AVONDALE, Ariz. – Why would a lifelong Chevrolet driver agree to a manufacturer switch to Ford?
The bottom line: the performance of the organization that’s making the change.
Stewart-Haas Racing took the entire NASCAR Sprint Cup Series community by surprise with its announcement of the team’s impending move to Ford in 2017. Co-owner Tony Stewart has been a Chevy loyalist throughout his racing career, and insiders marveled at his willingness to make a deal with another car maker.
Likewise, Kevin Harvick has driven Chevrolets since he broke into NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing with Richard Childress Racing in 2001. Harvick’s long association with Chevy has given rise to speculation that the driver of the No. 4 car might look to change teams because of the switch to Ford.
Before Friday morning’s opening Cup practice at Phoenix International Raceway, however, Harvick was dismissive of that idea. Asked pointedly if he’ll be in a Stewart-Haas Racing Ford next year, Harvick gave every indication that will be the case.
“I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t happen,” Harvick said. “For me, I’m in the best position that I’ve been in with my team. I feel like I have the best crew chief in the garage (Rodney Childers).
“It would be pretty tough to turn around and walk out on everybody who has been a part of building everything that we have built so far.”
That’s an understatement. Since joining SHR in 2014, Harvick has won eight races, nine poles and a championship.
And, by the way, Harvick has won five of the last seven races at Phoenix. Since joining Stewart-Haas, he has finished first three times and second once at PIR.