Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick has been named the recipient of the NMPA’s Richard Petty Driver of the Year Award for 2014.
The award, which has been presented each year since 1969, is determined by a vote of the National Motorsports Press Association membership.
Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, was presented the trophy by the award’s namesake, seven-time premier series champion Richard Petty, during the annual NMPA Awards Dinner Sunday night at the Embassy Suites in Concord, N.C.
In his first season with SHR, Harvick equaled a career-best five Sprint Cup victories, with wins at Phoenix (twice), Darlington, Charlotte and Homestead. The victory in the season-ending event at the South Florida track secured the title for the Bakersfield, Calif., native.
No other driver captured more poles than Harvick, who started from the No. 1 position eight times, or led more laps (2,137) in 2014.
It is the second time Harvick has been honored with the Richard Petty Driver of the Year award. Elevated to Cup competition following the 2001 death of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, Harvick responded by winning twice and finishing ninth in points in Cup while also winning the Busch (now XFINITY) Series championship.
“You’ve heard me talk about it before, in the end it’s all about people,” Harvick said of his 2014 season. “We were in a fortunate situation where (team owners) Gene (Haas) and Tony (Stewart) said, ‘Alright, you don’t have a budget. Just go out and hire whoever you think you need to hire to make the best team possible.’ Then they built new race cars and every nut and bolt, every (piece) was brand new from top to bottom.
“It’s very rare that you get that situation. Usually when you start a new team you’ve got to mix and blend a lot of stuff from the teams that are already there. It was just a very unique circumstance. In the end, it all boils down to the people; we’re fortunate to have a great organization that has a lot of assets that go with it.”
Harvick received nearly 75 percent of the vote cast by the membership.
Other receiving votes were NASCAR drivers Chase Elliott, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman, along with six-time World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz.
Richard Petty Driver of the Year Recipients
Determined by vote of the membership, the Richard Petty Driver of the Year award has been presented annually since 1969 to recognize the season’s most outstanding driver. It is named in honor of the seven-time NASCAR premier series champion:
2014, Kevin Harvick; 2013, Jimmie Johnson; 2012, Brad Keselowski; 2011, Tony Stewart; 2010, Jimmie Johnson; 2009, Jimmie Johnson; 2008, Carl Edwards; 2007, Jimmie Johnson; 2006, Jimmie Johnson; 2005, Tony Stewart; 2004, Jimmie Johnson; 2003, Ryan Newman; 2002, Tony Stewart; 2001, Kevin Harvick; 2000, Bobby Labonte;
1999, Dale Jarrett; 1998, Jeff Gordon; 1997, Dale Jarrett; 1996, Terry Labonte; 1995, Jeff Gordon; 1994, Dale Earnhardt; 1993, Rusty Wallace; 1992, Davey Allison; 1991, Harry Gant; 1990, Dale Earnhardt; 1989, Mark Martin; 1988, Rusty Wallace;
1987, Dale Earnhardt; 1986, Tim Richmond and Dale Earnhardt; 1985, Bill Elliott; 1984, Terry Labonte; 1983, Bobby Allison; 1982, Darrell Waltrip; 1981, Darrell Waltrip; 1980 Dale Earnhardt; 1979 Cale Yarborough; 1978 Cale Yarborough;
1977, Cale Yarborough; 1976, Darrell Waltrip; 1975, Richard Petty; 1974, Richard Petty; 1973, David Pearson; 1972, Bobby Allison; 1971, Bobby Allison; 1970, Bobby Isaac; 1969, LeeRoy Yarbrough