughout Kevin Harvick’s celebrated career in NASCAR,” commented Busch marketing head Krystyn Stowe. “Kevin’s final All-Star Race is the perfect time for us to revisit a bit of history and bring back the iconic #29 paint scheme with our 2001 logo as the ultimate ‘cheers’ to one of Kevin’s most memorable wins. We’re looking forward to seeing some nostalgia on the track come race day.”
The 2014 champion is a two-time winner of the All-Star Race with wins in 2007 and 2018. May’s race will be the first at North Wilkesboro; coincidentally, Harvick had tested the #29 there in 2010.
One-off number changes at the All-Star are not a new concept. For the 2011 race, Jimmie Johnson switched from #48 to #5 to highlight his sponsor Lowe’s five percent discount deal for card holders and his team-mate Mark Martin, the usual driver of the #5, moved to #25 for a throwback look. Five years later, Kyle Busch raced the #75 to celebrate M&M’s diamond anniversary.
Harvick is currently the Cup Series points leader with three top tens across four races.
“I don’t know the last time the All-Star Race was the most anticipated event of the season,” Harvick said. “Fans are going to show up in droves. North Wilkesboro is a great short track, the asphalt’s worn out, and I think it’s going to be a fantastic event.”
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