|Kevin Harvick was thrust into the national spotlight when he was
named to drive the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet for
Richard Childress Racing following the death of Dale Earnhardt in the
2001 season opening Daytona 500.
Harvick was named to drive the car beginning with the second race of
the season at Rockingham and he continued his quest for the
NASCAR Busch Series championship at the same time. Harvick proved
he was special by winning in only his third Winston Cup start, and he
put the exclamation point to that statement with the Busch Series title
in only his second season, following 2000's NBS Rookie of the Year
Harvick also won the 2001 Winston Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year
Award and finished ninth in the point standings after winning another
race, the Chicagoland Speedway inaugural, and posting six top-five
and 16 top-10 finishes. He had only one DNF in 35 starts.
Harvick's Busch success, which included five wins and five Bud Poles in
his championship season, no doubt played a part in Childress'
decision to move Harvick to Winston Cup. Harvick was part of the
three-rookie onslaught that stormed the top 10 in the Busch Series in
2000, but the Bakersfield, Calif., driver's impact was the most
dramatic. Harvick enjoyed one of the best rookie seasons in Busch
Series history, posting three wins and earning rookie of the year
honors while finishing third in the standings.
If not for missing the second race of the season, Harvick's impact
might've been even greater. The driver for RCR's first-year Busch
team set a rookie record for most driver points earned (4,113) and
tied the rookie record for wins.
Harvick, who won the 1998 NASCAR Winston West championship, also
spent a couple winless seasons in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck
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