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Driver will have new number for 2015 XFINITY Series season TriStar Motorsports announced Wednesday that Blake Koch will return to the Mark Smith-owned team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015. Koch is scheduled to drive all 33 races, but in Toyotas fielding a new car number -- No. 8. The 29-year-old Floridian, who has competed in the majority of XFINITY Series events for the last four seasons, drove cars numbered 10, 44, 23 and 91 over a 28-race slate last year. "After a good 2014 season, I am excited to be back with TriStar Motorsports for the 2015 season," Koch said in a news release provided by the team. "I am looking forward to working with Bruce Cook and the No. 8 crew and can't wait to get to Daytona." Koch wound up 24th in the final 2014 standings with a best finish of 18th place at Phoenix International Raceway in November. His top result in 114 career starts in the XFINITY Series was an 11th-place in the 2013 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "We are happy to have Blake Koch back with our team for the 2015 season," Smith said. " Blake did well with our team last season and we look forward to building on that success throughout the 2015 season." Last year, Cook served as the crew chief for nine races with the No. 80 team in the XFINITY Series. In those races, he served as the crew chief for Alex Bowman (one race), Ross Chastain (five races) and Johnny Sauter (three races) in 2014. Before that, Cook served as the crew chief for Ron Hornaday Jr . in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the 2013 season. He has one victory in his career in XFINITY competition, overseeing Tony Stewart 's win in the 2011 season opener at Daytona International Speedway in what was then called the Nationwide Series. The Mooresville, North Carolina-based organization indicated that sponsorship announcements for the No. 8 team would be made "in the upcoming weeks." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get information on the Leavine Family Racing team and driver Michael McDowell
Organization also named Eddie Pardue as crew chief for Cale Conley Mike Bliss will be back behind the wheel for TriStar Motorsports in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015, the team announced on Friday. The 2015 campaign will mark Bliss' fifth season in the XFINITY Series together. Paul Clapprood will return to serve as the crew chief for Bliss. In the past four seasons with TriStar, Bliss has recorded five top-10 finishes. TriStar also announced that Eddie Pardue will serve as the crew chief for Cale Conley and the No. 14 Toyota Camry team. Last season, Pardue served as the competition director for TriStar Motorsports. Pardue has served as a crew chief in the XFINITY Series before, working with Greg Biffle , Matt Kenseth , Jason Leffler and several other drivers. In 280 XFINITY Series races, Pardue has been atop the pit box for three wins. He also has crew chief experience in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (one race) and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (22 races). In other announcements, TriStar also said Bruce Cook will serve as the crew chief for Blake Koch in the No. 8 car. Last year, Cook served as the crew chief for nine races with the No. 80 team in the XFINITY Series. In those races, he served as the crew chief for Alex Bowman (one race), Ross Chastain (five races) and Johnny Sauter (three races) in 2014. Before that, Cook served as the crew chief for Ron Hornaday Jr . in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the 2013 season. He has one victory in his career in XFINITY competition, overseeing Tony Stewart 's win in the 2011 season opener at Daytona International Speedway in what was then called the Nationwide Series. Greg Connor will be back as the crew chief for the No. 44 team. Connor has been with the organization since 2013. A driver and sponsor announcement will be made in the upcoming weeks, according to a team release. Wes Ward will now serve as the shop foreman at TriStar as he hangs up his crew chief hat. Ward had over 15 years of crew chief experience with his lone NASCAR national series win coming with Kasey Kahne in the 2003 season finale at Homestead in what is now the XFINITY Series. Rick Viers has come on board as the team's new general manager, while Keith Barnwell will serve as the new executive vice president. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver to join TriStar Motorsports for full XFINITY Series slate TriStar Motorsports announced Thursday morning that Cale Conley will make the jump to a full-time ride in the NASCAR XFINITY Series next season. Conley, 22, competed in 11 races last season in the Nationwide Series -- which is transferring title sponsorship to Comcast's XFINITY brand in 2015. His best finish in Richard Childress Racing 's No. 33 Chevrolet was sixth at Kentucky Speedway in September. "I am looking forward to working with people that are excited to work with me and help me mature as a driver and competitor in this series," Conley said. "I am grateful to Mark Smith and TriStar Motorsports for being willing to take a chance with me and let me race weekend after weekend after weekend, so I can get one step closer to my ultimate dream of being a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion." TriStar, owned by Mark Smith, fielded 13 drivers in its four-car operation last season, with Mike Bliss , Eric McClure , Blake Koch and Jeff Green making the majority of the starts in the team's Toyotas. Mooresville, North Carolina-based team's best finish was a ninth-place from David Starr at Talladega Superspeedway in the spring. A spokesperson for TriStar said that more announcements regarding the team's driver lineup for 2015 were coming in the next two weeks. Conley brought his rich sprint-car background to NASCAR competition in 2011, gaining experience in the K&N Pro Series before venturing into Nationwide races. The West Virginia native notched his first victory on the K&N circuit at Columbus Motor Speedway in 2012. In addition to his growth on the track last season, Conley made waves off the track when he settled a bet with Emma Blaney by wearing a dress . The campaign to add to Conley's Twitter following and the ensuing pictures prompted the social media hashtag #DriverInADress. Conley is scheduled to appear as a guest on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90) on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. ET. