Darlington, SC — December 18, 2020
He won nine times in NASCAR’s premier Cup Series during 2020. A personal best for wins in a season. He won the regular-season championship and was a prohibitive favorite to win the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. But, he failed to make the Championship 4 and join the drivers who raced for the title in the final event of the year at Phoenix.
Kevin Harvick needed one point, one position, on the final lap at Martinsville to qualify for the Championship. If he could just pass Kyle Busch, the driver directly in front of Harvick’s Ford Mustang, he’d earn that spot. Harvick hit Busch in the rear coming off Turn 4 causing the defending champion to spin out. Unfortunately, Harvick spun also.
Busch righted his car and crossed the finish line. Harvick backed into the wall on the front stretch and remained there, his championship hopes up in a cloud of tire smoke.
A sad ending to a dominant year. However, the year-long success of the Stewart-Haas Racing driver did not go unnoticed. For his efforts, Harvick was named the Richard Petty Driver of the Year for 2020.
The NMPA Announcement
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in the NASCAR Cup Series, has been named Richard Petty Driver of the Year for 2020 by a vote of the National Motorsports Press Association, the organization announced Friday.
Harvick received 45 percent of the votes cast by the NMPA membership. Also receiving multiple votes were reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott, IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon and Kyle Larson, who won 46 races on dirt this year.
Harvick won a career-best nine events this past season. During a campaign interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, Harvick won twice at Darlington Raceway and swept the Cup weekend at Michigan International Speedway with back-to-back victories at the two-mile track.
The 45-year-old 2014 Cup champion also triumphed at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Dover International Speedway, and Bristol Motor Speedway.
Harvick, the 2020 regular-season champion, finished fifth in the final standings after narrowly failing to qualify for the Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway.
This is Harvick’s fourth Driver of the Year award. He also earned the distinction in 2001, 2014, and 2018.
The Richard Petty Driver of the Year award has been presented annually since 1969 to recognize the season’s most outstanding driver. It is named in honor of the seven-time NASCAR premier series champion.