Don’t look for Kevin Harvick to retire any time soon

FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 29: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Mobil 1/O'Reilly Auto Parts Ford, stands by his car during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on March 29, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick will not be trading in his fire suit for a business suit on a fulltime basis anytime soon, making it emphatically clear Friday at Texas Motor Speedway he is not planning to retire at the end of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

There has been increased speculation as of late that Harvick may retire when the current season concludes, vacating his spot as driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang to become an FOX Sports analyst. The Sports Business Journal reported Friday that FOX Sports analyst Darrell Waltrip may retire after this season, and Harvick is considered by many within the industry as the leading contender to replace Waltrip.

That Harvick, 43, would move to broadcasting after his racing career reaches the finish line is something he is interested in pursuing and he has taken multiple steps to acclimate himself for when that time comes. He has moonlighted in recent years as a Fox Sports analyst during the network’s broadcast of NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series races, and began hosting a weekly show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio last year.

But while Harvick is preparing himself for when he does decide to retire, he is adamant that he will not be making that fulltime switch in the immediate future. He said his contract with SHR runs through the 2021 season.

“I’m not getting out of the race car,” Harvick said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 (at 3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). “I feel really comfortable with where I’m at as far as how I feel in the race car, where my home life is as far as balance with my kids. I feel fairly confident that being a part of the TV side of things is something that I want to do in the future, but it’s not gonna happen in the next couple of years I can tell you that.

“We have a lot of things that are going really well, the race car is one of them. There’s no way that happens.”

On the performance side, there is no reason for Harvick to consider retirement. He has been a perennial title contender since joining SHR five years ago, winning the 2014 championship, finishing runner-up in 2015, and third on three other occasions. And last season, Harvick led the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in several major statistical categories — including wins, top-five finishes, top-10 finishes and laps led.

Though Harvick is thus far winless through six races in 2019, he does have five top-10 finishes. He enters Texas ranked third in the series standings, trailing leader Kyle Busch by 21 points.

“There’s so much to do with being competitive in this sport, there’s so much to do with experience,” Harvick said. “If it’s going good, why wouldn’t you want to keep going? There’s too many things that I still enjoy about it.

“The more you talk to people who retired and did things it’s always like, ‘Man, I wish I would have just stayed in the competitive situation I was in and not tried to do something different or quit too soon.”

Harvick starts 23rd Sunday.

Greg Engle