One of the more fascinating subplots of the 2013 NASCAR season is seeing how Kevin Harvick and team owner Richard Childress coexist in what will be their final year together.
This drama was created by the fact that Harvick has already made it known he will be leaving the team effective at the end of the year. In addition, Childress has been grooming his grandchildren, Austin and Ty Dillon, to move up to the Sprint Cup Series sooner rather than later -- possibly to fill the vacancy created by Harvick's impending departure.
All combined makes it easy to wonder whether either party will be focused 100 percent on 2013 and not be quick to turn their attention to what is to come in 2014.
However, both Harvick and Childress say they are committed fully to the season ahead, with both wanting to make sure they end their partnership on the highest note possible.
"You have a lot of respect for Richard and the organization, and you don't want to leave a black mark as you leave," Harvick said Monday during the Sprint Media Tour. "You want to do it with much class, and everything that goes with being classy about it.
"We're going to race, we're all racers. ... In a go-kart race or whatever it may be, you want to go out and you want to win, and nobody's going to do anything less than work as hard as they can to achieve those goals."
Childress echoed his driver's comments and praised Harvick for all that he has done for Richard Childress Racing.
"We're going to handle it professional," Childress said. "We're going to do our best to win that championship. Kevin has played a big role at RCR and we wish him well in his next venture. But we're going to keep RCR going."
And part of keeping RCR going involves the aforementioned Dillon brothers.
Austin is coming off his first season in the Nationwide Series where he won two races, posted 27 top 10s in 33 starts and was named Rookie of the Year. Younger brother Ty achieved similar success in the Camping World Truck Series and will make limited starts in both Cup and Nationwide in addition to running the full slate of Truck Series races.
But the ascension of the Dillon brothers to Cup on a full-time basis will have to wait, as the focus is on this season and what will be Harvick's swan song with RCR.
Historically, lame-duck drivers have had a mixed bag of success, as frayed feelings can easily rip a team apart and affect the performance level. But on this end, Harvick is confident it won't happen to the organization he's been with for the last 14 years.
"I've been around my team a lot over the past several weeks and feel good about where everybody's mindset is," he said. "Those guys don't care about what anybody thinks upstairs, they just want to win races, and that's where I'm at. You just approach it, and we go out and do our jobs.
"I mean, the bottom line is, we're all getting paid to do a job, and represent these companies behind me to do the best job we can."