Kevin Harvick hoping for revival
He needed a change to rejuvenate his career.
Speaking publicly for the first time on his move to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, Harvick said his decision to switch organizations was nothing personal against team owner Richard Childress.
Mark Garrow is at New Hampshire Motor Speedway where Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick made it official as Harvick will join SHR in 2014 driving the #4 Budweiser Chevy.
He said it also had nothing to do with the inconsistencies he has gone through performance-wise since replacing Dale Earnhardt after the seven-time champion was killed in the 2001 Daytona 500.
"The decision to make a change was just from the standpoint of needing to make a change from a personal standpoint just to rejuvenate what you're doing," Harvick said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
That SHR offered Harvick the opportunity to join forces with longtime friend Stewart and move to an organization that won the championship two years ago with Stewart, not to mention SHR's association with powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports, also played a role.
"It wasn't anything personal from Richard's standpoint or the team's standpoint of doing anything wrong," Harvick said. "It was me trying to rejuvenate myself and be excited to do winter testing and things that go with it.
"Just like everybody else's job, sometimes you need a change to get going again."
Earlier in the day, it was announced that Budweiser, Harvick's primary sponsor at RCR since 2011, would move with him to SHR as he begins a multiyear deal. Harvick said there were no guarantees Budweiser would come with him when he agreed to the new deal, that Stewart and co-owner Gene Haas assured he would be on the track regardless.
The faith they showed in him played a role in the decision.
"There's something to be said about having that guarantee to be on the racetrack," Harvick said.
Making Harvick's move official also ended speculation of whether Ryan Newman would remain with SHR after this season. Newman said Stewart called him on Wednesday to inform him he would not be back at SHR in 2014.
"I do not know what my future holds,'' Newman said. "I have no idea at this time.''
"I can't say I'm happy with how everything unfolded. I know there are business decisions, and business decisions sometimes trump friendships.''
Stewart said he has no plans to expand next season beyond his three-driver lineup of himself, Harvick and Danica Patrick."Unfortunately, this is the last year we will have Ryan," Stewart said. "That's probably what made this a bittersweet day. ... I truly wish we were able to facilitate four teams at this time. We're just not able to do that."
Stewart said if SHR expands one day Newman "definitely will be on the list."
The three-time Cup champion said talks with Harvick began two years ago. He understands better than most Harvick wanting to rejuvenate his career.
"There's times when you feel things get stagnant," Stewart said. "That doesn't mean you don't respect the team you're working with. Sometimes you need something new that brings that intensity back. I think this will do that for Kevin."
Harvick's intensity is pretty high now. He has two wins and is on a roll of eight straight top-10s to rank fourth in the standings. He insisted, as he did when it first leaked that he was making a change, that the focus is on winning the title for RCR. He added that RCR has not banned him from any team meetings as some lame-duck drivers have been in the past to protect company secrets.
"I was sitting in a competition meeting for the Chase with Eric Warren on Wednesday morning," Harvick said of RCR's competition director. "So it's not like we've detached ourselves from what we're doing.
"Those guys on the team, they don't care about the politics of the sport. They just like spraying beer and being in Victory Lane. As a group, we're going to do that until we get to [the season finale at] Homestead."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.