Kevin Harvick is no longer the reigning Sprint Cup champion, despite another impressive season at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Harvick's 2015 season bested his 2014 season in almost every category, but there was no championship at the end of the year this time around.
That was the difference between 2015 Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch and the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. As the clocks ticked away in the final quarter of the race, Busch checked out on Harvick and it seemed that it was all over for the No. 4.
Just not enough
But with ten laps to go, life was breathed back into Harvick's aspirations to go back-to-back when debris forced the seventh caution of the race. Harvick restarted fourth, right on the back bumper of the No. 18. On the restart, both drivers raced out in front of the pack but he never got a real opportunity to challenge Busch in the closing laps.
"Just really proud of everybody and just didn’t have it tonight. Kyle had a really strong car and we really never had anything for him all night. We kept working on it and working on it but we just could never get the back of the car hooked up through the corners.
"But all in all everybody stayed in there and kept fighting because it’s never over till it’s over. We were just too tight on the run after that last caution to gain any ground on them.”
Harvick led 46 laps Sunday night, but none after the 90th lap when the sun set on Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"Our guys on pit road did a great job all night. We were able to maintain or gain track position all night long. Our car fired off good. We were able to go through traffic good at the beginning, but as the night went, it seemed like the 18 got better, and we just got -- we didn't get any better. We just stayed the same and never could fix the problems that we had.
A memorable season, with or without the trophy
The championship may have alluded him, but it's hard to be too frustrated with such a strong showing throughout the entire season.
"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 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.”
The 2014 champion even smiled while watching Busch's emotions during the post-race celebration, saying "It's just exciting. I think when you race your whole life and you accomplish what you've raced for your whole life, it's exciting. I've been fortunate to experience that last year and know that feeling and know how gratifying that is. You know, it's fun to see that excitement."