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2018 Cup Season in Review: Kevin Harvick

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Kevin Harvick

CREW CHIEF: Rodney Childers, 34 races; Tony Gibson served as crew chief for final two races of the season following Childers’ suspension.

TEAM: Stewart-Haas Racing

POINTS: Third (Previous best: 2014 championship)

WINS: Eight (Atlanta, Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Dover I, Kansas I, New Hampshire, Michigan II and Texas II. Career-best; previous best was five in 2014)

LAPS LED: 1,990 (Third-best behind 2,294 in 2015 and 2,137 in 2014)

TOP 5s: 23 (Tied with 2015 for career-best)

TOP 10s: 29 (Career-best; previous best was 28 in 2015)

POLES: Pole (Second-best behind eight in 2014)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Came out of the gates strong with three wins in the first four weeks … Earned top fives and a seventh in 13 of his first 21 races … Through the second race of the playoffs (Race 28), Harvick never went two consecutive races without earning a top five … Became the first driver to qualify for the Championship 4 four times since the current knockout-style format was instituted in 2014.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Suffered crash damage three of the first 13 races to finish outside the top 30 … Numerous mistakes in the pits by both the driver and team kept Harvick from recording double-digit wins during the season. Had a five-race streak from the Charlotte Roval through Martinsville during which he failed to earn a top five … Two incumbered victories (illegal back window at Las Vegas in the spring and with the spoiler at Texas in the fall) marred his season.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2019: The new rules package will create uncertainty at the beginning of the season, but Stewart-Haas should be able to pick up where they left off in 2018 … The driver expects his team will remain just as aggressive in 2019 and will push the limits of the rules … Will redouble efforts at Pocono, Kentucky and the Charlotte Roval – the only active NASCAR tracks on which he has not yet won.

NASCAR mourns Kobe Bryant

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Joining their brethren in other sports, the NASCAR world took to social media upon learning the tragic news of the death of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Bryant had met a number of NASCAR drivers in his career, including Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. They were among a number of NASCAR notables who took to social media to mourn Bryant:

 

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Chad Knaus and wife expecting second child

Photo courtesy Brooke Knaus official Instagram account
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Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion crew chief Chad Knaus and wife Brooke are expecting their second child.

Brooke made the announcement Saturday on her Instagram account.

The couple, already parents to one-year-old son Kip, will soon be adding a daughter to their growing family.

Brooke Knaus’s Instagram post said the baby is due in July.

Kip figured prominently in the baby revelation, coming at the end of mom and dad’s ski run while vacationing in Telluride, Colorado:

 

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Kyle Larson flips, misses finals of Australia’s biggest sprint car race

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Kyle Larson’s hope of following up last week’s Chili Bowl win with a triumph in Australia’s prestigious Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic fell far short Sunday.

Larson’s bid to race his way into the 24-car finals of the three-day race at Premier Speedway in Warrnambool, Australia, ended when he flipped (uninjured) on the opening lap of a last-chance qualifying heat race earlier in the evening.

Instead of being one of the featured drivers in the Classic’s 40-lap finale – the largest and most popular sprint car race of the year in the land down under – Larson was left to watch the event from the pits and cheer on Dyson Motorsport teammate and fellow American Carson Macedo.

Even that didn’t go very well, as Macedo flipped his own sprint car on the first lap of the Classic, resulting in a last-place finish. The highest finishing American was Cory Eliason, who ended up fourth.

Meanwhile, it was an all-Australian podium, with James McFadden winning the Classic for the second time in his career, followed by James Veal and Kerry Madsen.

In eight days, Larson went from capturing what he called the biggest win ever of his racing career on all levels – the Chili Bowl in his 13th try last Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma – to nothing but bad luck and utter frustration throughout his Australian journey.

Larson’s first race on Wednesday in the King’s Challenge at Borderline Speedway was rained out.

Then, in the first night of the Classic on Friday, Larson wrecked heavily in his first heat race, including flipping (he was uninjured). After his team repaired his car, Larson went back on the track, only to suffer a blown engine that knocked him out of contention to race in that evening’s feature event.

After not being on the schedule to race in Night 2 of the Classic on Saturday, Larson had one last chance to make Sunday’s featured championship event.

A total of 80 drivers battled it out in the B, C and D Mains for the eight remaining spots in the A Main, but Larson would end up not being one of those — as can be seen in the second line of the following tweet by his team:

Larson now returns to the United States to prepare for the Daytona 500 on February 16.

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Kyle Busch feeling like ‘the new guy’ during his Rolex 24 debut at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch was looking forward to his first stint at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The two-time Cup champion was less enthused about his second turn behind the wheel in the IMSA season opener. Busch will climb back into the No. 14 Lexus RCF GT3 at 2 a.m. Sunday, just past the midpoint of the endurance race classic at Daytona International Speedway.

“That’s going to suck, yeah,” Busch deadpanned. “That’s exactly when I told them I did not want to run, and I got it.  Thank you very much.

“(I’m) the new guy.  I pulled the short straw.”

Click here to read more about how Busch felt about his AIM Vasser Sullivan car.