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See where each driver finished at Charlotte and why RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Editor's note: Drivers in italics are in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing Harvick showed the "freaky fast" dominance that he's been notorious for throughout the 2014 season as he led for a total of 162 laps out of 334 to win the Bank of America 500 . Harvick started seventh in the field and maintained a top-10 presence. The No. 4 SHR driver won by pulling away on the final restart on Lap 333 to beat Jeff Gordon to the finish line by .571 seconds. Harvick enters the final race in the Contender Round with a win to guarantee a position in the Eliminator Round. Get more driver data with RaceView. 2. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports Gordon wasted little time shooting from second place to stealing the lead from Kyle Busch on Lap 14. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports driver led for a total of 74 laps before finishing .571 seconds away from first. Gordon currently sits sixth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings with 18 points over Matt Kenseth , the first driver sitting in a position to be eliminated in ninth. 3. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing McMurray used an interesting pit strategy on a Lap 95 caution, only taking two tires. The pit move put the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing driver second in the field on the restart, alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who also only took two tires. Unlike Dale Jr., McMurrary maintained his position. CGR teammates McMurray and Larson went on to bounce in and out of the top five, giving the Chase drivers a run for their money along the way. McMurray ultimately finished third at Charlotte, achieving his seventh top five of his Cup career at the track. Get more pit data with RaceView. 4. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske Logano played a low profile this week. Why make a scene when you're already guaranteed a spot in the Elimination Round of the Chase? "Sliced Bread" started 13th in the field, and besides his slight run-in with Danica Patrick on Lap 246 when he got into the back of the No. 10 coming out of Turn 2, causing Patrick to spin out, the Team Penske driver had a successful night. Logano remains on the top of the points standings heading into Talladega. See Logano's interaction with Patrick here . 5. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing Pole-sitter Kyle Busch came out looking as strong as ever. Leading a total of 41 laps, the No. 18 Toyota driver had a lot of contenders gunning after his lead position and he just couldn't hold off the hard-charging Harvick. Despite losing the lead, Busch just added another top-five finish at Charlotte his new total of 10. Busch sits second in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. 6. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing Larson found the high line early in the race and was able to fly into the top 10 on a restart after the competition caution on Lap 25. The No. 42 Chevrolet driver even saw the lead for five laps. The Chip Ganassi Racing rookie has been consistent for his first Sprint Cup Series season -- with eight top fives and now 16 top 10s, Larson's sixth-place finish proves he's a driver Chasers should be worried about now and in the future. 7. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing Newman was running in the top 15 when a spin from Danica Patrick collected him and sent the No. 31 shooting across the track. Newman started the race fifth, and despite his incident managed to rally a top-10 finish. Newman now sits fourth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings as he heads to Talladega. See Newman's spin here . 8. Carl Edwards , No. 99 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing Starting 10th in the Bank of America 500 , Edwards didn't make any significant moves in the second race of the Contender Round of the Chase besides scoring his 13th top-10 finish at Charlotte. Looking ahead, Edwards is 12 points off of first in the standings. The No. 99 driver would need to finish 18th with no laps led, 19th with at least one lap led or 20th with most laps led at Talladega to advance in order to the clinch into the Eliminator Round of the Chase. 9. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing Hamlin started the race third and surprisingly didn't see the lead until Lap 272 out of 334. Hamlin led 22 laps before falling short to eventual winner Kevin Harvick . The lead gave Hamlin enough momentum to remain in the top 10 from there on out. After the race on the cool down lap, Hamlin found himself tangled in post-race drama with Brad Keselowski . The No. 2 and No. 11 seemed to have a disagreement, causing Keselowski to try to wreck Hamlin. "He just tried to turn ya," Hamlin's crew chief explained to Hamlin. "Get out of there. Be smart. Don't do nothing stupid. Let Tony (Stewart) handle it." Get more in-race audio with RaceView . " View the video of the post-race drama here . 10. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports Kahne escaped the craziness of what was the Bank of America 500 with a top-10 finish and even moved a position higher in the Chase standings. Currently sitting in the eighth position in the standings, in order for Kahne to clinch a spot in the Eliminator Round of the Chase he would have to win at Talladega. Kahne has three top-fives in 21 starts at the superspeedway with an average finish of 21.5. 11. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing The kind of run that Busch had at Charlotte was exactly the kind of run he needed earlier in the season to have remained in the Chase. Busch saw his way into the top five quickly after starting the race 11th in the field and even saw the lead for two laps. The No. 41 SHR driver finished 11th, more than 8 spots ahead of his average finishing position at the North Carolina track. 12. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing Although no longer in the Chase, Allmendinger is still running in the top 15. The 'Dinger started the race 26th and made significant positive movement in the race despite a pit road penalty on Lap 97 for equipment leaving his pit box. Allmendinger is also leading in the non-Chase driver standings. 13. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing Improving his previous Charlotte showing, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year competitor started the Bank of America 500 20th in the field and eventually led for a total of six laps during a flurry of green-flag pits stops. Dillon has shown he's powerful on speedways, earning his first Coors Light Pole Award at the start of the year in the Daytona 500 . Dillon's previous trip to Talladega had him finishing 15th. Not bad for a rookie. 14. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing In one of Truex's better races this season, the Furniture Row Racing driver started 23rd and made huge gains by Lap 124 and was running as high as sixth. Truex's average finish at Charlotte is 18.5 in 19 starts, so his 14th-place finish is a move in a positive direction. Truex Jr. moved up one spot in the standings. 15. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports Still in his rookie season, Allgaier has only two Sprint Cup Series starts at Charlotte, his best run coming in the Bank of America 500 . Not only was this Allgaier's best run at Charlotte, it was also his best run of 2014. Could the HScott driver be catching on? 16. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske Unlike Keselowski's typical chamionship-worthy form, the No. 2 Team Penske driver fought to stay in the top 10 at Charlotte. It wasn't until after the race that Keselowski started to heat up. During the cool-down lap, the No. 2 and No. 11 seemed to have a disagreement, causing Keselowski to go after Denny Hamlin . Once heading onto pit road Keselowski then went after Matt Kenseth and also crashed into Tony Stewart along the way. Stewart had no tolerance for it and reversed himself into Keselowski. Back in the garage area, Hamlin and Kenseth went after Keselowski and physical altercations broke out between the No. 2 and No. 20 team. All in all, with a finish of 16th, Keselowski now must battle at Talladega next week to keep his position in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Keselowski sits 19 points behind the eighth-place cut off for the Eliminator Round. View the video of the post-race drama here . 17. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports Better than his finish last week at Kansas, Johnson could have still had a better night in the Bank of America 500 . In his 27 starts, Johnson had earned seven wins at the North Carolina track, his most recent coming in the spring race of this year. Unlike his typical calm and cool demeanor, Johnson let a bit of the pressure get to him, resulting in a heated exchange with crew chief Chad Knaus over the radio as Knaus was trying to adjust Johnson's car. Hanging on the edge of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings in 11th, the Hendrick Motorsports driver must win at Talladega in order to clinch a spot in the next round. Johnson only has two wins in 25 starts at the Alabama superspeedway where he finished 23rd earlier this year. To hear the heated discussion click here . 18. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing Even though Biffle is out of the Chase, he still found a way to make an impact. Biffle's 18th-place finish was not only better than his spring showing, but the non-Chaser took away a position that Kenseth and Dale Jr. were gunning for. 19. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing After starting the race in the rear for unapproved adjustments, winless Chase contender Kenseth worked his way through traffic and even saw the top five. It wasn't until Lap 272 that things started to shake up. During a restart on that lap, Kenseth and Keselowski made contact and Hamlin ran away with the lead. The contact dropped Kenseth from fourth back to 18th-place. Following Harvick's win, Kenseth was driving down pit road with his seat belt and HANS device off, and Keselowski charged from behind him to scrape the back side of the No. 20 Toyota Camry. Kenseth later found Keselowski on pit road and a fight broke out between the two teams. View the video of the post-race drama here . 20. