CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Harvick always regretted going public during his first round of contract negotiations with Richard Childress Racing, and the driver vowed to be more tightlipped about his business going forward.
He did a good job this time around, refusing all year to discuss his talks with team owner Childress on a contract extension. The two sides announced a multiyear deal Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway on their own terms.
“I think 2003 was a mess,” said Harvick, the current Sprint Cup Series points leader. “I kind of let myself get caught up in the middle of this world in the media and it’s best to handle your family matters within your family and not let the outside world dictate what you want to do. I felt like it went very well as we went through it this time.”
Terms on the contract were not disclosed.
Harvick will stay in the No. 29 Chevrolet, the car he took over following Dale Earnhardt’s death in the 2001 season-opening Daytona 500. He had not been scheduled to move into the Cup Series for another year, but Earnhardt’s accident expedited his promotion.
“We are very excited to have Kevin back, he has written a lot of history for RCR,” Childress said. “When we lost Dale in 2001, I don’t know of any driver that could have stepped in under the pressure and handled it the way he did. We will always be grateful. To have him come back ad re-sign again, we are excited about it.”
Harvick has 12 career Cup victories, including the 2007 Daytona 500. His victory at Talladega last month snapped a 115-race winless streak.
The Talladega victory came the same week that sponsor Shell/Pennzoil was leaving his No. 29 team. Childress said he’s talking to “three or four companies” about sponsorship, and hopes to have an announcement soon.
But there’s no question, owner and driver both said, that having Harvick locked in makes it easier to court a sponsor.
“It’s always kind of like the chicken and the egg,” Childress said. “I think that Kevin and I both have enough confidence in each other that we know we’re going to go out and put a great package together. It’s a huge plus when you can go to a company and say ‘We’ve got a driver.’ “