Put the rumors to rest, 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick isn’t going anywhere.
Despite consistent chatter that Harvick was leaving Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the 2016 Cup season, the team announced Thursday afternoon a long-term contract extension for Harvick to remain as the driver of the No. 4 car in a new multi-year agreement. The length of the contract was not specified.
The Bakersfield, California native joined SHR after a lengthy stint at Richard Childress Racing in 2014 and his impact with the organization was not influential but immediate. In his first season driving the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, Harvick scored eight poles, won five races and led a whopping 2,137 laps en route to his first Sprint Cup championship.
Last season, gunning for back-to-back championships, Harvick delivered incredibly strong numbers and results, as he won three races and earned career-best numbers in top-fives (23), top-tens (28) and laps led (2,294). Despite finishing second at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway last November, he lost the championship to series rival Kyle Busch who won the race.
“It was a big decision to join Stewart-Haas Racing and it has turned out to be my best decision,” said Harvick, who has won nine of his 32 career Sprint Cup victories with SHR. “I came to Stewart-Haas Racing to win championships. We have one, but that only made us hungry for more. I’m very happy to have my future secure with a team so dedicated to winning.”
After 12 races this season, Harvick already has a win, five top-fives, nine top-tens and 688 laps led and currently sits atop of the regular season championship standings.
Even better, Harvick doesn’t have to worry about losing his counterpart anytime soon. Rodney Childers who joined SHR with Harvick in 2014 will remain with the organization after signing a multiyear contract extension last June. Harvick and Childers have won nine races together.
Fellow Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart said through a team press release that Harvick’s presence at SHR strives for everyone to work harder.
“Kevin’s results speak for themselves, and in addition to those numbers, he brings a presence to our team that makes everyone want to work harder,” said Stewart who will retire from competition at the end of the season. “Kevin Harvick has made Stewart-Haas Racing a better team and he will continue to be an integral part of our future.”
Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America co-owns SHR along with three-time Cup champion Stewart. SHR is one of only five active Sprint Cup teams with multiple premiere series titles.
“When you have talented people who consistently deliver results, you hold on to them,” Haas said. “Kevin Harvick is an exceptional talent and we’re very proud to have him a part of Stewart-Haas Racing for years to come.”
Earlier this season, Stewart-Haas Racing announced the organization would switch to Fords beginning with the 2017 season ending a long-term relationship with Chevrolet, which included the 2011 Cup championship. Harvick will return to the manufacturer for the first time since running in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 1999 for truck owner Jim Herrick.