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


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.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.