Rain
49°
Rain
Hi 50° | Lo 42°
NASCAR

Stewart-Haas announces addition of Harvick, subtraction of Newman

  • NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick smiles during a news conference before practice for the NASCAR New Hampshire Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 auto race, Friday, July 12, 2013 in Loudon, N.H. Harvick will take his Budweiser sponsorship with him when he moves to Stewart-Haas Racing next season. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

    NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick smiles during a news conference before practice for the NASCAR New Hampshire Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 auto race, Friday, July 12, 2013 in Loudon, N.H. Harvick will take his Budweiser sponsorship with him when he moves to Stewart-Haas Racing next season. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

  • NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick smiles during a news conference before practice for the NASCAR New Hampshire Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 auto race, Friday, July 12, 2013 in Loudon, N.H. Harvick will take his Budweiser sponsorship with him when he moves to Stewart-Haas Racing next season. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

    NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick smiles during a news conference before practice for the NASCAR New Hampshire Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 auto race, Friday, July 12, 2013 in Loudon, N.H. Harvick will take his Budweiser sponsorship with him when he moves to Stewart-Haas Racing next season. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

  • NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick smiles during a news conference before practice for the NASCAR New Hampshire Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 auto race, Friday, July 12, 2013 in Loudon, N.H. Harvick will take his Budweiser sponsorship with him when he moves to Stewart-Haas Racing next season. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
  • NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick smiles during a news conference before practice for the NASCAR New Hampshire Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 auto race, Friday, July 12, 2013 in Loudon, N.H. Harvick will take his Budweiser sponsorship with him when he moves to Stewart-Haas Racing next season. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

LOUDON – The open secret became official yesterday – but at the cost of a partnership.

Kevin Harvick spoke yesterday in public about leaving Richard Childress Racing after the year to join Stewart-Haas Racing. Co-owner Tony Stewart welcomed him with open arms.

And then Stewart dropped a bomb.

“Unfortunately, this will be the last year that we have Ryan (Newman) with us,” he said.

The move at Stewart-Haas is a numbers decision. It’s been known since the end of last season that Harvick was coming aboard. But with Harvick and Stewart not talking about the acquisition, it could only be speculated what the corresponding move would be.

With Danica Patrick a recent addition, it was wondered if Stewart would try to field four cars, a tactic only Hendrick Motorsports is doing. Yesterday, Stewart confirmed that won’t be the plan.

“We are not ready to expand to a fourth team,” he said. “That’s probably what has made this a bittersweet day. I’m bringing in another one of my friends to the organization, but also knowing that I’m losing a friend at the end of the year.”

In adding Harvick, Stewart-Haas brings on a driver with an elite track record in Cup racing. He’s fourth in the standings this year, has made seven of the past eight Chase for the Cups and has won 21 times in his career. But he felt his performance at Childress stalling after a disappointing eighth-place finish last year, and he was eager to pursue a jump start with close friend Stewart.

“I think for us, in 2011 and even 2012, that consistency piece that we’ve always had was gone,” said Harvick, who will retain Budweiser as a sponsor but change his car number from 29 to 4. “The situation with (Stewart) … having that kind of teammate that has won championships and a team that has won championships in the last couple of years is just exciting.”

Still, the breakup of the No. 39 team marks the end of an on-track relationship that goes back several years. When Stewart left Joe Gibbs Racing to take part ownership in what was then Haas CNC Racing in 2009, Newman left Penske Racing to come along to form a two-car team. The duo won 18 races as teammates, including six in 2011 when Stewart earned his third Sprint Cup championship.

Now it’s done, and while Newman, who got the news from Stewart on Wednesday, took the announcement in stride, he didn’t hide his disappointment with the decision.

“I do not know what my future holds. I have no idea right now,” he said. “I can’t say I’m happy with how everything unfolded. I know that there are business decisions, and business decisions sometimes trump friendships.”

Both Newman and Stewart stressed that they expect their friendship to be unaffected by the decision, and Stewart even said he’ll help his teammate find a team once the season is over.

“I’ll do everything I can to help Ryan in any way I can moving forward,” he said. “I’m behind him 100 percent. I believe in him 100 percent.”

Newman has made four career Chases, and in 16th place – only 17 points behind Stewart in 10th – he’s in the mix for a fifth. He said he’s concentrating on getting there, and that his status at Stewart-Haas won’t interfere with that focus.

“We are not out of anything right now,” he said. “There is a lot of racing left to go, a lot of points to be had. I’ve been really focused on this year more so than next year.”

Next year, however, will be different for Newman, but Stewart isn’t ruling out the possibility of reuniting when circumstances change.

“I truly wish we were able to facilitate four teams at this time. We are just not able to do that,” he said. “Down the road, I’m sure if that becomes a possibility, that he will most definitely be on the list to fill the fourth seat again.”

(Drew Bonifant can be reached at 369-3340 or at abonifant@cmonitor.com, or via Twitter @dbonifant.)

Legacy Comments0
There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.