Kevin Harvick, a former Winston West champion from Bakersfield, will drive Dale Earnhardt's car today in qualifying and in Sunday's Dura-Lube 400, but it will be a white No. 29, rather than the black No. 3 made famous by Earnhardt. The only direct link to Earnhardt will be its sponsor, GM Goodwrench.
Harvick, 25, had been driving a Busch Grand National car for owner Richard Childress and had planned on running seven Winston Cup races this year to prepare for a full season in 2002.
"Kevin was in our Winston Cup plans when we signed him a couple of years ago," Childress said. "We're just going to have to get him going a little sooner."
Harvick, who has tested Winston Cup cars in the past and drove in a Craftsman Truck race here two years ago, said he hoped no one would expect him to replace Dale Earnhardt just because he will be driving what had been his car.
"No one could replace him, no one ever will," Harvick said. "If you ask me, though, getting his car back on the track is what Dale Earnhardt would want to happen."
The No. 3, which is owned by Childress through 2002, will be parked for the year, he said. NASCAR does not retire numbers, but Childress said any decisions about the number would not be made until next season.
"One thing is for sure, there will never again be a black No. 3 car on the track," Childress said.