Kevin Harvick Holds Off Ryan Newman To Win Race And Championship At Homestead

Kevin Harvick Holds Off Ryan Newman To Win Race And Championship At Homestead

by November 16, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

HOEMSTEAD, Fla. – After trying for 13 years, Kevin Harvick finally captured his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship on Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway as he held off Ryan Newman for the win in the Ford EcoBoost 400.

Harvick made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in 2001 at Rockingham Speedway and competed for Richard Childress Racing from that day, until the end of the 2013 season. In a bold move, he took a chance and joined Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 season, and since the team rolled into Phoenix International Raceway for the second race of the season, they’ve earned five wins, eight poles and set six track qualifying records.

“To come in here and be able to have that experience and guidance as a driver, I’ve never really looked at — you’ve been frustrated in some of the situations, but as we’ve raced the cars and experienced the situations, I just feel like this format was made for us this year because of the fact that we had to build a new team,” Harvick said. “We made some mistakes along the way. I don’t think any of us ever dreamed of making all those mistakes in front of the world, leading races and the things that we were doing. But in the end I feel like it all built up to this moment to be able to experience and handle the things that we did today”

When the teams made their way through the tunnel at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, the championship battle was down to four drivers; Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman. Harvick was the favorite heading into the event, but Joey Logano matched Harvick’s four wins prior to Sunday’s race. Denny Hamlin entered the weekend as the defending race winner, and Ryan Newman was looking to pull off the upset.

Kevin Harvick started fifth, but by Lap 15, he powered his way to the race lead. Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano quickly made their appearance in the top-five, but it was Ryan Newman who was mired outside of the top-10 for the majority of the race. At the halfway mark, it was Kevin Harvick leading the field, while Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman were third, fourth and fifth respectively.

Following a restart with only 25 laps to go, Harvick, Hamlin, Newman and Logano were all nose-to-tail fighting hard for the championship. A debris caution on Lap 249 sent all of the leaders on pit road except for championship contender, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon. Ryan Newman’s crew put two fresh tires on his car, while Kevin Harvick and crew chief, Rodney Childers played it safe taking four tires. During the pit stops, Joey Logano’s car fell off the jack, and he went from sixth, all the way back to the tail end of the field, solidifying his championship demise.

“It was a heck of a race up there,” Logano said. “I screwed up and hit the wall early and we were able to recover then had the mistake on pit road which didn’t give us enough time to recover from that. It is unfortunate. Execution was our strong point all year and we just didn’t do it tonight. For that reason we finished fourth after I think we scored the most points this whole Chase. We finished fourth in a season I feel we had a great championship run going. At the same time, we can’t hold our heads down. It is frustrating after all that to say you finished fourth when I feel like this team deserved a lot better.”

The field took the green flag with 15 laps to go, but the caution quickly came out when J.J. Yeley and Joey Gase crashed in Turn 4. Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman led the field to the green flag with nine laps to go. Kevin Harvick was sixth, and Joey Logano was mired back in 29th after visiting pit road. As the field exited Turn 4 to complete Lap 260, Denny Hamlin slid up the track and opened the door for Kevin Harvick to inherit the race lead. However, not long after Harvick took over the top spot, the caution came out for Blake Koch’s grille piece laying on the track.

“I knew I needed to get a bunch of them (positions),” Harvick said. “I was fortunate to start on the outside. The seas kind of parted there as I came off of Turn 2 and was about to get four or five of them; I don’t really know but it was time to go for broke at that particular point. When the next caution came out, we were fortunate enough again to line up on the outside. That was pretty much what we needed – to get the run on the outside down the backstretch.”

For the final time, the green flag flew with only three laps remaining. Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin restarted first, second and third. Joey Logano restarted in 24th. Harvick and Newman took off, but it was Hamlin who slipped and had to immediately play defense before being swallowed up by the pack.

“Championship effort,” Hamlin said. “It wasn’t for a lack of trying. I thought we had a better car than those guys, just I had a bad restart and lost position to the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and Darian (Grubb, crew chief) made the decision to leave us out there on tires trying to do something to get that track position back that I lost on the restart and it just didn’t work out for us. With all of those cautions it just allowed all of those guys to close back up and it was kind of all she wrote for us. It’s just one of those things.”

