CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kevin Harvick, thrust into the late Dale Earnhardt's ride after the seven-time Winston Cup champion was killed in the season-opening Daytona 500, was selected NASCAR rookie of the year on Monday.
Harvick, 25, beat out Kurt Busch for the award by 66 points. He won two races this season, had six top-five finished and 16 top 10s while winning more than $3 million.
He finished the year in ninth place in the final point standings, becoming the only driver to ever crack the top 10 despite not competing in the full schedule. Harvick raced in only 35 events, not participating in the Daytona 500.
Harvick, who had planned to run in only the Busch series this year before Earnhardt's death, also won the championship in that series. He ran in both races on most weekends, even when the two events were at different venues.
Casey Atwood finished third in the rookie standings and was followed by Jason Leffler and Ron Hornaday. The award is determined by the sum of entry points, competition points, top-10 points, segment bonus points, rookie of the year panel points and final driver championship standing bonus points.