HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — Kevin Harvick jostled his 2-year-old son on his lap, egging him on to speak into the microphone and tell the world his daddy was the NASCAR champion.
“Say, ‘We win,’” said Harvick, who beamed during the celebration.
Keelan Harvick clammed up in the moment and stayed quiet.
That’s OK. Kevin Harvick made the only statements needed on the track, making it clear that winning mattered most under NASCAR’s new championship formula and his decision to bolt for buddy Tony Stewart’s race team was indeed the right call.
Harvick staked his claim as the best in Sprint Cup, using a relentless dash through the field in the closing laps to win Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Harvick staved off championship challengers Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano and erased any concern that NASCAR would be stained with a winless champ.
Did the new Chase — one where wins, not playing it safe, promised a better shot at a title — work?
As Harvick took one final spin with his fifth checkered flag of the season, the answer was a resounding yes.
“If you want to win the championship, you’re going to have to figure out how to win races,” Harvick said. “That’s what it came down to, was winning the race.”
Harvick, who had to win last week at Phoenix just to advance into Sunday’s final four, wrapped up his third victory of this Chase and fifth of the season. He leaned this week on Stewart, a three-time champion, and Jimmie Johnson, the six-time champion who moved from California to North Carolina to chase a career in NASCAR about the same time as Harvick made the move east.