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Picture-perfect ending for NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick? Everyone else celebrating

Brendan Marks, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- There's a photo hanging in the man's closet, of he and his son and pure, simple joy. Thumbs up, smiles. Exactly the sort of memory that warrants immortalization.

But that photo of Kevin Harvick and his son, Keelan, now 5 years old, reveals more than just a pleasant memory. It reveals the essence of who Harvick is and the reason he races -- and the motivation for him to win Sunday's race at Homestead and win his second NASCAR championship.

"That picture of he and I giving the thumbs up, winning the championship, it's one of the coolest things that you'll probably ever get a picture of," Harvick said Thursday. "It's little things like that that mean a lot and go a long ways."

Harvick isn't racing for his ego, or for a taste of championship glory. He's already had that once before, that November night three years ago when he won the Cup Series. Instead, Harvick is driving for something else this time around -- to give that feeling, that sense of accomplishment, to everyone else.

"I want to win it for my guys and the organization more than anything," Harvick said. "That to me is more gratifying than what my legacy is or isn't."

In order for Harvick to guarantee his team that gratification though, he'll actually have to win Sunday's race, something that didn't seem imaginable as recently as two months ago.

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Harvick entered the playoffs with only one victory all season. His car had been good at times, but it lacked the consistency required of championship-caliber teams.

"We were late bloomers to the party," Harvick said, "just to the fact that we had a lot of work to do, a lot of change."

So the team tinkered, making adjustments and improvements with that goal, consistency, in mind. By the time the playoffs rolled around, they finally started finding that mojo. Then once they hit the third round, they peaked.

Harvick came fifth at Martinsville to open the round, and then won at Texas to clinch his berth in the championship four. He finished fifth at Phoenix as well, but that Texas win, the one where he passed Martin Truex Jr. at the end, is the one that stands out.

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