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports Earnhardt Jr. needed Charlotte to be a success story. He even went as far as declaring his win a day before the race. "We're gonna win this race," Earnhardt said in a televised interview after Friday's first practice at Charlote. "I've got a really good feeling about it." Earnhardt Jr. pitted before pit road was open on Lap 138 and got a penalty, forcing him to restart in the rear. The No. 88 crew also had to deal with a broken shifter in the Hendrick Chevrolet. Earnhardt was also penalized for speeding on pit road which ultimately set him back further in the field. After a second penalty for speeding and constantly battling to stay on the lead lap, Dale Jr. finished the race 20th and is currently 12th in the Chase standings with one race left in the Contender Round. Junior has the best record at Talladega of any of the Chasers on the bubble going into next round with five wins, 10 top-fives and 14 top-10s in 29 career starts. 21. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing It looked like a quiet night for Stewart. The SHR co-owner and driver started fourth in the field and by Lap 4 had stolen third from Hamlin. He eventually drifted back, occasionally making an appearance in the top 10. Stewart finished the race 21st and was heading down pit road when Keselowski made contact with the No. 14 as he was attempting to go after Kenseth. Stewart had zero tolerance for the No. 2's behavior and put his SHR Chevrolet into reverse, crunching the hood of Keselowski. View the video of the post-race drama here . 22. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports It's a good thing Almirola is no longer in the Chase running. His poor showings at both Kansas (31st) and Charlotte (22nd) would be a surefire way to eliminate himself. The No. 43 team couldn't seem to find their groove on Saturday night and caught themselves a lap down on Lap 85. After starting 15th, Almirola just dropped back. We know the RPM driver is capable of more because he finished 11th in the spring race this year. Perhaps, Almirola is experiencing more of a laid back attitude now that the Chase pressure is off his shoulders. 23. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Racing With three previous DNFs at Charlotte, just finishing the race is an accomplishment for the No. 40 team. Cassill's 23rd-place finish is his second best in nine starts at the track. His best was 18th in 2012. Although Cassill only finished 331 out of 334 laps, this is still a move in the right direction. 24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing While this isn't Stenhouse's worst finish at Charlotte, it isn't his best either. The No. 17 RFR driver started 28th in the field and didn't see much movement. Perhaps he was distracted by his contact he made with Mears on Lap 109. From the looks of it, it seemed intentional and Mears headed to pit road. If Stenhouse gets his mind back on racing, he might find himself in the top five at Talladega, as he was in 2013. 25. Marcos Ambrose , No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports 2014 hasn't been Ambrose's year at Charlotte. This weekend earning 25th, and then previously finishing 29th in the spring, he doesn't seem like he's looking to leave his mark on the Cup Series before he leaves after the end of the season. Moving forward, although the No. 9 is a road course expert, he did once earn a top five on Talladega Superspeedway . 26. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing Patrick celebrated a small victory early in the race as she moved up 11 positions to fourth in the race off pit road following the competition caution on Lap 25. After that, the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing driver quickly fell into the 20s. Patrick brought herself back up to 11th but spun in Turn 2 after trying to get around Logano. Patrick collected Ryan Newman with her. "It was such a bummer for the GoDaddy team," Patrick said. "We were having such a good night, and I really think we had a car that was capable of a top-10 finish tonight, and that got taken away from us for really no reason. It's just really frustrating. Charlotte has not been good to me." The No. 10 suffered damage to the right-rear and front end as she hit the wall but was able to continue with the race. Patrick ultimately finished 26th, her second-best finish at the track in five starts. See Patrick's spin here . 27. Reed Sorenson , No. 36 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing Sorenson started 30th in the field and finished just three positions better. The No. 36 driver finished 42nd in the spring race, ultimately improving his finish by 15 positions in the fall race. Looking ahead, Sorenson has four DNFs at Talladega, his most recent coming in the spring. The Tommy Baldwin Racing driver's best finish at the superspeedway is 10th in 2007. 28. Cole Whitt , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing Sunoco Rookie of the Year competitior Whitt made his fourth Sprint Cup Series start at Charlotte and scored his second-best finish. Whitt started 36th and finished 28th, raising him one spot in the Cup standings. 29. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing Scoring his best finish at Charlotte in 11 starts, McDowell might be on to something. Although he only improved two spots from his starting position, the No. 95 driver is chipping away at his high average finish of 36.3 30. Alex Bowman , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing In his second career start at Charlotte, rookie Bowman may have had a finish barely inside the top 30, but it's the better of his two appearances, so that has to be a step in the right direction. His pit crew, on the other hand, might be what's slowing him down. On Lap 330, nearing the end of the race, Bowman pitted and was penalized for a missing lugnut on his car. Without that, could the No. 23 rookie have pulled off a top-20 finish? 31. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing It's been about seven years, but Mears knows what it feels like to win at Charlotte. More often than that, though, he knows how it feels to get a DNF at the track. Thankfully, the No. 13 driver avoided the latter, but finished several positions off his average of 23.6. 32. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports Finishing two spots behind his position a week prior at Kansas, it seems like Gilliland might only drop off the map from here on out, or we could see another top 10 performance at Talladega like he put on in 2013. Although the No. 38 driver gained five positions from his starting spot, he still finished a few places behind his average of 29.8. 33. Michael Annett , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing Annett got into the wall on Lap 266, bringing out a caution at Charlotte. The No. 7 driver also experienced leakage earlier in the race, but finished 33rd despite his shortcomings. Annett finished 28th in his first start at Charlotte in the spring. 34. David Ragan , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports Ragan saw no movement at Charlotte after starting the race in the same position as he ended. Ragan's average finish at Charlotte is 23.7, but his last six efforts have all been worse than that. Looking ahead, the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports driver actually has a win at Talladega than came in the spring of 2013. 35. Corey LaJoie, No. 77 Ford, Randy Humphrey Racing Making his second career Cup start and his first at his hometrack, LaJoie didn't exactly make a grand entrance. The 23 year old started the race 42nd, so to say he didn't make any gains would be a lie, they were just few and far between. 36. Timmy Hill , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Spilled gasoline in Hill's pit box brought a small fire that was quickly extinguished on pit road. If only the No. 33 brought the same heat to the track. Hill finished 36th in his fourth start at Charlotte. This is the third time out of those four starts that Hill has finished 36th. 37. Brian Vickers , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing Vickers was running in the top 15 when he spun in Turn 2, bringing out a caution on Lap 237. Vickers was then running 20th when his engine blew on Lap 328, bringing out another caution. Vickers finished 37th after starting the race eighth. This is Vickers' second time finishing 37th in 17 starts at Charlotte. 38. J.J. Yeley, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing Yeley's best performance at Charlotte came in 2007 when he finished second. Since then, the No. 83 driver has hardly seen finishes inside the top 30. Although this isn't Yeley's worst finish at Charlotte, he's seen better days. 39. Blake Koch , No. 32 Ford, FAS Lane Racing Koch's 39th-place finish in the Bank of America 500 was the worst position the driver has earned in his total of three starts at the track. The only other tracks Koch has raced s Cup car are Phoenix and Dover. Some experience on different styles of tracks could help out the 29-year-old. 40. Brett Moffitt , No. 66 Toyota, Jay Robinson Racing In his first start at Charlotte Motor Speedway , the 22-year-old Sprint Cup part-timer was just getting his feet wet. Moffitt has made four other Cup starts this season, scoring his best finish of 22nd in his series debut at Dover. 41. Josh Wise , No. 98 Chevrolet, Phil Parsons Racing Wise had to head to the garage for vibrations on Lap 81, but returned on Lap 116. Not making any big moves, the No. 98 came down the apron, car smoking at Lap 221 bringing out a caution. Wise ultimately finished 41st and 156 laps behind. 42. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing On Lap 136, Menard brought out a caution as the No. 27 blew an engine and was forced to the garage. This was Menard's second career DNF at Charlotte, his first coming in 2008. Menard started sixth in the race and had showed potential of a top-10 finish. 43. Clint Bowyer , No 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing Bowyer faced engine issues on Lap 96, which brought out a caution, and ultimately had to take the No. 15 Toyota to the garage. This is Bowyer's first DNF at Charlotte and his fourth of 2014, his first coming in the season-opening Daytona 500 . MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceVie FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Victory clinches NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship RELATED: Complete race results " Final driver standings " Photos from Homestead HOMESTEAD, Fla.