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Stewart-Haas Racing and Harvick announced on Thursday that Harvick will drive a No. 29 Ford in the May 21 inaugural NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway.
The car will feature a “throwback” paint scheme reminiscent of the design which adorned Harvick’s then-No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet when he won his first Cup race on March 11, 2001 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
At the time, it was just Harvick’s third series start with RCR’s No. 3 team which had been rebranded as the No. 29 following driver Dale Earnhardt’s death in a last-lap wreck in the season-opening Daytona 500 two weeks earlier.
On the final lap, Harvick ended up racing side-by-side with Jeff Gordon exiting Turn 4 and to the checkered flag at Atlanta with the rookie edging the now Hall of Famer by a scant 0.006 seconds.
“When I sat in the No. 29 for the first time, it really wasn’t by choice, but I definitely wouldn’t have done it any differently,” Harvick, 47, said. “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 No. 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.”
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Busch Light Ford
Photo by: Gavin Baker / NKP / Motorsport Images
The decision to utilize the No. 29 in a race is part of Harvick’s desire highlight many of special moments of his NASCAR career.
“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,” he said.
“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’s Ford 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 series standings.
Busch Light, the primary partner for Harvick in the All-Star Race, will bring back its logos from that era as well.
Harvick has competed in every All-Star Race since joining the Cup Series in 2001. In 38 starts, he has been on the starting grid for 22 of them, winning twice (2007 and 2018).
This year’s All-Star Race returns to North Wilkesboro – a track that first appeared on the Cup Series schedule in 1949 but has not hosted NASCAR national series competition since 1996.
“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.”