Survival earns victorious Harvick and others slots in Final Four

(Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
(Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

The level of intensity kept rising until the very end, a needed win coming for a hopeful Kevin Harvick. The driver of the No. 4 and three other drivers earned their tickets to Homestead-Miami Speedway in a thrilling bout at Phoenix International Raceway Sunday afternoon. Eight teams entered the event with their fingers crossed, praying that things would go their way.

For half of them, it unfortunately didn’t.

Harvick’s performance was nearly flawless, proving something that everyone already knew: Phoenix is his track. Out of the last four races at the venue, he’s won three of them. His first season with Stewart-Haas Racing has been full of ups and downs, so a championship would definitely taste sweet. He’s finally found what Richard Childress Racing couldn’t give him, and he’s riding it all the way to Homestead.

No one could foresee the chaos that would ensue; on the final lap, Ryan Newman smacked Kyle Larson, sending the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie out of his way and up into the wall. That spot gave Newman the one point he needed to kick Jeff Gordon out of The Chase. This marks the second weekend where an end-of-the-race scuffle worked out negatively for Gordon.

Also in his first season with a new team, the fire that lit under Newman’s hind end is quite impressive. Who would’ve thought that No. 31 team could squeak into the final four?

Those also eliminated are Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, and Carl Edwards. With the final four as Harvick, Newman, Denny Hamlin, and Joey Logano, a brand-new champion will be crowned next Saturday

Hamlin and Logano’s day were equally confusing; both went laps down early on and somehow managed to find consistency at the end.

That was the story of the race: survival. Points still mattered in the end, and they will always matter in racing.

However, the story will be completely different in Homestead. Whoever finishes the highest gets the title of 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. Which position is the highest? Oh, yeah. First.

That’s what they mean by “win and you’re in.”

The Final Four

1. Denny Hamlin
2. Joey Logano
3. Ryan Newman
4. Kevin Harvick

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