—The fastest driver doesn't always win a race—or a championship—but on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway , Kevin Harvick did both. Driving a No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet that has been the class of the field for most of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Harvick won Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 at the 1.5-mile intermediate track and claimed his first premier series championship after a three-lap drag race against underdog title contender Ryan Newman . Harvick was so wrapped up in the championship battle that the victory in the race didn't register right away. "I forgot we won the race—how about that?" Harvick chuckled. "I think this Chase is about the best thing that has happened to this sport over the last decade. This is probably going to shorten the drivers' careers, because it's been so stressful, but I want to thank every single fan for sticking with this sport, and to the industry for working to get it right." After the 13th caution slowed the field on Lap 263, the result of debris dripping from the No. 32 Ford of Blake Koch , Harvick led the field to green on Lap 265 of 267 with Newman beside him. Newman stayed to the inside of Harvick's car through the first corner, but Harvick, on four fresh tires to Newman's two, cleared the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and pulled away to a half-second victory. Under NASCAR's new elimination format for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the driver who won five times, including Sunday, and led 2,137 laps throughout the season beat the driver who was winless with 41 laps led by a single point. In his first season with SHR, Harvick won for the first time at Homestead and for the 28th time in his career. With the highest finisher among the Championship 4 contenders assured of the title, Denny Hamlin came home seventh, and Joey Logano ran 16th after a disastrous late-race pit stop. Harvick's crew chief, Rodney Childers, made a critical call to bring Harvick to pit road for four tires under caution on Lap 249. With three cars staying on the track and eight others taking right-side tires only, Harvick restarted 12th, but two quick cautions fell his way. Harvick made up six positions almost immediately and restarted sixth after the 12th caution for an accident involving Koch and J.J. Yeley on Lap 255. "I knew I needed to get a bunch of (positions)," Harvick said. "I was fortunate to start on the outside. The seas kind of parted there as I came off of Turn 2 and was about to get four or five of them; I don't really know, but it was time to go for broke at that particular point. "When the next caution came out, we were fortunate enough again to line up on the outside (for the restart on Lap 259). That was pretty much what we needed—to get the run on the outside down the backstretch." On the final restart against Harvick, Newman said he contemplated the sort of all-or-nothing move he had used a week earlier against Kyle Larson to edge Jeff Gordon by one point for the final position in the Championship 4 Round. But Newman quickly thought better of the idea. "In the end, I just got down underneath him and he was close enough to me, took some of the air away from me," Newman said. "I could have kept it wide open and washed up into him, and it wasn't the right move. It wasn't what I would have wanted him to do to me. "If we were close enough on the last lap, it might have been a different game, but I wasn't. I slipped off of Turn 4 coming to the white, and at that point it was pretty much over. I really was hoping he would slip a tire, blow a motor, something like that. That was our only hope. All those things go through your mind, but I had a pretty good run and cut down to the bottom and just ran out of racetrack, ran out of room, and he had the air—he had the line." Hamlin, who forewent a pit stop on Lap 249 when most of the other lead-lap cars came to pit road, restarted in the lead on Lap 259, with Newman second and Harvick sixth, but Hamlin's No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota quickly fell victim to cars on superior tires. By the time NASCAR called the 13th caution on Lap 262, Hamlin had dropped to third behind Harvick and Newman, and he fell back to seventh in the final three-lap run. "For me, there's not one thing I would have done different," Hamlin said. "I mean, we brought a car that was capable of winning. I just don't know how to express it enough. Sometimes breaks go your way; sometimes they don't. They just didn't go our way. "There's not much else we could have done with the strategy that we played with the cautions that came out. I wouldn't do a thing different. I think we overachieved greatly by being here, and we haven't had the speed to compete for race wins all year, and we did today, on the race that really mattered. Just came up short." Logano's first flirtation with a title came to an inglorious end when the No. 22 Team Penske Ford fell off the jack as the crew was changing left-side tires under caution on Lap 249. Last out of the pits, Logano restarted 29th on Lap 253 and could recover only to 16th by the checkered flag. "It's hard to be proud right now after coming home wherever we finished in this race," said Logano, who gets credit for fourth in the championship standings despite winning five races. "I don't even know what that is. I don't even care. "You don't get shots at championships often. Hopefully we get another next year. This car had a lot of wins and a lot of top fives, and it doesn't mean a thing." Gordon, the Coors Light Polesitter, led 161 laps, but came to pit road for tires on Lap 256 and wasn't a factor the rest of the way, finishing 10th. Notes: Kyle Larson finished 13th and was the runaway winner of the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award after an outstanding freshman season… Marcos Ambrose finished 27th in his final race for Richard Petty Motorsports before returning to his native Australia to race V8 Supercars for owner Roger Penske… The victim of an early accident, Carl Edwards ran 34th in his final trip in the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford before moving to Joe Gibbs Racing next season. It was also the last race as a crew chief for Edwards' veteran pit boss, Jimmy Fennig… Chevrolet won its 12th straight manufacturers’ championship and 38th overall. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation