By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kevin Harvick won’t be going anywhere in the foreseeable future as the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion confirmed Saturday that he’ll be staying with Stewart-Haas Racing through 2023.
This came to be after earlier this week that he would be stepping down from doing television and radio broadcasting this season to focus on family, his own agency (KHI Management) and racing.
“There are a number of things that went into those decisions. First and foremost, Wednesday’s just don’t work very well for me with Keelan with picking him up from school and going to events and activities and things after school. He didn’t really like it,” Harvick explained during media availability. “It frees up another day for me. That was a piece of the equation. The other piece was that in order to do that stuff right, it isn’t just the show. It is the production meetings and the time and you have things coming up from a development standpoint that are going to take a lot of time at the end of the year to get prepared for 2021 from a testing standpoint.
“For me, I am intrigued by that. For me, that will keep me in the car for a few more years as we go through 2023 and then we will see where we are at.”
In a time period where many of the greats have retired over the past five years, the 44-year-old explained his mindset these next four seasons.
“That timing works well for me from a media standpoint just because of the fact that you have a TV contract coming up and will know who the players are and I think at that particular point you will have a fair amount of experience in the new car and will hopefully have been through the engine change, the vehicle change. There were a number of things that go along with that,” Harvick said.
“I just really like racing with a group of guys and my organization that I am at. I worked my whole career and feel like I got here with a group of guys and the people that I have had success with and for me, going through a few more years in the car just made sense.”
Harvick also confirmed that prior to extending his deal, he was signed with SHR through 2021. However, like drivers retiring, several drivers are entering contract years, including Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski.
The 2007 Daytona 500 champion gave an eye-opening take on this hot topic that’ll be a dominant discuss throughout the season, mentioning the new car expected to debut in 2021 and salary caps.
“I think from a team standpoint everyone was trying to be prepared for what 2021 brought and if the new car was going to actually happen, if there would be a salary cap, what would come with that,” Harvick said. “So that you don’t wind up in a position where you are overcommitted when you don’t have to be. Especially with some of the contracts that are up. Some of those guys aren’t getting paid enough, some are getting overpaid.
“There is a balance between the owners that, in my opinion, didn’t want to take a risk and put themselves in a bad position knowing that you are going to spend three to five million dollars a car to switch over to the new car, you have to have some leeway to cut some financials.”
Harvick continued explaining by using Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Chris Buescher as prime examples of how a team makes decisions financially. Stenhouse, who now drives for JTG Daugherty Racing, was replaced by Buescher after driving for Roush Fenway Racing since moving up the national touring ranks in 2009.
“We saw Roush do it last year with Stenhouse. That was purely a financial move with a guy that they were already paying in Buescher,” Harvick said. “Now that you step back and you look at that and think about it and you understand the economics of the whole thing, it has to work for the owners. There are some big costs out in front of them.
“Look at the testing this year. It adds into this year too. In order to put a new car on the race track you have to go test it and it has to be real and be on the track and in order to go racing you will have to put your car on the track. There are some costs you have to absorb this year as well.
“Then you have the end of the season stuff with all the new parts and pieces and what your structure looks like. Is there a salary cap? What does it all entail? I think the main reason many of those contracts are up is that there are a number of unknowns from a financial standpoint.”
With a secured ride in the No. 4 Busch Ford Mustang, the mindset shifts contract negotiations to focusing on winning more races and championships as this season will mark Harvick’s 20th Cup campaign.