In a season marked by startling stock car debuts, Busch Series Rookie of the Year Kevin Harvick stood head and shoulders above the rest. The 25-year-old Bakersfield, Calif., native came into the season with a resume that included little...
In a season marked by startling stock car debuts, Busch Series Rookie of the Year Kevin Harvick stood head and shoulders above the rest.
The 25-year-old Bakersfield, Calif., native came into the season with a resume that included little outside of the 1998 Winston West championship. But Harvick's leap to prominence once again proved team owner Richard Childress has few equals when it comes to rating talent.
Childress instituted a Busch Series program in 2000 for son-in-law Mike Dillon, a Busch Series veteran, and Harvick, who quickly made a name for himself with three victories.
Except for missing the second race of the season, Harvick might have put up even more of a challenge to ppc Racing's Jeff Green and Jason Keller, who swept the top two spots in the championship. But Harvick is happy enough to be honored for third position in the standings at the circuit's banquet Friday night in Beverly Hills, Calif.
"It's hard not to think about what would have happened if we had made that race, but it was out of our control," Harvick said of the qualifying failure. "We're pretty satisfied with what we were able to accomplish and we are looking to get after the championship right from the start."
Harvick proved he was a force when he finished fifth in the season-opening event in Daytona. Despite missing the show at Rockingham, N,C., it only took Harvick nine races to get back into the top-10, after he finished 16th at Talladega, Ala.
Harvick warmed up for his inaugural victory with seven top-11 finishes in eight races from May to July, including a career-best second at Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Harvick's breakthrough victory came July 29 at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., where he dominated on the way to winning the 21st of the circuit's 32 events. He added two more Tennessee triumphs in the stretch run, at Bristol and Memphis, and ended up with eight top-5 and 16 top-10 finishes, along with $652,805 in winnings.