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No. 7: Harvick Earns Third Brickyard Victory

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of a series of 10 vignettes in which IMS Senior Communications Manager Paul Kelly picks his top 10 moments of 2020 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kevin Harvick earned membership to an exclusive club at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 5, joining Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson as the only drivers to win the Brickyard 400 at least three times.

It was only fitting that Harvick became the third member of that club. Like five-time winner Gordon and four-time winner Johnson, he grew up in California watching the Indianapolis 500 before heading down the NASCAR road. Harvick is a native of Bakersfield, California, also the home of four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears, and he idolized Mears as a young racer.

But this third win also had perhaps a bit more meaning and emotion for Harvick than the first two.

His first victory came in 2003, just two years after he took over the seat in one of Richard Childress Racing’s Chevrolets after the death of icon Dale Earnhardt. Harvick was young, brash and talented, and he may have expected that victory to start a run of more trips to Victory Lane at the Brickyard.

That didn’t happen, as Johnson and Gordon dominated the race for the next 15 years, with six victories between them.

Harvick finally broke through with his second Brickyard victory in 2019. Much had changed in the 16 years between his two wins. He had become a Cup Series champion in 2014. He became a father of two children. He also had moved to Stewart-Haas Racing, co-owned by two-time Brickyard winner Tony Stewart.

But Harvick’s win this year in the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at the Brickyard may have been the most memorable of all three. He drove away from fellow veteran Matt Kenseth during a two-lap overtime finish, winning by .743 of a second in the No. 4 Busch Light Patriotic Ford.

The win took place before no fans, as COVID-19 health restrictions prevented spectators from attending. But that didn’t erase the fact that “Happy” Harvick became just the third three-time winner of this NASCAR crown jewel and the first back-to-back winner of the race since Kyle Busch in 2015 and 2016.

It also wasn’t lost on Harvick that this win continued his incredible magic carpet ride of 2020, as he won a career-best nine races. Not bad for a guy who was in his 20th season in the Cup Series.

“It’s the Brickyard, man,” Harvick said. “This is what I grew up wanting to do as a kid, win at the Brickyard. And to be able to come here and have won for the third time is something I could have never dreamed of.”

But there’s no Field of Dreams in global racing quite like IMS. And with the Cup Series race at IMS shifting to the road course in 2021, who’s going to bet against Harvick adding a fourth win?

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