Kevin Harvick hopes the contract extension he just signed with Stewart-Haas Racing isn’t the last one of his career.
Harvick, 40, indicated Friday that he wants to continue racing beyond what he called the “four-or-five-year chunk,” for which he said he normally signs.
“You hear too many guys talk about retiring too soon,” Harvick said at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I’m going to quit when I feel like I’m not having fun anymore or I’m not competitive. It’s way too much fun right now being competitive and having fast cars. It’s going to have to be pretty painful for me at the end of this (contract) to just say I’m done because I’ll still be in my mid-40s. I’m not going to commit to quit before it’s too soon.”
Harvick used former NASCAR star Mark Martin, who didn’t retire until he was 54, as an example.
So, we sat back and said ‘OK, let’s mutually agree just to forget that contract and let’s restructure everything.’
“You watch Mark do it into his mid-50s,” Harvick said. “So, I’m not going to sit up here and say I need to retire at this particular age.”
Harvick is in the midst of his third season with Stewart-Haas. He won the 2014 Sprint Cup championship in his first season with the organization. Nine of his 32 series victories have come at SHR.
He said SHR held a two-year extension on his current contract. But under NASCAR’s new charter system, teams can be more confident in locking in sponsorship deals for longer periods of time.
“As you stood back and looked at it, there were a lot of things that changed in the sport and within our team,” Harvick said. “We had a lot of sponsorship things that wanted to do things further than really where we were. So, we sat back and said ‘OK, let’s mutually agree just to forget that contract and let’s restructure everything.’ It was a mutually agreed to restructure and extend the contract to make it go further so that we could extend our sponsorships and extend our relationships that we had to make them longer.”
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Harvick also addressed a recent report that he might depart after this season for Hendrick Motorsports, where he would replace Kasey Kahne. Kahne has struggled during recent seasons and has a contract that will expire in 2018.
Harvick said he actually talked to Kahne to tell him that was never an option for him.
“It got so out of control, that I told (Kahne) there’s not been one person that’s called me from your organization, and I want you to have the trust in your team,” Harvick said. “I want you to believe in your team. I want you to keep working on the things that you’re working on, but here’s where it’s at. Here’s what I’m doing. Here’s what I see. Here’s how it’s going to go.”
Kahne confirmed their meeting on Twitter.
Harvick said he wasn’t troubled by what he said was a completely unfounded Internet report.
“You hear the scuttlebutt,” he said. “It affects the guys in the shop a lot more than it affects me. I never worried about having to take phone calls or place phone calls or put my personal team in a position to go out and talk to other people. That was never the case. It was just extending a contract that needed to be put in place.
“Because in the end, I feel like I’ve got the best crew chief (Rodney Childers) in the garage. Our team has been performing well and doing the things that they need to do. I like the challenges that face us in the future. That motivates me to have those things in place. And so, it’s all been good. It’s just been some crazy rumors that however they got started, they got started.”