KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is helping to turn back the clock this weekend at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, site of the Southern 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Instead of the standard Busch Beer livery that Harvick has run several times in 2016, his No. 4 Chevrolet will feature the paint scheme that NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough drove during the 1979 and 1980 premier series seasons as part of Darlington’s “The Tradition Returns” weekend.
Yarborough drove the iconic Busch Beer paint scheme in one of the most significant races in NASCAR history – the 1979 Daytona 500. With most of the eastern part of the United States covered in snow thanks to massive winter storms, millions tuned in to watch the race, which was the first 500-mile NASCAR race televised in its entirety.
The 1979 Daytona 500 featured intense racing and an incredible finish that resulted in a brawl following the checkered flag. On the final lap, race leaders Yarborough and Donnie Allison collided on the backstretch. Neither driver was able to finish the race, opening the door for Richard Petty, who trailed by nearly a half lap at the time of the incident, to win his sixth Daytona 500.
As Petty made his way to victory lane, a fight broke out between Yarborough, Donnie Allison and Bobby Allison inside of turn three where the cars came to rest in the infield following the on-track collision. The live television broadcast caught both the finish and the fight and NASCAR gained national publicity.
Yarborough drove the No. 11 Busch Beer car for the entire 1979 and 1980 seasons. He went on to score 10 wins, 38 top-five finishes, 44 top-10s, 15 poles and led 4,130 laps over the 62-race span.
While Harvick will drive a No. 4 Chevrolet honoring the history of his sponsor Busch Beer, he is looking to score his second Sprint Cup win at the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval.
In 2014, Harvick won the 65th running of the iconic Southern 500 – one of the crown jewels on the 36-race Sprint Cup schedule – in dominating fashion. He started from the pole and led 238 of 374 laps en route to beating runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the finish line by .558 of a second.
The win at Darlington was the second of Harvick’s five Sprint Cup wins during his championship season.
With only two races remaining before the start of the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, Harvick would like to add his third Sprint Cup win of the season at Darlington Sunday night. He scored his first of the year in the season’s fourth race at Phoenix International Raceway, and his second two weeks ago in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Harvick clinched his spot in the Chase field with his fourth-place finish Aug. 1 in the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, securing a Chase spot for the 10th time in his career. He only needs to attempt to qualify for the remaining two regular-season races to make his playoff status official.
While Harvick and the No. 4 team are locked into the Chase field by points and wins, gaining bonus points for additional wins is now their top priority through the next two races, starting this weekend at Darlington.
Is it exciting and fun to go to Darlington for the throwback weekend?
“Not only is it exciting to see NASCAR go back to Darlington and participate in all the throwback stuff, I think it’s an honor to drive a car that is iconic in our sport, and Cale Yarborough has been such a huge part of our sport. The NASCAR fans have been very receptive to the Busch brand and their heritage to the sport. Bringing some of that back to the throwback weekend at Darlington is fun to be a part of.”
Were you a Cale Yarborough fan growing up?
“I grew up in an Earnhardt house, mainly because of my dad. But, I think when you look back, Cale, David Pearson, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt and a lot of these guys paved the way for where our sport is today with the battles they went through in their day and age. It’s different now, but it’s still the same – it’s just a different group of drivers. Those are the guys everyone watched, learned from and watched as our sport grew into what it is today. They’re such a big part of our history and it’s been a lot of fun to see everyone honor them with these throwback paint schemes. It’s just become a lot of fun to go to Darlington.”
Did you have any input on the Busch Beer throwback paint scheme?
“I was pretty set in that we were going to have gold wheels on the Busch Beer retro car. You can’t just jump in the pool and get half wet. I think it’s one of those situations where, if you’re going to participate in something like this, you have to participate all the way. To see that car as close to what it was is pretty cool. Busch has been very open to wanting to know about things and how they think about things. This was their idea. They have such a strong team of people who take an idea and run with it. Once you tell them you’re good with something, they are all in. It’s fun to be a part of a program that activates like that.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine