When it came down to it, Kevin Harvick had just one big reason to leave Richard Childress Racing for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Over the past dozen years, Harvick and Childress won 23 races, including the biggest ones in the Sprint Cup Series. They were among the top driver-owner combinations in NASCAR. Yet, they weren’t able to accomplish the goal which Harvick wanted the most.
“We hadn’t won a championship there and it had been 12 years or whatever it was,” Harvick said. “We had never been able to accomplish that. It is the first time I hadn’t been able to accomplish that in any division in my racing career. So it was something I wanted to figure out personally. One thing after another kept getting evaluated and it didn’t feel like I was making any progress of getting closer. With Tony (Stewart) and Gene (Haas) and the commitment they made and the alliance they had with the Hendrick bunch and Hendrick engines, it was intriguing to go try and win the championship.”
This Sunday, Harvick will try to take a step towards that goal when he races the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Another win would give him some serious momentum, following his victory at Phoenix two weeks ago.
Harvick is part of a four-driver lineup which includes former Sprint Cup champions Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch, along with media favorite Danica Patrick.
Many have wondered if the four star drivers can survive the season as teammates.
“I hadn’t thought about it as much as everybody else,” he said. “You come in and try to do your job. It’s expected for everybody to figure it out and get along as professionals. We can all benefit each other. We all want to win. I truly feel we can benefit from pushing each other. When you have more fast cars, you’re going to evolve your cars. You’re not going to have that happen when you have one out of four fast cars.”
It’s been a definite time of change for Harvick and his family. They has lived at Harvick’s mother-in-law’s house for the past seven months after their own home was damaged in a fire.
Professionally, Harvick can’t stress enough how much he wants to become a Sprint Cup champion. It’s no secret, he and Busch have had their past battles. While he and Stewart have been longtime friends, they even roughed up each other at the end of the 2007 Food City 500.
Still, Harvick sees great benefits from working with the two former champions. His tenure at RCR was marked by years of being in the middle of the title fight and then some finishes well outside the Chase.
“I’ve been there, and then I’ve finished 21st in the points,” he said. “This is an organization which won a championship two years ago, and we have access to an organziation which has won six of them recently at Hendrick Motorsports. You have Hendrick chassis and engines, and a whole new group of people to compare notes with.”
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