Having won the 2007 Daytona 500 as well as three Busch Clash races, Kevin Harvick knows his way around the Daytona International Speedway. It had to be disappointing to admit that his No. 4 team felt behind the 8-ball after a qualifying effort Sunday that saw his team 12th on the speed charts. But those concerns were minor. After all, Harvick signed a contract extension with Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season only days before. That’s a major milestone on a number of levels.
“If I didn’t feel good about it, I wouldn’t have done it,” Harvick said of his new deal. “[I’ve been] working my whole career to get with a group of guys that I like to race with. The situation I’m in now with Tony [Stewart] and Gene [Haas], the way they run the team, and all the people that are working there, it’s a group of racers.
“It’s hard to imagine not taking advantage of that as long as you can … I know how hard it is to get into a situation like that.”
It’s not just Harvick that’s feeling good about the extension. Said teammate Aric Almirola, “Having Kevin on board, he’s a tremendous leader for our organization. So I think that’s really important, to have him stabilized.”
Truly, Harvick’s move from Richard Childress Racing to the Stewart-Haas organization in 2014 has resulted in a career renaissance. Since joining SHR, Harvick has scored 26 of his 49 career Cup wins, 25 of his 31 career Cup poles, and his first Cup title. In fact, despite entering his 20th full-time season of Cup racing, Harvick’s career is on an upward track, and has him looking at the major changes coming to NASCAR in 2021 as a challenge to be embraced, rather than as a rationale for retiring — as in the case of seven-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson.
“I’m enjoying being at the racetrack,” Harvick told Frontstretch. “[A lot of] things are going to happen this year, testing a new car and developing a new car that is drastically different. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
In the fitness-obsessed Cup Series of 2020, Harvick attributes his continuing longevity to a different kind of fitness: enthusiasm.
“I’m kind of a late bloomer when it comes to that,” Harvick said. “[But] it’s enjoyable, and we’re winning.
“It’s a great situation, and I feel like I’m in good spot physically and mentally. That plays a big deal in what we do, because the grind is so heavy.”
While Harvick had plenty to say about the fun he’s having as the driver of the No. 4, the business side wasted no time coming out. A former Xfinity and Truck Series owner, Harvick today owns a sports marketing firm. Unsurprisingly, those types of concerns were just as big a driver of this recent contract extension as the wins the No. 4 team has continued to find.
“Rodney [Childers, crew chief] and I talked about it way back at the first Bristol, just where he was, where I was, just trying to have an understanding,” Harvick said.
“I don’t like being in the mix of all those conversations and people speculating on what I’m going to do, because it affects what we do with sponsorship. It affects what we do to be able to go after good people.
“It’s something we had to get out of the way.”
It’s out of the way now. For Stewart-Haas Racing, it’s four more years of Kevin Harvick in the No. 4.