Kevin Harvick will retire from full-time NASCAR racing after the 2023 season

Kevin Harvick, the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion, announced Thursday morning that the 2023 season will be his last as a full-time driver. Athleticism reported Wednesday that his announcement was scheduled for Thursday.

“It is time to call time. Enjoying all that we have achieved as a racing team and savoring it with those who have made this journey possible,” Harvick said in video on social media. “A new chapter is opening. The one where being a dad and a husband takes precedence over being a driver. But that chapter is still a year away. There is still to write. »

The next NASCAR season, which officially begins Feb. 19 with the Daytona 500, will be Harvick’s 23rd as a competitor in NASCAR’s premier series and his 10th with Stewart-Haas Racing.

When Harvick, 47 and the oldest full-time active driver at Cup level, would retire has been a question often asked over the past few years and a source of much speculation. He admitted in December that he was considering retirement after the 2023 season.

“Right now, I’ll know that answer before I get to Daytona,” Harvick said when asked Dec. 1 if he could retire. “I don’t really have a clear answer on that right now. I think coming to Daytona I know 100% that we’re going to have a direction because I’m not going to start the season without knowing that direction. Just because there’s just a lot of layers to unfold and really go through and assess. So we’ll see. I think it could go either way at this particular point.

“We’re at a point where everyone needs to know what’s going on,” Harvick continued. “There are too many tentacles in everything that’s going on, whether it’s the race team, the driver management company, every bit of it has to be known. It’s not fair for anyone to have to start the season without knowing it.

Harvick started racing in the Cup Series in 2001 when Richard Childress Racing named him as an immediate replacement for the late Dale Earnhardt, who was killed in the Daytona 500 the previous week. Harvick won two races that season and earned Rookie of the Year honors. He drove for RCR throughout the 2013 season before leaving to join SHR, part-owned by good friend Tony Stewart.

Since his alignment with SHR, Harvick has enjoyed a high level of consistency that had been largely absent during his tenure at RCR. He won the Cup championship in his first season with the organization and advanced to the final round of the championship playoff in 2014, ’15, ’17, ’18 and ’19. His 37 wins over that span led all drivers, while his 60 career wins overall tied with Kyle Busch for ninth place all-time.

Harvick won two races in 2022 and again qualified for the playoffs for a 12th consecutive season. His first win came at Michigan International Speedway in August, which ended a 65-race winless streak. He won again the following week at Richmond Raceway.

Harvick enters the season just 10 starts away from reaching 800 career starts, which only nine other drivers have accomplished.

What exactly is next for Harvick beyond driving is unknown. The entertainment management agency he founded, Kevin Harvick Inc., represents Cup drivers Harrison Burton, Ryan Preece and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., in addition to various MMA fighters, professional golfers and entertainment artists, and his involvement in the company is expected to continue. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see Harvick expand his role on the television side where his work as a broadcaster for Fox Sports has earned him much acclaim.

Harvick’s departure creates a vacancy at SHR, one of NASCAR’s premier organizations. The team is not expected to name its replacement on Thursday.

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(Photo: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today)

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