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NASCAR mailbag: Evaluating Kevin Harvick’s future with Stewart-Haas Racing

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Whether Kevin Harvick remains with Stewart-Haas Racing next season and Kyle Busch dominating Xfinity Series races are the questions answered in the weekly mailbag.

One of the closest finishes in NASCAR history elicited a number of emails this week, but the majority of the submissions for the weekly mailbag centered not on Kevin Harvick edging Car Edwards by 0.010 seconds, but Harvick's future with Stewart-Haas Racing.

As always, you can send email questions to

Is it weird Kevin Harvick hasn't mentioned Ford by name when talking about his future with Stewart-Haas or am I reading too much into it?

-- K.P.

Considering Harvick's long allegiance to Chevrolet -- he has a personal services contract with the manufacturer -- and SHR co-owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas steadfastly saying they want to focus on ensuring 2016 is as successful as possible before turning their collective attention to being a Ford-backed team next season, Harvick's avoidance in using the f-word isn't all that strange.

That said, rumors will persist that more changes could be afoot within SHR until all involved formalize their plans. Speculation fueled further by Harvick telling reporters last month he's unsure of his contract situation and Haas echoing those comments in an interview with All of which leads to the second Harvick-related question that encapsulates many emails received since SHR's announcement last month.

Say Kevin Harvick isn't on board with Stewart-Haas jumping to Ford and doesn't want to stop being a Chevy driver, what options does he really have? Going to back Richard Childress [Racing] doesn't seem realistic and the Ganassi cars aren't very good, so that leaves Hendrick [Motorsports], but how would that work?

-- Marty

Let's run through Harvick's choices should he to decide to look elsewhere.

Although Harvick's split with RCR was as amicable as it could be considering the circumstances, Richard Childress has geared the future of his team around grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon, an approach that created some tension during Harvick's final years with the organization. This has a been there, done that feel.

And while the Chip Ganassi Racing option is intriguing if it were to enter into a technical alliance with Hendrick -- essentially filling the void SHR's departure created as Chevrolet's No. 2 team -- Ganassi's history of underachieving is hard to ignore. At this juncture in his career, Harvick is all about championships and signing on with a rebuilding team isn't attractive.

The only feasible option is Harvick joining Hendrick, which would allow him to continue driving the same cars with the same engines he's had great success with over the past three years. There would be no concerns about nepotism nor uncertainty about the organization's level of competitiveness, and his status as a perennial title contender would go unchanged.

As for whom Harvick would replace at Hendrick, that's easy: Kasey Kahne, who's not enjoyed the same success as teammates Jimmie Johnson or Dale Earnhardt Jr., and is not regarded as a future champion like heralded rookie Chase Elliott.

Yes, Kahne signed a contract extension in late 2014 that's supposed to keep him with Hendrick through 2018, but if the option presented itself to land Harvick, Kahne becomes expendable even if it necessitates a buyout.

In the end, however, the idea of Harvick leaving SHR seems far-fetched. His relationship with Stewart overrides any feelings towards Chevrolet and Harvick's current situation is near ideal with him and crew chief Rodney Childers a very formidable combination. All things considered, as Harvick said when speaking with reporters last week, he would be "foolish" to look elsewhere.

I'm sick of Kyle Busch winning Xfinity Series races every week. It's not fun to watch him lead every lap and the races are boring. Why even have the Xfinity Series if Cup drivers are just going to win all the time? When is NASCAR going to do something?

-- Erin

The optics of Busch scoring three consecutive Xfinity wins and in resounding fashion by leading 87 percent of all laps gives the impression NASCAR has an epidemic on its hands. That something, anything, must be done to even the playing field.

Except Cup drivers winning second-tier events has long been an issue. Nor is Busch's dominance unique with Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin each having eras similar to what Busch regularly exhibits now. Last year, Cup drivers won 23 of 33 Xfinity races, which is the same number of victories as Cup drivers recorded in 2005 -- though with two additional races.

NASCAR has taken several steps to combat Cup drivers from cherry-picking the majority of wins, including no longer allowing full-time premier division drivers to amass points in the Xfinity and Truck series. But short of an outright ban, which would cause tracks and television executives to revolt, the sanctioning body has limited options.

Further diversifying the schedule and lessening the number of Xfinity Cup companion races may also be solution, as the travel logistics would prohibit the stars from moonlighting. This too, however, presents challenges.

Drumming up sponsorship is already difficult and the reason many cup drivers run so many Xfinity races is because companies want to be associated with the big names, with little interest investing in an unproven commodity who may or may not deliver results. With more standalone events, there is no guarantee Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske or JR Motorsports could have the necessary sponsorship to race every week and decreasing the amount of quality teams and thus the level of competition, is contrary to what Xfinity and NASCAR's television partners desire.

One conceivable option is to limit how many Xfinity starts a cup driver could make in a given season. And though JGR would just tab Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards or Matt Kenseth, the perception that same guy (Busch) is winning every week would be stunted. After all, there were few calls for change when Austin Dillon was winning last season or when Chase Elliott took the season-opener in February at Daytona International Speedway.