Author: Jim Utter
Date: Jan. 26, 2017
Kevin Harvick thinks next week’s NASCAR test at Phoenix International Raceway should be a telling one.
First and foremost on most teams’ agenda is working with a new rules package for 2017. Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing organization has also made another significant change – a manufacturer switch from Chevrolet to Ford in the offseason.
“I think there is definitely a little bit of anxiousness to get on the race track next week,” Harvick said during this week’s NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte, N.C. “We have a new rules package and we know where we were last year from a lot of different avenues, but the hardest things to overcome will be a lot of the things that come with the technology side of things.
“Whether it is pulling things out of the database, putting them into the simulation programs, understanding all the tools we have. There may not be anything that you guys ever see on the race track. We may never miss a beat on the track and that is our goal.”
In three seasons at SHR, and working with crew chief Rodney Childers, Harvick has won 12 races, led more than 5,600 laps and captured the 2014 championship in what is now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Harvick’s No. 4 team has been one of the most consistently dominant teams since it was formed and he would like to see that continue.
From the Bowtie to the Blue Oval
He also knows there may be a transition period needed with all of the changes.
“Our goal is to not miss a beat and contend to win races and progress through the year and get better. Our goals haven’t changed,” he said. “We want to come out of the box strong, compete for race wins and try to run for another championship as we get to the end of the year.
“I think you have to try to temper that enthusiasm a little bit just for the fact that you have to be realistic about all the things we just did. It has been a massive undertaking for the company to not only turn the whole company over from a manufacturer standpoint but to bring in 70 or 80 new people and start your own chassis shop.
“We have done some of these things but never to this magnitude – not because we didn’t know how to do those things before, but just we didn’t want to waste the time because we didn’t have to.”
For the last three seasons, SHR had a technical alliance with Chevrolet power Hendrick Motorsports, from which it received chassis and engine support.
SHR’s move to Ford will make the organization much more self-sufficient. To expect to make such a dramatic change without some pitfalls is unrealistic.
"We just need a direction. We need to know where we stand,” Harvick said. “That is just a little bit of the unknown right now. Obviously, everybody has worked a lot.
“It will be good to get out of the shop and get to the race track next week. It is all going to be good. We will make it that way – you just have to know where to start.”
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