Kevin Harvick will be retiring from NASCAR Cup Series competition at the end of the 2023 season and Texas Motor Speedway officials have been waiting the many months since that announcement to send “Happy” Harvick off with a fitting tribute before his final laps at The Great American Speedway in Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400.
The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion talked with and answered questions from the hundreds of Harvick fans who came to see their favorite driver in the speedway’s Grand Ballroom.
Harvick was then presented a number of gifts by Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith, Texas Motor Speedway Executive Vice President & General Manager Mark Faber and Texas Motor Speedway Vice President of Events and Speedway Motorsports Director of Events Kenton Nelson. Smith presented him with a key to Texas Motor Speedway, Faber handed in a long-horn steer skull with Harvick’s No. 4 Busch Light paint scheme and Nelson handed him a proclamation signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. The event was hosted by PRN’s Brad Gillie.
“Marcus was a big piece of why I came back and drove this year just because of the fact that he explained why it was important to come back and celebrate with the fans,” said Harvick. “It gives everyone kind of an opportunity to go for the last time to the race track.
“Texas has been just a great race track for us through the years and being able to know that every time we used to step foot in here in an Xfinity car, you were expected to win the race. We finally broke that barrier on the Cup side after so many shortfalls. So, it’s fun, especially at a place like this where you’ve been fortunate to have had success.”
Harvick at Texas has earned three NASCAR Cup Series victories, five NASCAR Xfinity Series victories and one NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series victory in 63 total starts. His Cup wins came in consecutive years (2017, 2018, 2019) and three of his five Xfinity wins came in consecutive years (2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012). His lone Truck Series win came in 2011.
He reached the NASCAR Playoffs in this final season despite not winning a race in the regular season but was eliminated after the first round. He now has seven races remaining to capture a 2023 win after going winless in only four of the previous 22 seasons (2004, 2008, 2009, 2021).
The NASCAR Playoffs weekend will be highlighted by the NASCAR Xfinity Series Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 on Saturday, Sept. 23 (2:30 p.m. CT on USA Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90, and PRN), and the NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 on Sunday, Sept. 24 (2:30 p.m. CT on USA Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90, PRN, and 95.9 The Ranch-local). Country Music stars LOCASH will perform Sunday’s pre-race concert at 12:30 p.m. CT on the Machinery Auctioneers Pre-Race Stage located at the start/finish line.
Texas Motor Speedway’s always-busy events schedule is well under way. Upcoming events in 2023 include: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 NASCAR Playoffs weekend (Sept. 23-24), Goodguys’ Summit Racing Lone Start Nationals (Sept. 29-Oct. 1), Speedway Children’s Charities Smoke Show (Oct. 11) and Gordy’s Hwy 30 Music Fest (Oct. 19-22). The year wraps up with the family-favorite and speedway tradition Gift of Lights holiday light show.
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