Reflections From 2015: Lessons Learned

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Kevin Harvick Will Do Whatever It Takes To Win

We knew long before 2015 that Kevin Harvick – whose nickname is “The Closer” – was one of NASCAR’s most tenacious, talented and determined drivers. What we didn’t know was that Harvick will stop at literally nothing – including manipulating the outcome of a race – to keep his championship hopes alive. With his car’s engine going sour late in the Chase elimination race at Talladega, Harvick took matters into his own hands by wrecking Trevor Bayne and triggering a caution that was his only hope of making it to the next round. Despite a firestorm of criticism from competitors and fans alike, the strategy worked. CIA Stock Photo

Kyle Busch Is A Fighter

When Kyle Busch was laid up in a Daytona Beach hospital the night before the 2015 Daytona 500 with a compound fracture of his lower right leg and a mid-foot fracture of his left foot suffered in a hard crash in the season-opening XFINITY Series race, no one expected the Joe Gibbs Racing driver to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. That was even truer after Busch missed the season’s first 11 Cup races. Turns out Busch didn’t just make the Chase; he won four races en route and once there made it all the way to the winner-take-all Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway. CIA Stock Photo

Joe Gibbs Racing Has Returned To Frontrunner Status

Remember 2014 when Joe Gibbs Racing won just two of 36 races? Yeah, those days seem long gone now. That’s because JGR, which expanded from three to four teams with the off-season addition of Carl Edwards, enjoyed a renaissance in 2015. After a somewhat slow start to the season, JGR basically owned the summer months as all four of its drivers found their way to Victory Lane. While Kyle Busch was ultimately JGR’s lone representative among the Championship 4, the organization performed well enough to realistically have all four of its drivers in the title hunt at the final race. CIA Stock Photo

Greatness In the Regular Season Or One Chase Round Guarantees Nothing

 Before being eliminated from the Chase, Jimmie Johnson won four races, Matt Kenseth won five and Joey Logano won six. Yet none of the three were among the four drivers who arrived at Homestead-Miami Speedway championship-eligible. Johnson was eliminated in the Challenger Round because of a hiccup at Dover, while Kenseth and Logano failed to advance out of the Contender Round and Eliminator Round, respectively, as a result of issues in multiple races. Of the championship finalists, only one – Kyle Busch – came to Homestead with as many regular-season wins as Johnson. None of the finalists had as many overall wins as Logano and Kenseth. CIA Stock Photo

NASCAR Will Make An Example Of Someone

Ever since NASCAR VP of competition Robin Pemberton issued the grossly overused “Boys, have at it” edict several years ago, the sanctioning body has been more lenient about drivers making contact on the track and even sparring on pit road or in the garage. But when Matt Kenseth, a non-Chase driver running multiple laps down, deliberately wrecked race leader and Chase driver Joey Logano at Martinsville, NASCAR acted swiftly and harshly against the 2003 champion by suspending him for two races. The reason behind this consequence was rather simple: NASCAR wanted to make an example of Kenseth to prevent similar acts of retaliation in the future. CIA Stock Photo

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