Kevin Harvick’s first NASCAR Cup Series victory came in just his third career start and the fourth race of the 2001 season.
After the passing of Dale Earnhardt at Daytona International Speedway a few weeks earlier, Harvick was moved up at Richard Childress Racing as a full-time driver in the premier series.
Harvick started fifth in March’s Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway as drivers strapped in for 325 laps on the 1.54-mile paved track. Dale Jarrett started on the pole. Then, throughout the race, it was really a battle among Jeff Gordon, Dave Blaney and Jarrett as to who had the fastest car.
In the final six laps, though, Harvick led the field, inching his way to the checkered flag lap by lap.
The driver of the No. 29 RCR Chevrolet would ultimately put on a thrilling — yet emotional — show to beat Gordon to the flag by a mere 0.006 seconds.
“All I can say is this one’s for Dale,” Harvick said.
Years later, after his second victory at Atlanta in 2018, Harvick paid tribute to Earnhardt by holding three fingers out the window.
Check out Kevin Harvick’s first NASCAR Cup Series win in this Classic Race Replay of the 2001 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.