HOMESTEAD, Fla. - In a storybook finish to conclude a revamped Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kevin Harvick won the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday to claim his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

To win the title, Harvick needed to finish ahead of his fellow Championship 4 - and a win was the only way that would've happened. Ryan Newman finished second, Denny Hamlin finished seventh and Joey Logano ended the night in 16th.

After finishing a career-best third in the standings in three of the last four seasons, the 14-year series mainstay finally broke through for the premier series title in his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing.

"That came down to a pit call, and thought oh man, we're in big trouble here," Harvick said after climbing from his No. 4 Chevrolet. "(Crew chief) Rodney Childers and all these guys have just done an amazing job."

Harvick, who led 54 race laps, bettered Newman on front-row restart showdown with three of 267 laps remaining and raced the No. 4 away to a fifth victory this season. Harvick ends the campaign owning eight pole awards along with a combined 14 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes. 

"I was going to hold the pedal down and hope for the best, Harvick.

The season-ending victory made his journey through the first series elimination championship that much more rewarding.

"I'm just really excited. It's really special for everybody. This new format has been stressful, the racing has been phenomenal. I'm going to sleep for a week," he said.

A veteran of all three of NASCAR's national series, Harvick joins Bobby Labonte and Brad Keselowski as the third driver to win both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series crowns. Harvick, 38, is the 30th champion in the 66-year history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He earned the 2006 and 2001 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) championships. 

The No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John's Chevrolet driver showed off his speed throughout 2014, pacing the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led and poles. Following a two-win regular season, Harvick entered the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as its No. 6 seed. He adeptly navigated his way through the Chase's Challenger and Contender Rounds highlighted by his victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but would still be searching for a championship without his clutch performance in the Eliminator Round cutoff race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Entering the penultimate showdown at the one-mile tri-oval last among Chase qualifiers, Harvick needed a win at Phoenix to advance to the Championship 4. He responded to the pressure by leading 264-of-312 laps and beating four-time series champion Jeff Gordon on his way to Victory Lane. The Bakersfield, California, native carried his momentum to Homestead, becoming the first title-winner under NASCAR's new playoff format.

Harvick's championship is the second for Stewart-Haas Racing. The racing outfit jointly owned by three-time premier series champion Tony Stewart and Gene Haas won its first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title behind the driving efforts of Stewart in 2011. No No. 4 team crew chief Rodney Childers, also in his first season with SHR, won his first series crown as well.

Kevin Harvick Championship Extras:

- Harvick is only the third Sprint Cup driver since 2000 to lead more than 2,000 laps in a single season. Harvick led 2,137 laps in 2014. Jimmie Johnson led 2,238 laps in 2009 and Jeff Gordon led 2,320 laps in 2001. Both Johnson and Gordon went on to win the championship in those years.

- Harvick led a lap in 27 of the 36 Sprint Cup races in 2014. His longest streak of consecutive races with at least one lap led was nine, beginning Aug. 23 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and continuing through the Oct. 19 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. His longest stretch of races without a single lap led was three, starting June 28 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta lasting through July 13 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

- The most laps Harvick led in a single Sprint Cup season prior to 2014 was 895 laps in 2006.