One cannot state surprise that the two friends who are fierce competitors on the track will be teammates in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Both Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart have alluded to the possibility on and off for a number of years. The surprise was the news broke today when co-team owner of Stewart-Haas Racing leaked the news on ESPN.com before the Cup teams starting their qualifying for this weekend’s race at Phoenix International Raceway.
It now appears that long time driver for Richard Childress Racing will finish his contract with the team in 2013 in his 13th season with the Chevrolet RCR team. In 2014, Harvick will be with Stewart as the duo take on the challenge for the championship. Or will he?
Even later when the news broke around the NASCAR garages, Childress was mum about the deal.
When the news broke during his usual Friday press conference, Stewart claimed, “Well, it’s actually Dale, Jr. (SMILES BROADLY). And Marty Smith (ESPN Television personality and website reporter) is actually going to be in the fourth car. Yes, that’s where we are at. (SMILES BROADLY) I will tell you this, when we have something to tell you guys, we’ll tell you. I’ve always said that. You guys can throw darts, but when we have something to tell you that’s different than what we’ve got going on, we’ll obviously tell you.”
Later the 2011 Sprint Cup champion admitted it was Harvick.
Ryan Newman was renewed for next year but only for one year: 2013. Thus the groundwork was laid for Harvick to finish out his RCR contract or was it?
Danica Patrick races for SHR and she is expected to race the full 2013 season in the team’s third Chevrolet. With Harvick on the SHR team in 2014 that adds up to a three-car team. Yet there is a very good chance that the team will field four cars; keeping Newman on board.
Thus the final question in this driver shuffle will become clearer as this weekend continues, or at least one hopes. Prior to the wildfire spreading in Phoenix and the confirmation that Harvick jumping ship in 2014, SHR team spokesman Mike Arning commented, "Stewart-Haas Racing's driver lineup is all set for 2013, but if you're talking about 2014 and if Kevin Harvick is available, that's something the team would have to look at. Any team in this garage would do the same.”
Both Harvick and Stewart apparently confirmed the agreement that they made for the 2014 season. Yet they also denied that the deal is not yet written in stone.