Monday, November 17, 2014

I'm sort of okay with Kevin Harvick winning it all in 2014

For those of you who missed it, Kevin Harvick won yesterday's final race, making him the champion. He had to finish in the top spot among the four finalists, and instead won the race outright. He gave a shout-out to Jimmie Johnson afterwards for helping him mentally during the week. As I've written earlier this month, the NASCAR championship format change was a real drag on those of us who like results, and not randomness, to decide the champion. Brian France made the change to put more emphasis on winning and winning at key times, but Ryan Newman came very close to clinching the title without having any wins (yesterday could have been his first win, he came in second-- his single highest finish of the season).Sagarin's results look like this:

                        RATING  1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th  6-10 11-20 RACES  HI  LO
 1 Jeff Gordon           84.61    4   8   0   1   1     9     7    36   1  39
 2 Brad Keselowski       82.89    6   4   5   2   0     3     7    36   1  39
 3 Joey Logano           80.20    5   0   2   7   3     5     9    36   1  40
 4 Kevin Harvick         79.96    5   6   1   1   1     6     9    36   1  42
 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr.    74.15    4   3   2   0   3     8     9    36   1  43
 6 Jimmie Johnson        68.36    4   1   3   2   2     8     4    36   1  42
 7 Matt Kenseth          68.33    0   2   4   5   2     9     7    36   2  42
 8 Kyle Larson           61.25    0   3   2   1   2    10    11    36   2  43
 9 Denny Hamlin          59.44    1   1   2   1   2    11     9    35   1  42
10 Ryan Newman           58.99    0   1   2   0   2    10    17    36   2  41

Logano had two bad pit stops yesterday and was done. He whined a little after the race about consistency no longer mattering, he's right (but I imagine my blog sounds less whiny than his voice). Harvick had won the most polls this season and led over 1,000 laps-- his car had been fast but hadn't always finished that well, so that allowed writers to say "the fastest car won." Harvick tied Keselowski, Johnson and Dale Jr. with 20 top ten finishes, behind Logano's 22 and Gordon's 23. This was also more than Hamlin and Newman had achieved, and Hamlin missed a race.

This Chase played out similar to the one three years ago when Tony Stewart barely beat Carl Edwards by one point. It came down to 2-3 drivers in the final laps. Some guys deserve it, and Harvick is apparently one of those guys. But he will always be remembered for this:

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