Harvick, Stewart Seek Four in Unlimited
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin on February 14, 2014 | 6:00 P.M. EST
Kevin Harvick has won three of the last five Sprint Unlimited's. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart will be battling to take the lead among active drivers in Sprint Unlimited wins Saturday night.
After spending the first 13 years of his Cup Series career with Richard Childress Racing, Harvick will kick off his first season with SHR in the annual non-points race.
"Part of the reason why I came to SHR was to race alongside Tony Stewart," Harvick said. "The guy has won in everything on wheels and he's won three championships here. That's what we talked about when we started to do this deal ... that I wanted to win a championship. That's been the one thing that's eluded my trophy case and I wanted to try and figure out why. Having Tony Stewart in the car is a huge asset."
Both Harvick and Stewart have three wins in the Unlimited, joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett. Dale Earnhardt owns the most wins in the non-points event with six.
The Sprint Unlimited and Thursday night's Budweiser Duel qualifying race will give Harvick the opportunity to get better acclimated with new his team and crew chief Rodney Childers before the Daytona 500.
"We get to try and cure any gaps with communication or little issues we may have with seats or anything that didn’t pop up in testing because you are not in the car that much and you don’t have to make pit stops, and things like that," Harvick said. "We can work out some kinks along the way, but, all in all, we worked out a lot of those."
The Unlimited will mark Stewart's first run for a trophy since being sidelined last August when he broke his right leg in a sprint car crash. Stewart got back behind the wheel for the first time in Friday's practice sessions with a new addition to the steering column suggested by Harvick.
"Harvick didn't even ask me, he just went and ordered. He runs those 'knee knockers' on the steering column," Stewart said. "He's like, 'You’re running this.' He didn't leave it as an option. I showed up, it was on my car. 'You're running this.' Shows what kind of teammates I have and what friends I have. Getting in and out of the car wasn't as big a drama as what I thought. That's what my initial concern was when he told me he was putting it in there.
"It's a pad that hangs off the steering column, basically keeps your knees from going back and forth. A pad, leg brace is on the outside. This is like a leg brace on the inside. Keeps your knees from hitting the steering column."
Stewart-Haas Racing has the most cars in the Unlimited with all four running the race, including Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick. Harvick will bring some of the sponsors he had at RCR over to SHR including Jimmy John's, which will sponsor him in the Unlimited before Budweiser takes over on the No. 4 Chevrolet for the Daytona 500.
"The good news for me, is that the '29' isn’t in existence anymore," Harvick said. "They all know what number it’s going to be right now."