Kevin Harvick – The deserving winner

 Kevin Harvick – The deserving winner

Kevin Harvick was the fastest driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series the entire season, and he was fastest again at Homestead-Miami Speedway when it mattered most.

Harvick drove his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet to victory in the Ford EcoBoost 400, seizing the lead with eight laps remaining to win not only the final race of the 2014 Sprint Cup season but the Sprint Cup championship itself.

After 10 months of speculation, analysis and criticism, the revised, elimination-style Chase for the Sprint Cup format actually produced the thrilling, winner-takes-all finale that NASCAR had brought about and hoped for.

A deserving winner was what they got.

Harvick, 38, won his first Sprint Cup title in his 14th season of competition. He crossed this milestone by leaving his comfortable longtime home at Richard Childress Racing, accepting an offer to drive for his friend Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing.

Harvick dominated the Cup series' "laps led" category, but for a variety of reasons, he wasn't able to find his way back to Victory Lane until the October race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After that, the Budweiser team packed the kick of a Clydesdale, scoring another crucial win at Phoenix to qualify for the Championship Round at Homestead.

What made the win even more worthwhile is that the challengers were the likes of Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin who led five times for 50 laps, running in front as late as Lap 259 of 267, and Ryan Newman from RCR, pushed Harvick all the way to the checkered flag.

After all the scrutiny that went into the new elimination-style Chase, everything worked out perfectly in the end for NASCAR.

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