Harvick keeps Bud, will drive No. 4 for Stewart-Haas
Friday, July 12, 2013
LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Kevin Harvick was stuck in a rut after so many empty seasons chasing a championship with Richard Childress Racing.
“When you show up to the same desk for 12 or 13 years, you’re like, ‘Man, I need a new desk,’” Harvick said.
More like a new team.
So Harvick will swap the car, get a new work address, even change his number.
Just toss him a cooler — he’s keeping the beer.
Harvick will take his Budweiser sponsorship with him when he makes his long-awaited move to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. Harvick will have Budweiser on the No. 4 Chevrolet as the primary sponsor for 20 races in 2014.
“It was just me needing to rejuvenate myself,” Harvick said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Harvick’s move had been brewing since he made the decision last year to bolt the RCR team that hired him in 1999. He’s made the most of his lame-duck season, with two wins and eight straight top-10s in the No. 29 to park him in fourth place in the points standings.
For many reasons, including a close friendship with Tony Stewart, Harvick is set to move on.
So is Ryan Newman.
Harvick’s arrival means one driver in the SHR stable had to go. Newman’s time is up after this season. Stewart, Harvick and Danica Patrick will drive the SHR entries next season.
“We’re not ready to expand to a fourth team,” Stewart said. “That’s what’s made this a bittersweet day. I’m bringing in another one of my friends to the organization, also knowing that I’m losing a friend at the end of the year. ... This was a business decision.”
Newman, 16th in the points race, could fill the empty seat at RCR. Kurt Busch, who drives for Furniture Row Racing, is a potential candidate along with Childress’ grandson, Austin Dillon. Childress has Paul Menard and Jeff Burton under contract. He could just replace Harvick or add a fourth car.
Childress is openly grooming his organization for his grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon, who are currently competing in NASCAR’s lower national levels.
Harvick has represented Budweiser since 2011. Bud has been a staple in the Cup Series dating back to its sponsorship of Terry Labonte’s No. 44 Chevrolet at Stratograph Racing in 1983. Budweiser has celebrated a championship and nearly 60 wins in NASCAR’s elite division with the likes of Darrell Waltrip, Geoff Bodine, Bill Elliott, Kenny Schrader, Ricky Craven, Wally Dallenbach, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Harvick.
“We didn’t want to go through our fourth driver in seven, eight years and build up new equity with a new driver,” said Blaise D’Sylva, vice president of media, sports and entertainment marketing at Anheuser-Busch. “Kevin’s done a great job during that space.”
D’Sylva said Childress put some “very attractive” offers on the table to remain with RCR. But, after surveying NASCAR fans and Budweiser drinkers, the company found there was as a strong, successful connection between the driver and the brand. So they’ll stick with him.
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