This evening in Miami Homestead racetrack in the last NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the year, Kevin Harvick won a hard fought race and also held off fellow NASCAR Chase finalists Denny "Hambone" Hamlin, Joey Logano & "Flyin" Ryan Newman.
This year was the first of the elimination process within the 10 race Chase playoff format. Now this new playoff system (this was the latest change in the 10 year history of the Chase), was supposed to reward wins and not just consistency of drivers who finish near the top but don't win a lot of races.
Kevin Harvick did have five wins but he was tied for second in wins (with fellow finalist Joey Logano), but Brad Keselowski who didn't make the final four in Chase had six wins. Also with four wins were three of the four drivers from Hendrick Motorsports, fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr, six time champion Jimmie Johnson and three champion Jeff Gordon, again none of who made the final four in Chase.
But among the finalists were win less Ryan Newman and single win Denny Hamlin, now if you remember the whole reason the Chase was started 10 years ago was to not have a repeat of the 2003 season when Matt Kenseth won a title with one early season win (Las Vegas), so this system needs to be changed again, so that its not just okay to have a bunch of top fives and top ten finishes and not reward the drivers for making the effort to win races.
But back to our newest champion Kevin Harvick, he did win three of the last six races including the last two and he has put in the work in his 14 year Nascar Spring Cup career. He is only the third person to win both a lower level Nationwide title (2001 & 2006), and win a Sprint Cup title Brad Keselowski & Bobby Labonte are the others.
He was also rookie of the year in both the Nationwide Series (2000), and Sprint Cup (2001), and it was in that 2001 season that he had the incredible job of replacing the late great Dale Earnhardt Sr after his death at the 2001 Daytona 500. Kevin stepped in and the car was changed from the iconic # 3 to # 29 and just in his third race in Atlanta Motor Speedway he won his first race. He then won his second race here at the inaugural race at Chicagoland Speedway (and repeated the next year with a victory as well), and was named rookie of the year.
Kevin has enjoyed a stellar career, especially this one, his first for Stewart-Haas racing (partially owned by three time NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart but engines and chassis supplied by Hendrick Motorsports), and previously for Richard Childress racing. For this year alone, Kevin had (in addition to his five wins), 20 top ten finishes, eight poles (starting the race first), and left over 2,100 laps of racing which was first among all drivers this year.
For his career on Sprint Cup, Kevin has 28 wins, 229 top 10 finishes, 114 top five finishes, 14 poles and has lead over 5,000 laps of racing.
Kevin has also had a great career while often simultaneously racing in the Nationwide Series with 44 wins, 236 top ten finishes and and 25 poles. I had the opportunity to be at his latest Nationwide win here at Chicagoland Speedway and was fortunate enough to be in victory lane (pictured), when he was awarded the race.
And yes Kevin has also had a long history with the Camping World Truck series (even owning a truck team for several years), and has 14 wins, 61 top 10 finishes and four poles.
So it was a great season for Kevin Harvick and now can put a championship trophy next to the rest of his long list of NASCAR accomplishments.
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