By Ben White
Kevin Harvick, driving the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, collected five wins, 20 top-10 finishes and eight pole positions to secure his first NASCAR Cup Series championship in his 14th season.
A star in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Richard Childress Racing, Harvick was promoted to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2001 to fill the void created by the death of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt during the final lap of the Daytona 500.
Harvick departed RCR at the end of the 2013 schedule with 22 victories and his best points finishes being third-place efforts in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Harvick joined Stewart-Haas Racing and team owners Tony Stewart and Gene Hass in 2014 with hopes of finally claiming a Cup Series championship. By season’s end, his wish had come true.
Harvick and new crew chief Rodney Childers could easily relate to one another and had great chemistry that showed on the race track.
Early season wins at Phoenix and Darlington foreshadowed the season to come as Harvick became a regular among the top 5 in the points.
The native of Bakersfield, California, ended a 23-race drought at Charlotte when he finally won there during the playoffs. He followed that with a second-place run at Texas Motor Speedway and a victory at Phoenix Raceway to earn a spot among NASCAR’s new winner-take-all, Championship 4 format at the final race in Homestead, Florida.
Harvick won the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, giving him the title over Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet, by a single point.
It was the second closest point margin in Cup Series history. In 2011, Stewart and Carl Edwards tied in points with Stewart being crowned champion by virtue of having more wins.
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Brad Keselowski, driving the No. 2 Team Penske Dodge, won six races and notched 20 top-10 results in 36 races. The Rochester Hills, Michigan, racer headed all other drivers in the win column with five victories – superspeedway wins at Las Vegas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Chicago and Talladega and one short-track triumph at Richmond Raceway. His hopes of a second title were derailed, however, when he failed to earn a spot in the Championship 4.
The intensity among the Championship 4 drivers – Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano – during the season finale on Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway was off the charts. When the dust settled, Harvick had won both the battle and the war, as Newman was unable to mount a late-race challenge and came up one position short of the title. Harvick started fifth and led 54 of the 267 laps.
Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet visited Victory Lane five times and had 20 top-10 finishes in 36 starts.
Ryan Newman’s No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet went winless during the season but notched 16 top-10 results.
2014 Season Recap
DATE | LOCATION | WINNER
Feb. 23 | Daytona International Speedway | Dale Earnhardt Jr.
March 2 | Phoenix Raceway | Kevin Harvick
March 9 | Las Vegas Motor Speedway | Brad Keselowski
March 16 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Carl Edwards
March 23 | Auto Club Speedway | Kyle Busch
March 30 | Martinsville Speedway | Kurt Busch
April 7 | Texas Motor Speedway | Joey Logano
April 12 | Darlington Raceway | Kevin Harvick
April 26 | Richmond Raceway | Joey Logano
May 4 | Talladega Superspeedway | Denny Hamlin
May 10 | Kansas Speedway | Jeff Gordon
May 25 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Jimmie Johnson
June 1 | Dover Motor Speedway | Jimmie Johnson
June 8 | Pocono Raceway | Dale Earnhardt Jr.
June 15 | Michigan International Speedway | Jimmie Johnson
June 22 | Sonoma Raceway | Carl Edwards
June 28 | Kentucky Speedway | Brad Keselowski
July 6 | Daytona International Speedway | Aric Almirola
July 13 | New Hampshire Motor Speedway | Brad Keselowski
July 27 | Indianapolis Motor Speedway | Jeff Gordon
Aug. 3 | Pocono Raceway | Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Aug. 10 | Watkins Glen International | A.J. Allmendinger
Aug. 17 | Michigan International Speedway | Jeff Gordon
Aug. 23 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Joey Logano
Aug. 31 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Kasey Kahne
Sept. 6 | Richmond Raceway | Brad Keselowski
Sept. 14 | Chicagoland Speedway | Brad Keselowski
Sept. 21 | New Hampshire Motor Speedway | Joey Logano
Sept. 28 | Dover Motor Speedway | Jeff Gordon
Oct. 5 | Kansas Speedway | Joey Logano
Oct. 11 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Kevin Harvick
Oct. 19 | Talladega Superspeedway | Brad Keselowski
Oct. 26 | Martinsville Speedway | Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Nov. 2 | Texas Motor Speedway | Jimmie Johnson
Nov. 9 | Phoenix Raceway | Kevin Harvick
Nov. 16 | Homestead-Miami Speedway | Kevin Harvick