Kevin Harvick joining Stewart-Haas Racing to ‘rejuvenate’ career

Jerry Markland

Kevin Harvick explained his decision to join Stewart-Haas Racing as an opportunity to “rejuvenate” career and it was nothing personal between himself and Richard Childress.

Kevin Harvick equated it to someone who had been going to the same job for years and simply needed something different. This is why after 13 years with Richard Childress Racing he is leaving the team at the end of the season to join Stewart-Haas Racing.

It wasn't that Harvick was necessarily unhappy with RCR, but he felt he needed to revitalize himself. He called it a "business decision" and said it was nothing personal between himself and Richard Childress.

"The decision to make the change was just from a standpoint of needing to make a change from really a personal standpoint to just kind of rejuvenate exactly what you're doing," Harvick said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

"It was just me needing to rejuvenate myself to get to the race track and really be excited to show up to do winter testing and the things that go with it and not just in the same routine," Harvick said. "Just like everybody else's job, sometimes you just need a change to get going again."

Needing to make a dramatic change is something Tony Stewart can relate to, as he left Joe Gibbs Racing following the 2008 season to start his own team.

"There's times when you feel things get stagnant," Stewart said. "That doesn't mean you don't respect the team you're working with. Sometimes you need something new that brings that intensity back. I think this will do that for Kevin."

SHR wasn't the only team to court Harvick, who declined to name the other potential suitors. But the deciding factors centered on his close friendship with Stewart, as well as the team's alliance with Hendrick Motorsports, which supplies SHR with engines and chassis.

"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 said. "Then you add in the Hendrick support side of it and there is a lot to draw from."

When Harvick made his intention to leave RCR known last fall, it was assumed that his current sponsor Budweiser would follow him to SHR. But the two were never a package deal according to the 37-year-old driver.

Initially Stewart only promised Harvick that he would have full sponsorship and there was no mention of Budweiser or any of his other sponsors at RCR (Jimmy John's, Rheem) also coming aboard. Separately, SHR worked out a deal with the company that calls for Budweiser to be the primary sponsor in 20 races and an associate sponsor in the remaining 16 races. The team is still working on additional funding.

"(SHR) basically guaranteed what the car would have on it on the race track and they basically took full responsibility to figure out what direction they wanted to go from a sponsorship standpoint and how to make it go around," Harvick said. "It didn't have one dollar of sponsorship when I signed the contract."

As the details of his new contract with SHR were finalized, it was important to Harvick that his relationship with RCR wasn't jeopardized in their final season together. It was a point of emphasis for him that there would be no infighting and that he would be able to maintain his performance level.

That goal has been accomplished as the Sprint Cup Series enters the second half of its season. Heading into this weekend Harvick has two wins and resides in the fourth position in the standings. He also has finished in the top 10 in a series-best eight consecutive races.

With the speculation on his future plans now over with, Harvick hopes everyone involved can focus on the season at hand.

"It's not like we've detached ourselves from what we're doing and those guys on the (No. 29) team, they don't care about the politics of the sport, they just want to win races," he said. "They like spraying beer in Victory Lane and as a group we're going to do that until we get to [the season finale at] Homestead and we'll start working on the future plans when that race is over."

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