Harvick to Race No. 29 Ford Mustang at NASCAR All-Star Race

Rendering of the Busch-sponsored No. 29 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang - courtesy SHR
Rendering of the Busch-sponsored No. 29 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang – courtesy SHR

Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is saluting Kevin Harvick, who intends to make the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season his final one as a driver.

When the series returns to the small and tight legendary speedway in North Wilkesboro NC for the 39th edition of NASCAR’s All-Star Race, Kevin Harvick won’t be in the No. 4 Ford Mustang he has piloted since joining SHR in 2014; rather he’ll revert to the No. 29 used when the Californian first entered the Cup Series.

Harvick’s initial step into Cup Series competition came in a most uncomfortable manner. Shortly after the death of the series’ legendary star, Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress Racing (RCR) tabbed the 1999 [then] Busch Series Rookie of the Year to race for the saddened squad, albeit not in Earnhardt’s regaled No. 3 Chevrolet. Rather, Harvick would compete in the No. 29 for RCR. Childress’ faith in the Bakersfield boy paid off almost instantly, as Harvick won his third NASCAR Cup Series race for the legendary team.

That first victory for Harvick took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 11, 2001. A total of 59 added wins make Harvick No. 10 on NASCAR’s all-time winner’s list, giving his current team, SHR, the impetus to produce a special car for this special race, scheduled for May 21st. Not only will the team revert to the No. 29 for Harvick’s final All-Star race, but his Ford Mustang will sport throwback colors used in that initial victory at Atlanta’s oval track.

After being hired by RCR, Harvick’s first race took place at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, where he started 36th, ran 51 laps but had to wait through a rain-out to earn a solid 14th place result the next day. From there, Harvick went to Las Vegas, married his wife DeLana and returned to race that weekend, in both the [now] Xfinity and Cup Series contests in Las Vegas. The following week saw him victorious at Atlanta and entrenched him in Cup Series lore.

Kevin Harvick has raced for two teams in NASCAR’s Cup Series – Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing – Anne Proffit photo at Auto Club Speedway in February

“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 explained. “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 racetrack 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,” he revealed. “I had a great 13 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.”

Harvick’s Ford Mustang for the All-Star Race will be white and feature the red stylized No. 29 that he drove throughout 2001 when he finished ninth in the championship standings, thanks to his Atlanta win and a second July 15th victory at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL. Busch Light, the primary partner for Harvick in the All-Star Race, will bring back its logos from that era, completing the early aughts look of Harvick’s ride in the All-Star Race.

“With this being my last year as a Cup Series driver, we wanted to highlight a lot of these moments,” Harvick explained, “and many were made at RCR in that No. 29 car. So, with the All-Star Race going to North Wilkesboro – a place with a ton of history – we thought it made sense in a year full of milestones and moments, to highlight where it all started.”

Harvick has competed in every All-Star Race since he began racing in the Cup Series. In 38 previous iterations of this race, Harvick has been on the grid for 22 of them, taking victories in 2007 and 2018. Returning to North Wilkesboro, which was a Cup Series track from 1949 – but largely dormant since the final Cup Series start on the .625-mile on Sept. 29, 1996 when Jeff Gordon took the final checkered flag over Dale Earnhardt, this change of number and color selections feels natural for the team, driver and sponsor.

Harvick’s primary sponsor for the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race is Anheuser-Busch’s Busch Light beer – courtesy SHR

“As a proud sponsor, Busch Light has been along for the ride throughout Kevin Harvick’s celebrated career in NASCAR,” noted Krystyn Stowe, head of marketing for Busch Family Brands at Anheuser-Busch. “Kevin’s final All-Star Race is the perfect time for us to revisit a bit of [his] history and bring back the iconic No. 29 paint scheme with our 2001 logo as the ultimate ‘cheers’ to one of Kevin’s most memorable wins.”

“I don’t know the last time the All-Star Race was the most anticipated event of the season,” Harvick mused. “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.”

Stewart-Haas Racing’s marketing arm is offering a full line of merchandise, including die cast replicas of the No. 29 Busch Light Ford Mustang, together with t-shirts and a variety of hard goods that include flags, coozies and decals, the team said.

 

About Anne Proffit 1039 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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