Kevin Harvick has signed a new multi-year deal with Richard Childress Racing, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team announced on Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The current points leader will stay on with the only organisation he has ever raced with at NASCAR's top level, although the team has yet to announce a new sponsor due to Shell and Pennzoil leaving at the end of the year to go to Penske Racing.
Harvick had one of his worst seasons ever last year, finishing 19th in the standings and missing the Chase for the first time since 2006. The team's form led to speculation about Harvick moving on at the end of his current deal, which runs out at the end of this year. However, RCR has been able to bounce back and Harvick claimed his first win since 2007 at Talladega last month, while his teammates are both currently in the top 15 in the drivers' standings.
"I think for us it's great to put everything – all the questions – to bed," said Harvick. "I've been pretty quiet about the way we've gone about everything but I've felt pretty good about the way things have gone between Richard [Childress] and myself and all that's been going on. We've been through a lot of ups and downs but I feel like as an organization and a team we're positioned as well as we've ever been to race for a championship."
Harvick praised his team for being able to turn things around this year, after such a disappointing 2009 for the squad, when it not only failed to have any drivers in the championship Chase, but also had to shrink back from four to three cars after losing one of its main sponsors.
"It's been an incredible turnaround," said Harvick. "The attitude and the morale of the people that I've been around for a long time, those are the things that you want to work out when you've got so much time and effort invested in years and years. To be able to race for a championship this year was our goal, we've been able to accomplish that and our goal is to race for championships every year. Last year we didn't do that but we feel like we've made all the right changes and hopefully we can continue going forward with the performance and things that we've done."
Richard Childress is very optimistic about the future with Harvick, who he to fill the void left by Dale Earnhardt's death in the 2001 Daytona 500. He is also confident of finding the right sponsors for Harvick's car now he has been re-signed for the long term.
"Both of us want the same thing and I think with the way we're structured now, we've got a lot of good things coming for the rest of the year and hopefully we'll just get better as the year goes. We want to run for that championship," said Childress. "I think Kevin and I both have enough confidence in each other that we know we can go out and put a great package together. We've put great packages together for companies in the past and we're going to do so moving forwards.
"It's a huge plus when you can go to a company and say we've got the driver, the driver's got us. We're ready to go."
Harvick is currently in his 10th season with RCR in the Sprint Cup Series. In his time with the team, he has won 12 races including the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400, plus a victory in the All-Star race in 2007. He has finished in the top five in the standings three times, his best season coming in 2006 when he won five times en route to fourth in the final Chase ranking.