Earlier on Friday, Stewart-Haas Racing officially announced that Kevin Harvick would be joining the team to drive a No. 4 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry, beginning in 2014. The announcement also included details of Harvick bringing primary sponsor Budweiser with him in the move from Richard Childress Racing to SHR. Later, Tony Stewart talked to the media while at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, and the main topic of conversation was Harvick’s hiring. Here’s what Stewart had to say:
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF KEVIN HARVICK AND BUDWEISER JOINING STEWART-HAAS RACING? CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR VERSION OF HOW IT ALL CAME DOWN:
“Oh I’m excited it’s something that obviously has been in the works for a while. I think Gene (Haas) is really excited about having him and I know I’m excited about having him as well. The entire organization is excited about having him come on board. It was a lot of work to get to that. It started two years ago, I guess, was the thought process of hiring another driver. Just went through those steps obviously to get where we are today. It’s not something that a decision was made overnight there were a lot of processes in between that made it a long journey, but we are here.”
WITH THIS ANNOUNCEMENT WITH NOW HAVING THREE DRIVERS FOR NEXT YEAR HOW DOES THIS IMPACT RYAN NEWMAN, HIS PROGRAM, ARE YOU GUYS READY TO EXPAND TO A FOURTH TEAM?
“No, we are not ready to expand to a fourth team. Unfortunately, this will be the last year that we have Ryan (Newman) with us. That’s probably what has made this a bittersweet day. I’m bringing in another one of my friends to the organization, but also knowing that I’m losing a friend at the end of the year to the organization. The number one thing when Ryan and I spoke is that our friendship will not change. This was a business decision that was Gene’s (Haas) as well as mine and it was a hard decision. There is a personal side and there is a business side. For Ryan and I we had to put the personal bit of it aside to work through the business part. I’ll do everything I can to help Ryan in any way I can moving forward to try to help him in his effort to find another team next year. I’m behind him 100 percent. I believe in him 100 percent. I truly wish we were able to facilitate four teams at this time. We are just not able to do that. Down the road I’m sure if that becomes a possibility that he will most definitely will be on the list to fill the fourth seat again.”
DO YOU HAVE THE REST OF THE CAR FOR KEVIN HARVICK SOLD OR ARE YOU STILL LOOKING FOR SPONSORSHIP FOR HALF THE SEASON?
“We are still looking right now. We have been in discussions with many companies right now and got a long way with multiple companies at this point. We have a lot of confidence that will be taking care of very shortly.”
WHEN TEAM OWNERS ARE LOOKING FOR DRIVERS TO FILL SEATS A LOT OF TIMES THEY LOOK AT COMPETITORS THAT WILL PUSH OTHER COMPETITORS IS THAT ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS OTHER THAN YOUR FRIENDSHIP WITH HIM THAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR HIM BECAUSE HE’S OF THE CALIBER OF DRIVER THAT HE WOULD PUSH YOU TO UP YOUR GAME AS WELL?
“Well and Ryan (Newman) did that too and that was exactly why we hired Ryan, but it is exactly that way with Kevin (Harvick) as well. It’s somebody that because of our working relationship when I drove the Nationwide car I know how competitive he is. I know how much he pushes the guys. I know how he pushes myself as a driver and I know how we communicated and that’s a big factor is communication. It is what you said as well as the communication factor and the fact that we know each other so well.”
KEVIN (HARVICK) TALKED ABOUT WHEN HE SIGNED THIS DEAL THERE WAS NO ASSURANCES THAT BUDWEISER WAS GOING TO GO ALONG WITH HIM CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOUR TEAM SORT OF MADE THAT HAPPEN AND ALSO DOES THIS MEAN THE END OF SCHLITZ IN TONY STEWART’S LIFE?
“Yeah, I’m finally upgrading to the good stuff. Feel like the Jefferson’s now I’ve moved up. Yeah, it’s the end of my Schlitz era. I can’t say that it’s terribly disappointing. Now I get to drink the good stuff everyday guilt free.
“Brett Frood is obviously as you guys know a big crucial part we run our business at Stewart-Haas and Brett is the one that pretty much knows all the answers to that question about how we worked with Budweiser to get to this point. Brett was very much a driving force in working with them to see if they wanted to come over here.”
KEVIN (HARVICK) TALKED ABOUT ONE OF THE REASONS HE MADE THE MOVE IS TO REJUVENATE HIS CAREER TO KIND OF GET THINGS SPICED UP AGAIN. YOU KIND OF DID THE SAME THING WHEN YOU WENT OVER TO STEWART-HAAS RACING AND MATT (KENSETH) SEEMED TO HAVE DONE THE SAME THING. DOES IT JUST COME A POINT IN A DRIVERS LIFE WHERE YOU KIND OF FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO SHAKE THINGS UP?
“Yeah, I think with different drivers at different times. That is why you see in this series you will see driver/crew chief combinations like Ray Evernham and Jeff (Gordon) when Ray went and made his move and did something different. It does work that way there are times when you feel like that things get stagnant. It doesn’t mean you don’t respect and don’t care about the people that you are working with, but sometimes you just need something new and something that brings that intensity back to 100 percent. I think this will do that for Kevin.”
IS THE BUDWEISER DEAL JUST WITH KEVIN HARVICK’S CAR OR IS THERE ADDITIONAL BUSINESS TO BUSINESS WITH THAT?
“As far as I know it’s just with Kevin’s car so far as far as I’m aware.”