Sprint Cup champ Kevin Harvick shut out in AP Athlete of Year award vote

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The Associated Press has handed out its Male and Female Athlete of the Year Awards, and they’ve respectively gone to two worthy winners: The San Francisco Giants’ World Series hero Madison Bumgarner and Little League World Series phenom Mo’ne Davis.

But NASCAR didn’t get a lot of love in the voting for either one of the honors.

Danica Patrick improved in her second season of Sprint Cup competition but that was only enough to get her one vote for the AP’s Female award.

Still, it was better than what her Stewart-Haas Racing teammate and new Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick got for the AP’s Male award: Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Now, we shouldn’t lament too much for Harvick, who captured the prestigious Driver of the Year award for his 2014 efforts.

But considering that Jimmie Johnson finished third for the AP Male award in 2013 after winning his sixth career Cup title, it’s a bit jarring to not see Harvick anywhere on this year’s vote count.

It ran as follows: Bumgarner, 38; Clayton Kershaw, 13; Derek Jeter and Rory McIlroy, seven votes each; Peyton Manning, five; Tim Howard and Lionel Messi, four votes each; Tim Duncan and Aaron Rodgers, three votes each; Novak Djokovic, Richard Sherman, and Tom Brady, two votes each; Thomas Mueller, Sidney Crosby, Marcus Mariota, and LeBron James, one vote each.

Harvick’s season wasn’t an altogether perfect one. But while he had multiple mishaps on his way to the Chase, many of those can be placed at the feet of his pit crew (which got swapped out for the crew of teammate/boss Tony Stewart before the Chase). There were a few mechanical failures sprinkled in as well.

But once the post-season rolled around, Harvick and the No. 4 team brought it all together with three victories in the last six races – including consecutive triumphs at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami that enabled Harvick to win it all.

His year might not have been enough to eclipse those of Bumgarner and the other top vote getters. OK, that’s fine.

But to have it not gain even a single vote is a surprise – and it’s not a very good one.

Charlie Kimball joins A.J. Foyt Racing; Tony Kanaan expected back

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A.J. Foyt has hired Charlie Kimball to drive its No. 4 Chevrolet in the 2020 NTT IndyCar season.

Kimball will return to a full-time schedule after seven races last season with Carlin Racing. This will mark his 10th consecutive season of driving in IndyCar. In 141 starts, he has one victory (in 2013 at Mid-Ohio).

“I wouldn’t have survived another partial schedule, and I’m not sure my marriage would have survived,” Kimball said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. “It was really tough watching in races when I wasn’t in the car. The consistency allows me to stay in the rhythm.”

A.J. Foyt Racing fielded cars last year for Matheus Leist in the No. 4 and Tony Kanaan in the No. 14. Team president Larry Foyt told reporters that the No. 14 car’s 2020 schedule was “a work in progress and hopefully have some news on that in the next few weeks.”

Asked if Kanaan, who has driven for Foyt since 2018, still will be with the team, Foyt said, “I’m sure he will. We’ve been working together and getting everything buttoned up.”

Here’s the full release from A.J. Foyt Racing:

Veteran IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball joins AJ Foyt Racing as the full-time driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet with backing from his long-time sponsor Novo Nordisk. The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season marks Kimball’s 10th consecutive season in IndyCar and his 12th season of partnership with the global healthcare company.

Kimball, who ran a partial season of seven races in 2019, returns as a full-time driver in the 17-race NTT IndyCar Series this year. The No. 4 car will carry a Novo Nordisk branded livery in the following races: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, GMR Grand Prix (Indianapolis), Texas Indy 600 (Ft. Worth), Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway (Madison, Ill.) and the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Novo Nordisk will be an associate marketing partner in the remaining 11 races.

“I’m excited and honored to join AJ Foyt Racing and be a part of a team that has such deep roots in history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar,” said Kimball, who lives in Indianapolis. “Continuing the partnership with Novo Nordisk is also special since they have been an integral part of my career since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I’m more motivated than ever to work with the team to succeed at every IndyCar race in 2020. Thank you to AJ Foyt Racing, Novo Nordisk and our other partners for this opportunity.”

Team President Larry Foyt expects the partnership with Novo Nordisk and the addition of Charlie Kimball, an IndyCar Series race winner at Mid-Ohio (2013) and a pole winner at Texas Motor Speedway (2017), to invigorate his No. 4 Texas-based team this season.

“Charlie brings a great deal of experience and skill to the team,” Foyt said. “He is motivated to show what he can do behind the wheel, and his recent experience of helping develop cars will be beneficial as we work to get the 4 car moving up the grid. Novo Nordisk has been a long-time supporter of Charlie and IndyCar. We want to welcome them to AJ Foyt Racing and we look forward to joining them in their effort to increase the awareness of diabetes.”

Kimball has posted six podium (top-3) finishes, and an additional eight top-5s. He has finished in the top-10 (6th through 10th) 41 times and has led 163 laps in 141 races.

“We are proud to continue our long-term partnership with Charlie Kimball and look forward to an exciting 2020 IndyCar season with the legendary AJ Foyt Racing,” said Brian Hilberdink, Senior Vice President, Commercial Diabetes at Novo Nordisk. “For more than a decade, we’ve utilized our involvement in IndyCar to share Charlie’s inspiring journey living with diabetes through the Race with Insulin initiative. Charlie is one of the most active ambassadors in the diabetes community and his passion and commitment to making a difference in the lives of those who are living with diabetes is unwavering. We look forward to continuing this tradition with AJ Foyt Racing, Charlie and the diabetes community throughout the IndyCar season.”

Foyt expects to make further announcements regarding new primary sponsors for the team in the near future.