Kevin Harvick will retain Tony Stewart's pit crew permanently

It appears a late-season pit crew swap made between the Stewart-Haas Racing teams of eventual 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick and teammate and co-owner Tony Stewart has been made permanent for the start of the 2015 season.

The move was first made early last September in time for the 10-race Chase playoff after Harvick's team had several documented struggles during the course of the season. At the time, however, the change was announced as a temporary one.

Stewart first mentioned the move being made permanent on Tuesday at a USO visit with troops and military families at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

"There really wasn't that much difference in terms of their times on paper, it was within a tenth of a second. We just felt like that chemistry worked really well," Stewart told

Harvick won three of the Chase playoff races, including the penultimate race at Phoenix, which gave him the opportunity to compete for the championship at the series finale at Homestead, Fla, which he also won.