Kevin Harvick closes RCR tenure with Top-10 finish

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Following a 10th-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway tonight, Kevin Harvick was a little reflective as he looked back on his 13-year run with Richard Childress Racing that has now come to a close.

“I’m happy with everything that we have been able to accomplish as a group,” said Harvick, whose final stat line with RCR will read as follows: 23 wins, 100 Top-5s and 209 Top-10s in 466 Sprint Cup starts.

“We had a great year knowing what the circumstances were and we have won a lot of races – a lot of the marquee races. We have won Nationwide championships.

“As owners in the Truck Series and Nationwide cars, we were customers of the engine shop. So I mean, there is a lot that has happened with everything and everybody at RCR and [I’m] really proud about my past and everybody who has been involved in it – and really excited about my future.”

Harvick entered Homestead with an outside opportunity to win the Sprint Cup championship, but after being up front early, his No. 29 Chevrolet began to develop handling problems that caused him to fall out of the Top 20 before he had to pit under green at Lap 117.

He went a lap down as a result but was able to get back in sync with the leaders thanks to pit strategy. Unfortunately for him, he did not have a car capable of winning, which is what he needed to do (along with Johnson and Matt Kenseth having problems) to have any hope of taking the title.

“We just weren’t very good,” Harvick said of his race. “Just couldn’t turn like we needed to. We had one set of tires that I don’t know what was wrong with, but just like always, these guys on our Budweiser Chevy kept after it.

“Obviously, it’s not what we wanted…Sometimes, you take off with it and sometimes you don’t. We just kept working on it and salvaged a Top-10 out of it.”

Harvick finished third in the standings in his final season for RCR, which almost ended in disaster with the brief feud between Harvick and Richard Childress’ grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon, following a Camping World Truck Series race last month at Martinsville Speedway.

After commenting harshly on the Dillons, Harvick apologized a short time later. And after some conversations after that Martinsville weekend, everyone got back to working toward the goal of finishing 2013 strong. They realized that goal, taking the win at Phoenix in the penultimate race of the year before coming to Homestead.

“I think Martinsville brought a lot of things to a head and we were able to talk about a lot of things,” Harvick said. “Really, this was the way I would want to leave, with everybody shaking hands and happy that we have been together and been successful together. ”

Now, the end has arrived for Harvick and RCR. Next year, Harvick will be driving for Stewart-Haas Racing as part of a expanded four-car lineup that will also feature Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick.

But while Harvick looks forward to the new chapter in his career, he’s also looking forward to something else.

“I can’t wait for our first hunt together as friends,” Harvick said, presumably referring to Childress. “That will be good times.”

F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on NBCSN, NBC Sports App this week

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After five years and 98 Grands Prix broadcast since 2013, NBC Sports Group’s coverage of Formula 1 concludes with the 2017 season finale from Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit this week.

The lights come on for the day-into-night Grand Prix of the year as the sun sets on five years of broadcasts, original content and additional digital specific features such as Paddock Pass.

For Abu Dhabi this week, all of the race, qualifying and second free practice will be live on NBCSN with first and third free practice live on the NBC Sports App. The race returns is back in the usual morning a.m. time slots after three mid-day races in Austin, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, and a pair of overnight affairs in Kuala Lumpur and Suzuka. Formula 2 coverage of its season finale from Abu Dhabi also airs both on NBCSN and online.

With this the final race of the season before F1’s winter break, there’s still a handful of things to get sorted even though Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have wrapped their respective championships.

Sebastian Vettel (Brazil) and Max Verstappen (Mexico) have won the last two races, with Hamilton’s most recent win coming at Circuit of the Americas. Will it be any of these three that wrap the year on a high or could any of their teammates – Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo or Valtteri Bottas – upend the script?

Mercedes has won the last three races in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton winning in 2014 and 2016 with Nico Rosberg taking the 2015 crown.

Vettel and Hamilton have three wins apiece in Abu Dhabi, Vettel having taken all of his with Red Bull in 2009, 2010 and 2013, and Hamilton adding a 2011 McLaren triumph to his last two with Mercedes. Raikkonen (2012, Lotus) and Rosberg are the other Abu Dhabi winners, and while both Vettel and Raikkonen have won in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari never has in the first eight races here.

The last place up for grabs in the constructor’s battle is for sixth, with Toro Rosso (53 points), Renault (49) and Haas (47) separated by only six total points. Toro Rosso and Renault got into a nasty war of words in Brazil, and will part ways after the weekend.

Felipe Massa signs off his career in F1 for the second and expected final time at Williams, and with Toro Rosso having confirmed Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley last week, his seat is one of only three left to fill for 2018, and the most attractive.

McLaren and Honda also bring to an end their partnership after three troubled seasons, but on the bright side will look to score points for a third straight race together, which hasn’t happened since the Hungarian, German and Belgian Grands Prix of 2016.

As ever, and perhaps for the final time as a collective unit, Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will be on the call with Will Buxton reporting from the pits and paddock.

Here’s the F1 schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, Nov. 24, 4 a.m.-5:30 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Nov. 24, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Nov. 25, 5 a.m.-6 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Nov. 25, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-10:55 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)