CHICAGO—Kevin Harvick will start the Chase with five new members on his over-the-wall gang, inherited in a pit crew swap between his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet with the No. 14 of owner/driver Tony Stewart.
Though Harvick will have two new tire changers (Ira Jo Hussey and Daniel Smith), two new tire carriers (Todd Drakulich and Mike Morneau) and a new jack man (Mike Casto)—all of whom worked with Stewart during his 2011 championship season—Harvick didn’t feel the need to practice with the new crew.
“I don’t really believe that’s really necessary,” Harvick said. “I never practiced with the current one. … I think none of that really changes.
“You get in the pit box as hard as you can, you stop on the sign and pop the thing into neutral on the way in pop it into gear when you let it down and hit the gas when it drops on the left. It doesn’t change anything that I do.”
Harvick believes, though, that the change improves his chances to win his first championship.
“When you’re racing for a championship, you want to, as an organization, put your best foot forward,” Harvick said. “Obviously, there are some tough decisions that have to be made, and you obviously hope that you don’t have to make those decisions, but this is a business, and you do have to make some hard decisions sometimes.
“But that’s a good group of pit crew guys (the old crew) that just needs time to mature together and get that consistency as they move forward as a group.”
Harvick isn’t the only driver who will work with new crewmen when the Chase starts this weekend. The teams of Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola have both have made changes, though not of the magnitude of the swap between the crews of Harvick and Stewart.