Kevin Harvick might have had a dominant 2018 season, leading the series in a few different categories, but he and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team came up short in the championship fight with a third-place finish.
No worry though, Harvick said it wasn’t harder to take this defeat over any in the past.
“I think with the way our championship is now, it’s one race, and it’s one night, it’s one moment,” Harvick said in Las Vegas during Champion’s Week. “When you look at the amount of race wins … we had a great year and won more races this year than any year that I’ve raced in a stock car. When you look at the results, it’s pretty hard to complain with the results that we had.
“We just didn’t put the whole night together. We put the day together at Homestead, we didn’t put the night piece together and wound up not winning.”
Harvick led 58 laps in the Nov. 18 finale, most of which came during the daytime part of the race. He also earned the Stage 2 win. But when the sun went down, Harvick’s car wasn’t on par with Joey Logano or Martin Truex Jr. and suddenly wasn’t as much a factor. Although he lined up fourth on the final restart, he did not have a challenge in him for the title and only passed fellow contender Kyle Busch before the checkered flag.
“I think the system is exciting and that’s really what it’s about,” Harvick said. “The team that’s the dominant football team doesn’t always win the Super Bowl.”
While Harvick and Busch tied for a series-high eight wins, Harvick led the way in many other categories. Among them, he accumulated the most stage wins (19), playoff points (55), top-10 finishes (29), and laps led (1,990).
Eight wins were the most Harvick has earned in a single NASCAR Cup Series season. His previous best was five in both 2006 and his championship-winning season of 2014. With another appearance in the Championship 4, Harvick has been a title contender in four of its five years.
Yes, even without the title it was still a successful season for Harvick.
“There’s no way that you can’t consider this season a success,” Harvick said. “We won eight races, the All-Star Race, top-fives and top-10s, and poles. All the things that come with that, and contended on a weekly basis. I think as you look at what we deal with from a points structure and the way that the championship is decided, it comes down to one race. And one race, you’re not always going to have it right, and there’s going to be guys who get it right.
“You have to be able to shut off losing this championship because of the fact of the way that it’s structured. I think it’s definitely more exciting, but it’s still one race.”