LAS VEGAS - Two years ago, Kevin Harvick was evaluating his life. He and his wife, DeLana, had welcomed a son, their only child. They'd sold their race team and began to prioritize what really mattered to their growing family.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. imagined his Nationwide Series trophy was a chalice, tipped it back and acted like he was taking a big swig of champagne or beer - the beverages of choice for NASCAR winners and champions.
It was some six hours after Kevin Harvick had won his first Sprint Cup championship when he was finally able to peel off his beer-soaked firesuit, take a shower and begin celebrating the biggest moment of his career.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. - There was pushing, punching, one ambush in a darkened garage and a bloody brawl. There were thousands of hours spent analyzing the path to the Sprint Cup title as teams tried to adapt to NASCAR's new championship format.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Ryan Newman is the underdog - minus the darling - of NASCAR's final four, making a mockery of the revamped playoff format that was supposed to put a premium on winning.
MIAMI - There's no Jeff, Jimmie or Junior. Bad Brad missed the cut and Smoke never contended.
NASCAR's new championship format, lauded for creating nail-biting intensity, wild emotional swings and tension on and off of the track, has also been full of heartbreak.
AVONDALE, Ariz. - Denny Hamlin had a championship within his sights before, four years ago when the Sprint Cup title was his to lose.
DOVER, Del. - NASCAR driver Kurt Busch has been accused of domestic assault by his ex-girlfriend, and police in Delaware said Friday they are investigating.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Denny Hamlin thinks most drivers don't respect Brad Keselowski, and the contempt stems from the 2012 NASCAR champion's refusal to show any remorse for his aggressive driving.
In the closing laps at Martinsville Speedway, Jeff Gordon could see Dale Earnhardt Jr. ahead of him with enough time to formulate a plan on how to handle his teammate if Gordon could catch him.
FORT WORTH, Texas - Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth look a bit out of place this late in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship with those zeroes under the column for wins.
When NASCAR chairman Brian France revealed the changes to the championship format, he vowed that winning would be the most important element and would ultimately reward "the most worthy, battle-tested" driver with the Sprint Cup title.
MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Kevin Harvick has picked his way through traffic before at Martinsville Speedway, never when the stakes were so high.
MARTINSVILLE, Va. - NASCAR's new championship format came with fan-friendly brackets that likely had fans advancing Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. deep into the playoffs.
CHICAGO (AP) - It didn't take Kevin Harvick long to start needling the drivers standing in his way of a second consecutive title.
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