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Kevin Harvick signs long-term deal with Stewart-Haas Racing
RELATED: Harvick through the years Stewart-Haas Racing announced Thursday that it has signed Kevin Harvick to a long-term contract extension, scuttling any outlying speculation about his future with the team. Details of the deal were not released. Harvick, 40, is in his third year with the SHR No. 4 Chevrolet team and crew chief Rodney Childers. Harvick won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in 2014, his first year with the operation co-owned by Tony Stewart and Gene Haas. "It was a big decision to join Stewart-Haas Racing and it has turned out to be my best decision," Harvick said in a release provided by the team. "I came to Stewart-Haas Racing to win championships. We have one, but that only made us hungry for more. I'm very happy to have my future secure with a team so dedicated to winning." Thursday's news quashes speculation that Harvick might leave the team, which is moving from Chevrolet to Ford for the 2017 season. Harvick has made 550 starts in NASCAR's top division, all in Chevrolets. " Kevin's results speak for themselves, and in addition to those numbers, he brings a presence to our team that makes everyone want to work harder," Stewart said in the release. " Kevin Harvick has made Stewart-Haas Racing a better team and he will continue to be an integral part of our future." Childers signed a multi-year contract with the No. 4 team last June. Thursday's announcement promises to keep one of the series' most successful driver-crew chiefs pairings together for the indefinite future. Harvick has notched nine of his 32 career Sprint Cup wins in Stewart-Haas equipment. Since making the transition to SHR, he has finished first (2014) and second (2015) in the driver standings, and ranks as the top point-earner so far this season. Harvick will address the media Friday at 1:15 p.m. ET in the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway , site of Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM). Video of the news conference will be live-streamed on NASCAR.com.
Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 NXS car chief passes away
Ryan Shea, car chief for the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, died Wednesday night at his home in Troutman, North Carolina, according to the team. He was 34. "It is a sad day for our team as we mourn the untimely loss of Ryan," team owner Chip Ganassi said in a team release. "Ryan was a dedicated worker and a great friend to those on our team, as well as others in the garage. Our hearts go out to Ryan’s family and friends during this difficult time." Shea had previously worked at Michael Waltrip Racing before joining CGR in 2015. Kyle Larson and Justin Marks have been behind the wheel of the No. 42 this season. My thoughts on the passing of Ryan Shea: pic.twitter.com/XzKUBibck1 — Justin Marks (@JMarksDE) March 31, 2016 "Ryan was a tremendous asset to Chip Ganassi Racing and the No. 42 team and will be sorely missed," said crew chief Mike Shiplett. "My thoughts go out to his wife, children, family and friends in this time of mourning." Chip Ganassi Racing will communicate further details regarding funeral arrangements and memorials as they become available. A GoFundMe page has been established to take donations for Ryan's family -- go here to see it. Also, CGR cars will have a special decal on their Chevrolets this weekend. The NASCAR community collectively offered its condolences to the team and the Shea family on Twitter: Just heard the news of Ryan Shea passing away in his sleep. A great person and great worker in the industry.. Prayers with his wife & kids — Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) March 31, 2016 Ryan Shea will be greatly missed by this community. He is a model to follow in this sport. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. — JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) March 31, 2016 Wow shocked to hear about the passing of Ryan Shea. He was my car chief in 2006. Thoughts and prayers to Cory and the Shea family. — Kevin Conway (@TheKevinConway) March 31, 2016 Very sad day @CGRnascar as we lost one of our teammates far too soon. Keep Ryan's family in prayers #RIPRyanShea https://t.co/lwHv4UwIUl — Steve Lauletta (@slauletta) March 31, 2016 Thoughts and prayers to Ryan Shea and his family — Jeff Burton (@JeffBurton) March 31, 2016 It takes days like today to remember just how fragile life is. Shea was a great teammate and he is already deeply missed. — Ashley Parlett (@Just_AP) March 31, 2016 Thoughts and Prayers for Ryan Shea, his wife and kids! Such sad news. — Chris Osborne (@crazy_spotter) March 31, 2016
