NASCAR celebrates Kevin Harvick’s 2014 Sprint Cup championship
In between the comedic relief provided by host Jay Mohr, Kevin Harvick was honored for winning the 2014 championship.
With a tux bit rumpled due to his two-year-old sitting on him for most of the night, Kevin Harvick formally accepted the 2014 Sprint Cup Series championship Friday at the Wynn in Las Vegas.
Throughout much of the evening Harvick’s son, Keelan, climbed over his dad “like a jungle gym,” which is why Harvick would later explain his tux was missing a button and his pants were ripped. At one point Dale Earnhardt Jr. even texted Harvick, who was sitting at the head table alongside his family and members of Stewart-Haas Racing, to adjust his tie.
“(Keelan) got pretty comfortable,” Harvick said. “The next thing I know, buttons were missing, and my pants were ripped.
“It’s OK, I’ll take a lost button and some wrinkles to have him up on stage. It was pretty cool.”
The disjointed look of the newly crowned champion fit the laidback atmosphere of the awards ceremony. As he did a year ago as host, comedian Jay Mohr livened up an event that typically is quite staid by riffing on the attendees.
Not many drivers were spared, with Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and the pit crew for Joey Logano among Mohr’s frequent targets — especially Keselowski’s lack of popularity in the garage.
- “Where is Brad? Let me look for the table of one.”
- “You start with 16 drivers. After each round of races, four drivers are eliminated and one of those drivers has to fight Brad Keselowski,” Mohr said explaining the new Chase for the Sprint Cup format.
- “Even booze hates Brad Keselowski,” Mohr said referencing Keselowski slicing his hand on a champagne bottle in Victory Lane at Kentucky Speedway.
Jokes aside, the night was about honoring Harvick, whose first championship came in his maiden season with SHR. And it was that decision to leave Richard Childress Racing after 13 years which provided one of the night’s most poignant moments.
Richard Childress gave Harvick his big break, elevating him to NASCAR’s No. 1 division following the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr., who died on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Harvick would win two races that season and played vital role in RCR getting through a difficult period.
But Harvick’s tenure with RCR was filled not only with much success, but great acrimony as well. Despite any hard feelings, Harvick made sure to thank his former car owner during his nearly seven-minute acceptance speech.
“I owe a lot to Richard Childress,” Harvick said. “He believed in a punk kid from California enough to give me a ride and then he had the faith to bring me to Cup during an incredibly emotional time for him, RCR and our sport. We did a lot together and I’m not up here tonight without you Richard. Thank you.”
Since announcing he would leave RCR for SHR, co-owned by good friend Tony Stewart, Harvick has said it something he needed to do for the betterment of his career. And though it wasn’t a decision made lightly, Harvick was adamant that he never second-guessed himself.
However, in the euphoria of having secured the championship he long sought, Harvick acknowledged not only is reservations, but how Stewart proved prophetic.
“I have to admit, I was scared to death,” Harvick said. “I tried to play it cool, but it was a pivotal moment in my career. I was venturing outside my comfort zone and I had to make it work.
“Tony, I consider you one of my best friends. And you promised me if I came to Stewart-Haas Racing, we would win a championship. You are a man of your word.”