Kevin Harvick decided he’s had enough of driving around a beer car 30-plus times a year, and will be retiring from a full-time NASCAR Cup Series career at the end of the season.

Fifteen years ago, it took a few too many beers for Harvick to bring his racing talents to Maine for that year’s Oxford 250, which the 2014 Cup Series champion, who now has Busch as a major car sponsor, won in his lone attempt running the Pine Tree State’s crown-jewel race.

Kevin Harvick celebrates after winning the 2008 TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway on July 21, 2008. Sun Journal file photo

“At that particular time, we were just in the middle of a lot of short-track racing on dirt, and we had our Late Model cars that we ran at the shop, and my crew chief at the time, Shane Wilson, was from that area and talked us into going up and running the race,” Harvick said in an email to the Sun Journal. “We put the whole program together and went up and ran the race. It really all came down to Shane Wilson and his idea to go up and run the race.”

Harvick told the Sun Journal in 2008 that he and Wilson, a South Royalton, Vermont native, concocted the idea over a few too many alcoholic beverages.

Wilson had taken part in some 250s in the 1990s as a crew member, so he knew what the race was all about, but Harvick said this week that he remembered going to Oxford Plains Speedway in 2008 and not knowing exactly what he was getting into.

“We spent a couple of days practicing to get up to speed. I had to have some local help and local knowledge with one of the other competitors helping us with our car,” he said.


Harvick and Wilson said in 2008 that their working relationship also helped get Harvick and the car ready.

He finished second in his heat and started the feature in 11th. To win the title, he had to overcome a trio of future 250 winners. Harvick passed Joey Polewarczyk Jr. (who won the 2012 race) to get into second, then battled Eddie MacDonald (2009, ’10) for the lead just after the halfway point.

In the end, he held off 2015 winner Glen Luce for the victory.

Harvick and Geoff Bodine are the only drivers to win both the Oxford 250 and Daytona 500.

“We had a great time, and we were able to actually be competitive and win the race,” Harvick said this week. “It was a lot of fun — and it rained.”

Yes, Harvick won the race on a Monday, after rain wiped out the feature scheduled for Sunday, July 20.


The win in the 35th Oxford 250 was a bright spot in a year in which the 60-time Cup Series race winner didn’t capture a checkered flag at NASCAR’s top level.

“We won a lot of places other than Cup, but that’s one thing that always fueled the Xfinity program and the Late Model program, was to make up for the shortfalls of the Cup side,” Harvick said. “It was definitely a nice feather in the cap.”

The Oxford 250 was already 34 races old, and had included some all-time great national drivers, when Harvick traveled north to the speedway in 2008, but the then-32-year-old would have flunked a pop quiz on the event’s history.

“For me, I didn’t know much about the history of the race, and when I got there and realized there were a hundred cars, I realized quickly that it was going to be way more competitive than what I had put my mind to,” Harvick said. “After learning about the race and seeing the history and the winners list and everything that has happened in Oxford, it made me realize just how big of a deal it was to actually win the race.”

Harvick said that victory is “definitely pretty high up there” on his list of career short-track achievements.

As he winds down his racing career, he said his 250 win 15 years ago still follows him when he returns to the Northeast.

“I think the part that I love most about going up there and racing, and then going back in that area each year to run at New Hampshire, is seeing the people that were actually at the event that year, seeing some of the competitors that we competed against that always come over and say hello,” Harvick said. “We had a great time and really learned a lot about the area and the significance of the event.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.