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Kevin Harvick Inc. Is Done With NASCAR Racing

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 9 2011

Kevin Harvick is closing the doors of his KHI Camping World Truck Series operation. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

RICHMOND, Va. – A decision by team owners Kevin and DeLana Harvick to shut down their championship Camping World Truck Series operation and put their 80,000-square-foot-race shop on the market was described Friday by the NASCAR driver as strictly business.

The NASCAR driver’s comments came two days after it was announced Richard Childress Racing and Kevin Harvick Inc. would merge their Nationwide Series efforts beginning in 2012. With the Harvicks’ decision to no longer field three truck teams out of KHI after the 2011 season, 140 people will be searching for employment in a tight job market. Red Bull Racing’s decision to close its NASCAR Sprint Cup operation at the end of the year will leave approximately 200 people unemployed.

“It’s a tough model business-wise,” Harvick said about the truck program. “We have scrimped and scraped and got the sponsorship and things that you need. GM [General Motors] has been a great supporter of everything that we’ve done. But from a business standpoint, sometimes you just have to make the decisions as to what you want to do and for us it just didn’t make sense.

“Our goal right now is to get as many people in a solid position as we can going forward. That is really why we did this so early was to make sure everyone had a great opportunity to

Kevin Harvick and Ron Hornaday Jr. will be parting company. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

fit in with the new situations and make sure they had time to do what they needed to do.”

Since KHI entered NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series in 2002 the Kernersville, N.C.-based operation has collected two championships and 39 victories. It currently leads the owner standings with the No. 2 truck, which has had five different drivers this year. Four-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. pilots the No. 33 KHI Chevrolet, while Nelson Piquet Jr. handles the No. 8. Hornaday and Piquet are fifth and 12th in the driver standings, respectively.

Harvick said KHI would continue, but only as the company handling his personal business, such as his Website and fan club.

“There’s a lot of factors that went into a lot of the decisions that were made,” said Harvick,who noted his Nationwide schedule would increase next year. “As you look back, when RCR decided not to run the Nationwide cars, the cars were different. As the (Cup and Nationwide) cars have migrated back to the same chassis, a lot of the tires, a lot of the same things … it makes more sense from a performance standpoint for us to put them back at RCR to utilize the pieces. The technical inspections have become extremely difficult for a stand-alone team to not make all the things right. To make the same things right that need to be right in order to keep up with Cup teams, you have to be in a Cup shop. That is the unfortunate part about where we are with the processes and things that come with the Nationwide cars.

“Obviously, DeLana and I will still be involved in the team and working through a lot of processes to take the best groups of the two people at RCR and KHI and put them together and make better race teams from the Cup side; from the Nationwide side.”

Harvick noted he would continue to be involved with everything at RCR and that would

DeLana Harvick. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

allow him to spend more time with his Cup team.

“(It) takes an extreme amount of pressure off of me as a driver and an owner,” Harvick commented. “I think when you look at the personal time that we get back from DeLana and my standpoint, it’s just a tremendous amount of time.”

Harvick said the Nationwide team merger had been in the process for months, but it wasn’t finished until 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, which was the reason he by-passed President Obama’s invitation to the White House.

“This is as far as it could get pushed because the most important part of the season on the Cup side is coming up and I needed to sit here today and answer all these questions and set the record straight,” Harvick said. “I need to go into the last 10 weeks with a one-track mind and that’s to run that Cup car as fast as it’ll go and be a part of that team. The only thing that I want to do that we have not been able to accomplish in my career is win a Sprint Cup championship. Cup cars make it all go around. Without the Cup car being successful … trucks don’t exist, Nationwide cars don’t exist and the sponsors aren’t there. We are lucky that the sponsors are all there and things have gone good over the last several years. That Cup championship is what we are after.”

Harvick still believes NASCAR’s truck series is “great” and he would like to continue competing in some truck races.

“There was no financial issues. We were making it work,” the Bakersfield, Calif., native said. “But sometimes you just feel like you have got to get something out of it. We were winning races and loved to be a part of that, but in the end, it’s business.”

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 9 2011
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