In the end, Harivck held off Newman for the title. Harvick led 54 laps en route to the victory, but that clutch of a performance was expected by the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet team. It was Newman who put on a true Cinderella performance. With no wins this season, he just wasn’t the favorite heading into the weekend, but after struggling outside of the top-10 all night and then racing his way into the second position, he and his crew chief, Luke Lambert were just a few moments away from earning their first championship.

“Restarts haven’t been my strong suit with the package that we run, so a little bit tough,” Newman said. “I thought about hauling it in there wide open under Kevin (Harvick) but that wasn’t the right thing to do. I wouldn’t have wanted him to do that to me. Just a great year for us, for our Caterpillar, Quicken Loans, WIX Filters Kwikset team. I have to thank Chevrolet, Sprint, everyone at Coca Cola. It’s been an amazing year. They say you have to lose one before you can win one. I’m really to win one now.”

Denny Hamlin finished seventh, and Joey Logano had a disappointing 16th place finish. Both drivers had an impressive season. Throughout the season, Hamlin earned one win, along with seven top-five and 18 top-10 finishes. Logano had a career-high of five wins, accompanied by 16 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes.

Kyle Larson won Rookie of the Year honors, following his 13th place finish on Sunday night.

“I think just being competitive and challenging for top-fives and top-10’s most every week has been really good.” Larson said. There are a lot of moments that stand out, a lot of heartbreak moments as well. We will come back next season peel the rookie stripes off and try and go out there and win a race and get into the Chase and do what Kevin Harvick did tonight.”

Chevrolet not only had a driver win the championship, but they won their 12th consecutive manufacturers championship, as well. Drivers piloting Chevrolets this season amassed 20 victories. Chevrolet has an overall of 38 manufactures championships.

NASCAR’s latest Chase for the Sprint Cup format certainly kept emotions high this season. At Charlotte Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, frustration led to tempers boiling over and that all resulted in teams fighting each other. In Phoenix, Kevin Harvick won the race to advance to the Championship Round, and Ryan Newman put Kyle Larson in the wall to punch his ticket to the final round, as well. Then, once the checkered flag fell in Homestead, the series say a driver-crew chief combo earn their first career title with a brand new team. This year’s edition of NASCAR’s playoff showcased it all, and Sunday night’s race will go down in history as one of the most competitive championship battles of all-time.

Ford EcoBoost 400 Results:
1.) #4 Kevin Harvick
2.) #31 Ryan Newman
3.) #2 Brad Keselowski
4.) #27 Paul Menard
5.) #1 Jamie McMurray
6.) #20 Matt Kenseth
7.) #11 Denny Hamlin
8.) #15 Clint Bowyer
9.) #48 Jimmie Johnson
10.) #24 Jeff Gordon
11.) #41 Kurt Busch
12.) #5 Kasey Kahne
13.) #42 Kyle Larson
14.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
15.) #51 Justin Allgaier
16.) #22 Joey Logano
17.) #78 Martin Truex Jr.
18.) #10 Danica Patrick
19.) #43 Aric Almirola
20.) #13 Casey Mears
21.) #95 Michael McDowell
22.) #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
23.) #55 Brian Vickers
24.) #36 Reed Sorenson
25.) #3 Austin Dillon
26.) #26 Cole Whitt
27.) #9 Marcos Ambrose
28.) #33 Brian Scott
29.) #40 Landon Cassill
30.) #34 David Ragan
31.) #38 David Gilliland
32.) #98 Josh Wise
33.) #23 Alex Bowman
34.) #99 Carl Edwards
35.) #7 Michael Annett
36.) #66 Brett Moffitt
37.) #83 JJ Yeley
38.) #32 Blake Koch
39.) #18 Kyle Busch
40.) #47 AJ Allmendinger
41.) #16 Greg Biffle
42.) #21 Trevor Bayne
43.) #14 Tony Stewart

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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