Good News For Harvick; Not For Newman at SHR
By Mike Harris | Senior Writer
LOUDON, NH – Everything is falling into place for Kevin Harvick.
Even as he races toward a spot in NASCAR’s 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 29 Chevrolet, Harvick’s 2014 ride at Stewart Haas Racing is coming together.
A big piece of the puzzle fell into place on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when it was announced that current key sponsor Budweiser will make the jump to SHR with Harvick, adorning a No. 4 Chevrolet for 20 of the 36 Cup races next season.
But Harvick, a lame duck driver at RCR since announcing his move at the preseason media tour, insists he is simply concentrating on doing the best job he can for his current team and letting the folks at Stewart Haas handle the details of the move.
“I signed a deal with Stewart Haas Racing and everybody was pretty sensitive to the fact that we still had another year,’’ the 38-year-old Harvick said Friday.
A big part of the deal, according to Harvick, was team co-owner Gene Haas guaranteeing that Harvick would be on track every week whether he had sponsorship or not.
“For those guys (at SHR) to take the responsibility and say, `If we don’t have sponsorship, then the car will be on the racetrack and will be funded,’ that’s a real big deal,’’ Harvick said. “I think it was important for both sides to have the 29 car be competitive and winning races (this year) and doing the things that we’ve been able to do.’’
So far, so good.
Heading into Sunday’s New Hampshire 301, Harvick is fourth in the standings with 15 top-10 finishes, including two wins, in 18 starts.
Another big reason for the move is Harvick’s friendship with two-time Cup champion Stewart, who also was instrumental is helping his buddy get his own team, Kevin Harvick Inc., off the ground.
“For me, the situation with Tony and having that relationship with a guy that is going to be sitting in the cars next to you and having that kind of teammate that has won championships and a team that has won championships in the last couple of years is something that is just exciting,’’ Harvick explained. “Then you add in the Hendrick (Motorsports) support side of it and there is a lot to draw from.’’
Harvick was a virtual unknown when he stepped into the seat at RCR vacated in 2001 when Dale Earnhardt was killed at Daytona. Since then, he has established himself as a Cup star in his own right, winning 21 races and finishing in the top five in the points five times, including third in 2010 and 2011.
But, obviously, a Cup championship is still the main goal
Harvick said leaving old friend Richard Childress and his team is nothing personal or an indictment that they did anything wrong.
“It was just me needing to rejuvenate myself to get to the racetrack and really be excited to show up for winter testing and the things that go with it, and not just in the same routine,’’ Harvick added. “Just like everybody else’s job, sometimes you just need a change to get going again.’’
Stewart confirmed on Friday that Harvick’s arrival will mean the departure of Ryan Newman from SHR.
“That’s probably what has made this a bittersweet day,’’ Stewart said. “I’m bringing in another one of my friends to the organization, but also knowing that I’m losing a friend at the end of the year to the organization.
“The No. 1 thing when Ryan and I spoke is that our friendship will not change. This was a business decision that was Gene’s as well as mine, and it was a hard decision. … I’ll do everything I can to help Ryan in any way I can moving forward, to try to help him in his effort to find another team next year.
“I truly wish we were able to facilitate four teams at this time.’’
– Mike Harris can be reached at email@example.com Comments