Harvick Happy About 2014
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on January 21, 2014 | 10:03 A.M. EST
In 2014, Kevin Harvick confidently embarks on the next phase of his career as a member of Stewart-Haas Racing after ending his long tenure with Richard Childress Racing. (Photo: Getty Images)
Optimism about a successful 2014 season is running high for Kevin Harvick.
He embarks on the next phase of his career this season as a member of Stewart-Haas Racing after ending his long tenure with Richard Childress Racing. Harvick will pilot the No. 4 Chevrolet out of the star-studded SHR stable and call Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick teammates. Toss in a brand new crew chief in Rodney Childers and Harvick enters uncharted waters, to say the least.
But after a few months to become acclimated, as well as tests in Charlotte and Daytona, Harvick says things are falling into place.
"It's like that roller coaster that you ride for the first time," Harvick said after the Charlotte test last month. "You want that thrill and that excitement of the unknown. There's obviously a lot of unknowns that we'll adjust for, but I've developed a good relationship with Rodney."
Although there was some bad blood at the end of Harvick’s RCR ride, specifically his celebrated Camping World Truck Series incident with Ty Dillon at Martinsville and the subsequent war of words, the decision to join SHR came - in part - as an opportunity to try something different.
Harvick was still putting up numbers and enjoying success behind the wheel of the No. 29 Chevrolet, winning four races and making the Chase last year. But as he explained when the official announcement was made of his departure last summer, a change of scenery was something he desired.
"The decision to make a change was to rejuvenate what you're doing," Harvick said at the time. "It wasn't anything personal from Richard's standpoint or the team's standpoint of doing anything wrong. 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."
Many have questioned whether SHR can deal with the hurdle of growing from a three- to a four-car operation and remain competitive in the high-stakes Sprint Cup Series. The team struggled last year during the Gen-6 car's debut season.
In addition to the hurdle of expansion, there’s the challenge of dealing with four emotional, high-profile drivers. Patrick doesn’t see it as a problem.
"I know all of them pretty well on their own, so I feel like we're going to have a lot of fun," she said. "Everybody is going to have their opinions, but there's a lot of respect in the camp and it's going to lead to progress."
Harvick concurs and actually believes the quartet’s outspoken personalities can be beneficial to the team’s overall success.
"People who don't have opinions and don't want to voice their opinions are not constructive and don't help our race team go forward," Harvick said. "Four valuable opinions can be taken from our competition guys, whether it's an engineer or crew chief, who can help point our ship in the right direction with that information."