Driving While Daddy: How fatherhood affects NASCAR drivers
The 2014 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway was one of the most anticipated races in NASCAR history, the culmination of the sport's widely anticipated new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format. Already that year, the Chase had been the wildest in history, with drivers fighting after races at Charlotte and Texas, and Ryan Newman wrecking Kyle Larson on the last lap at Phoenix to bully his way into the four-driver finale. The final race pitted Kevin Harvick against Newman, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin in the first-ever, best-finisher-wins-the-Sprint-Cup format. Harvick had already had the most dominant season of his career and set personal records in poles, laps led and earnings -- all of which would be diminished, if not forgotten, if he didn't win the championship. He was the favorite, but in a high-stakes, one-race, do-or-die format, nobody knew what to expect, Harvick included. Leading up to the race, he examined problems that could crop up and strived to eliminate as many of them as he could. He thought back to the season finale the year before. His son, Keelan, was 1 1/2 at the time and had cried all night long. It's hard enough to sleep in a house with a racket like that. In the 40-foot motorhome in which Harvick sleeps at the race track, it was impossible. Harvick got, at most, two hours of sleep that night. He managed to overcome his exhaustion enough to finish 10th. But he knew that a sleep-deprived 10th wouldn't be good enough to win the 2014 championship. On the eve of the season finale in 2014, Keelan was 2 1/2 and thus less likely to spend the whole night crying, but Harvick took no chances. He rented a separate motorhome for Keelan to sleep in and parked it near his own motorhome in the infield. If Keelan screamed for hours, Harvick would be oblivious. Harvick slept better that night than he had any other night that week, woke up refreshed, then won the race and the championship.
Kevin Harvick quickest in opening Dover practice
PRACTICE 1: Results Kevin Harvick kicked off the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend atop the leaderboard, posting the fastest lap during opening practice on Friday at Dover International Speedway . The current series leader wheeled around the "Monster Mile" in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet at 165.145 mph. Hendrick Motorsports ' Dale Earnhardt Jr . was second-quickest in his No. 88 Chevrolet (164.707 mph). Next were Joe Gibbs Racing 's Kyle Busch (164.489 mph) and Carl Edwards (164.144 mph) in third and fourth, respectively, while Roush Fenway Racing 's Ricky Stenhouse Jr . rounded out the top five (163.815 mph). Defending race winner -- and 10-time Dover champ -- Jimmie Johnson got off to a slow start in 21st (161.609 mph). In the opening moments of the 80-minute session, Danica Patrick 's No. 10 lost its engine causing the Chevrolet to burst into flames. The No. 14 of Tony Stewart and the No. 1 of Jamie McMurray got caught up in the melee after sliding into the leaked oil from Patrick's entry. The incident brought out the red flag. RELATED: Patrick, Stewart, McMurray involved in wreck at Dover The No. 41 of Kurt Busch had gear issues in the first half of practice, marking the third SHR entry to run into trouble during the session. "I got lucky, honestly," Busch said on catching the issue in time. He earned the ninth-fastest speed (163.607 mph). The Sprint Cup field returns to action for Coors Light Pole Qualifying at 3:45 p.m. ET (FS1).
Several drivers on tap for Fan Fest appearances
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Former Daytona 500 champions Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are among the drivers that will appear at Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 20-21. Preseason Thunder returns in 2011 as Sprint Cup Series drivers will take to the new asphalt at Daytona in a three-day test session Jan. 20-22. Test and Fest set at Daytona Expectations and excitement Order all your Daytona tickets Tickets for Preseason Thunder Fan Fest are $20 and available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. Ticket-holders for the 2011 Daytona 500 and children 12 and under will receive free admission. Advanced reservations are available (limited to 250 people) for special autograph sessions to be held with participating 2010 Chase drivers and Daytona 500 champions. Additional driver autograph sessions will be held on both days with wristbands available the day of the event. To request access to the special autograph sessions, race fans can call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit the Daytona International Speedway ticket office beginning at 9 a.m. ET Saturday. In addition to viewing the on-track activity from the Sprint FanZone, fans can watch each day's testing at no cost from a section of the Oldfield Grandstands near Turn 4. Drivers currently scheduled to make appearances on Jan. 20, beginning at 6 p.m. ET, are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr. and Regan Smith. Scheduled to appear on Jan. 21, during the 5-7 p.m. ET session are Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, David Reutimann, Casey Mears, Jeff Burton, Joey Logano, Kevin Conway , Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman. In the 7-9 p.m. ET session, drivers scheduled to appear are McMurray, Gordon, A.J. Allmendinger , Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle, Juan Montoya, Marcos Ambrose and Matt Kenseth. Lastly, race fans will be able to camp in the infield at Daytona for free with their admission ticket during the three-day test inside Turns 3 and 4. Sites will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Gates to the infield will open at 8 a.m. ET on Jan. 20. Among the activities planned for both days include: interactive driver question-and-answer sessions on the main stage; show cars, displays, music; photo opportunity with the Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 trophy; and blood drive outside the Turn 4 tunnel. The Roar Before the Rolex 24, the tune-up session for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series teams in advance of the 49th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, is set for Jan. 7-9. Tickets are $15 daily for the Roar Before the Rolex 24, with driver fan forums, tech talks and pit stop demonstrations slated for Saturday. ticket-holders for the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona and children 12 and under will receive free admission. Tickets for both the Preseason Thunder Fan Fests and the Roar Before the Rolex 24 are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Harvick on contract: 'Never ... worried' about leaving SHR
RELATED: Harvick inks new deal with SHR CONCORD, N.C. -- Kevin Harvick is used to hearing loud noises at the track. But when the churning of the NASCAR rumor mill increased from a murmur to a low roar this week, it was a difficult commotion to tune out. Harvick said Friday that he had met face-to-face with Kasey Kahne approximately two months ago to address the rumblings about the 2014 Sprint Cup Series champ potentially replacing him in Hendrick Motorsports ' No. 5 Chevrolet. He also told Kahne that no one from the Hendrick organization had approached him regarding a ride next season. Yea Kevin and I talked back in Phoenix. Pretty cool of him https://t.co/GkfTsTlYNG — Kasey Kahne (@kaseykahne) May 20, 2016 Thursday, Stewart-Haas Racing shut down the rumor racket with a solid announcement, that Harvick would return as driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet with a new multiyear contract. During a rain delay at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, the eve of the annual NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, Harvick explained in detail how he tried to clear the air on the unsubstantiated reports. "I think as you look back, and it got so out of control that I actually went to Kasey Kahne and I said, 'look man, here's what's going on,' " Harvick said. "And I told him there's not been one person that's called me from your organization and I want you to have the trust in your team. 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. And here we are up until last week still running around." The possible fulcrum behind any notion of Harvick potentially searching for a new home was Stewart-Haas Racing 's surprise announcement in February that it would switch from Chevrolet to Ford for the 2017 season. Harvick is in his 16th year in NASCAR's top division, and all of his 550 Sprint Cup starts have been with Chevrolet's backing. But Harvick reiterated Friday that his intent all along was to stay put, keeping his successful pairing with master crew chief Rodney Childers intact. He said that Stewart-Haas had an option for a two-year extension on Harvick's contract, but that both sides agreed to restructure the deal, extending both the length of his SHR term and their partnerships with sponsors. "I never even worried about having to take phone calls or place phone calls or put our team in a position to go out, my personal team, in a position to go out and talk to other people. That was never the case," Harvick said. "It was just extending an extension that needed to be put in place because in the end it's like I've said several times, I feel like I've got the best crew chief in the garage. Our team has been performing well and doing the things that they need to do and 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." Harvick said he typically handles deals in "four- or five-year chunks," but this week's multiyear extension prompted the question if this might be his last driver contract. He turned 40 last December, but has enjoyed a career resurgence with SHR and Childers, winning his first Sprint Cup championship two seasons ago and accumulating nine of his 32 career victories since joining the No. 4 team in 2014. Harvick joked he wasn't willing to commit to Mark Martin -level longevity, referencing the Hall of Fame nominee who ran his last NASCAR race at age 54. But he also said he didn't have a specific number in mind, either. "I'm not going to sit up here and say I need to retire at this particular age," Harvick said. "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 and you feel like you're making up for a little bit of lost time at the beginning. So, it's been fun to kind of have that rejuvenated the last three years and really be excited about it and love being part of the team and organization and all the things that come with what we have right now. "So, it's just a lot of fun and it's going to have to be pretty painful for me at the end of this one 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 lands pole for Sprint All-Star Race
