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Harvick: I Never Talked to Hendrick

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, May 20 2016
Kevin Harvick talked about his contract with Stewart-Haas Racing on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Andrew Coppley)

Kevin Harvick talked about his contract with Stewart-Haas Racing on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Andrew Coppley)

CONCORD, N.C. – Kevin Harvick said Friday he never talked with Hendrick Motorsports about joining the organization and that his contract talks with Stewart-Haas Racing were the result of NASCAR’s charter program.

“I had an automatic two-year extension that the team held,” Harvick explained to the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway as teams prepared for Saturday’s Sprint All-Star race. “But I think as you stood back and looked at it there were a lot of things that changed in the sport and within our team.

“We had a lot of sponsorship things that wanted to do things further than really where we were. So, we sat back and said, ‘OK, let’s mutually agree just to forget that contract and let’s restructure everything.’ It was a mutually agreed restructure to extend the contract and make it go further so that we could extend our sponsorships and extend our relationships that we had to make them longer. It was just extending an extension that needed to put in place.”

Stewart-Haas Racing announced Thursday that Harvick had signed a long-term contract extension with the team. Harvick’s crew chief Rodney Childers signed a multi-year contract extension with the organization last June.

Thursday’s announcement dispelled rumors that had persisted since February that Harvick would replace Kasey Kahne at Hendrick Motorsports next year due to SHR’s decision to switch from Chevrolet to Ford in 2017.

“It got so out of control that I actually went to Kasey Kahne and I said, ‘Look, man, here’s what’s going on,’” Harvick said. “I told him there’s not been one person that’s called me from your organization and I want you to have trust in your team. I want you to believe in your team. I want you to keep working on the things that you’re working on, but here’s where it’s at. Here’s what I’m doing. Here’s what I see. Here’s how it’s going to go.”

The restructuring of payments to the teams due to NASCAR’s charter program that was implemented this year was the catalyst that triggered the contract conversations, Harvick said.   

“Things snowballed from there into well, let’s just make this better since we’re going to have to work on one portion,” Harvick said. “Let’s just get rid of the whole thing and start over and just make it all right so it’s all right going forward and everybody’s on the same page.”

Harvick said most everything was done in four- or five-year increments. That means when the new contract expires, the California native will be in his mid-40s. He said he didn’t know if he would want to retire at that time.

“I’m going to quit when I feel like I’m not having fun anymore or I’m not competitive,” the 40-year-old Harvick said. “I’m not going to commit to quit before it’s too soon.”

Harvick doesn’t have plans to compete in the Xfinity Series under his new contract, but he hasn’t ruled it out entirely. He said he would compete in three to five Xfinity races if the right opportunity existed.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, May 20 2016
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