Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished second in the Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway as well as the final 2015 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup season standings.
Harvick was one of four drivers contending for the championship at Homestead, with his fellow title contenders being Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr. Busch scored the race victory to claim the 2015 Sprint Cup championship.
Harvick led once for 46 laps en route to his 23rd top-five finish this season and his seventh top-five finish in 15 career Sprint Cup starts at Homestead-Miami. The finish was also Harvick’s 28th top-10 of 2015, eclipsing his previous single-season career-best of 26 top-10s in 2010. Harvick led 2,294 laps in 2015, breaking his single-season record of 2,137 laps led in 2014 as he raced to the Sprint Cup championship.
Harvick started 13th, raced his way to the lead by lap 45 and remained the leader until lap 90 when he came to pit road under green-flag conditions for a scheduled four-tire pit stop. He returned to the racetrack in the third position and raced in the top-five for the remainder of the race.
Harvick, running in the fourth position, trailed Busch, who was racing in second at the time, by more than eight seconds when the final caution flag of the night waved for debris on the frontstretch with 10 laps remaining. The leaders came to pit road for service, readying for a seven-lap sprint to the end. Harvick restarted fourth, while Busch restarted second. As the green flag waved, the two competitors charged to the front, taking the first and second positions. Busch pulled away in the closing laps and beat Harvick to the finish line by 1.552 seconds to win the race and the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
“We were just struggling all night, to be honest with you, with our Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevy,” said Harvick, who won the NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway in 2014. “We had a lot of trouble getting up off the corner and putting the power down. And the longer the run went, the looser that we would get up off the corner. We just want to thank everybody: Hendrick Engines, SHR, Outback, Mobil 1, Hunt Brothers and everybody who is a part of this car and who has been supportive of us over the last two years. It’s been a great couple of years, and I’m looking forward to next year. So, it’s fun to be able to run like this. You always want to win, but I’ve learned not to get greedy. After last year, I felt like we had everything go our way, and tonight, it didn’t go our way. But, just congratulations to the No. 18 team and everything they did, and all of our guys – they’ve done a great job all year.”
Harvick’s total of 2,294 laps led in 2015 marks the second time in his 15-year career that he has led 2,000 laps in a single Sprint Cup season. He first accomplished the feat by leading 2,137 laps in 2014. In his two years at SHR (2014-2015) Harvick has led more laps (4,431) than he did in his previous 13 years in the Sprint Cup Series (4,426).
With 13 runner-up finishes in 2015, Harvick became the 10th Sprint Cup driver to score double-digit runner-up finishes in a single season, and the first since Bobby Allison in 1972. Harvick scored his 13th runner-up finish of 2015 Sunday at Homestead-Miami. Combined with its three Sprint Cup wins, the No. 4 team has recorded 16 top-two finishes in 2015.