RELATED: Full lineup for Sprint All-Star Race Kevin Harvick will start Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race from the pole position after Coors Light Pole Qualifying was rained out at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The Stewart-Haas Racing driver will lead the field to green after the field was set by owners' points. Joining Harvick on front row will be reigning series champion Kyle Busch . Defending race-winner and Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Denny Hamlin , will line up 12th. Green flag is set for 9:26 p.m. ET, with coverage on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. MORE: See the complete lineup in photos
Weather wipes out Sprint All-Star Race qualifying
RELATED: See the lineup in photos Inclement weather wiped out Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway . This meant the lineup was set by owner points, putting Stewart-Haas Racing 's Kevin Harvick on the Coors Light Pole. RELATED: Complete lineup for Sprint All-Star race The qualifying session was scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m. ET on FS1 and was set to precede the Sprint All-Star Race at 9 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Driver introductions began at 9:05 p.m. ET as NASCAR Air Titans continued to work on drying the track. Green flag dropped at 10:12 p.m. ET. Earlier Saturday, Trevor Bayne , Greg Biffle and Kyle Larson all earned berths into the Sprint All-Star Race by each winning one of three segments in the Sprint Showdown. Chase Elliott and Danica Patrick were first and second, respectively, in the Sprint Fan Vote to complete the 20-car Sprint All-Star Race field. Denny Hamlin , who qualified for the Sprint All-Star Race with a win in the 2015 season, is the defending champion of the Sprint All-Star Race. MORE: Live leaderboard for Sprint All-Star Race
All-Star Race strategy: Lead vs. fresh tires
RELATED: Fresh paint schemes for the All-Star Race CONCORD, N.C. -- Mandatory pit stops, a random draw to reset approximately half the field and a 13-lap dash that will pit track position against fresh tires. It's NASCAR's annual Sprint All-Star Race, and few of those here at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Saturday night's event (9 p.m. ET, FS1, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio) say they know what to expect. "I think with the new format no one knows, nobody has any way to predict how this is going to go," Carl Edwards , driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota, said Friday. "I think it's going to be a really crazy event." This year's race will consist of three segments -- 50 laps, 50 laps and 13 laps. For each of the two 50-lap segments, teams are required to make one green-flag pit stop for a minimum two-tire change. There is also a mandatory two-tire stop required following each break. The race off pit road will determine the restart order for the second segment. However, only those running first through either ninth, 10th or 11th (to be determined by random draw) will be required/allowed to pit following the second segment. Pit road will be closed to the remainder of the field. The resulting "inversion" will put those in the back half of the field up front but on older tires going into the final 13-lap dash. "We have to see how the tires wear," Edwards, winner of the 2011 event, said. "That's really going to be the key. And then, man, it's just ... I was going through it this morning, if you are running sixth or seventh before the final stop, I don't know, then it becomes maybe a race for 12th or something. I just don't know how this thing is going to play out." Former series champion (2014) Kevin Harvick said it's hard for him to come to grips with racing for 12th prior to the final segment, in hopes of re-starting mid-pack or better and on fresher tires. "I'd rather be first (at the end of the second segment) and try to be on the outside of that first row of cars on new tires," the Stewart-Haas Racing driver said. "I don't know. It's just against the grain and there's a lot of thought that has to go into it because there is strategy that plays into it. "I think if you're going to win the race, I think you're going to have to kind of guess at what the right strategy is. And you're also going to have to get lucky because you're going to have to come off pit road; if that's the strategy, it seems like the common strategy. The common theme is usually not just one guy that's thinking about it." The field for Saturday night's race will consist of 20 teams, 15 that qualified by either winning a race win since the start of the 2015 season or being a former All-Star Race winner or Sprint Cup Series champion. The final five spots will be awarded to the three segment winners in the Sprint Showdown preliminary event and two determined by the Sprint Fan Vote. RELATED: Full lineup for Showdown Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford) is one of those hoping to advance out of the Showdown and into the All-Star Race. "I think with the new rules package it will be easier to pass going up through the field," Blaney said. "Even though you have 13 laps, if you have 30-lap fresher tires than the people in front of you, you can make good ground." Although driving to the front from outside the top 10 sounds "pretty tough," Blaney said, "it's been done before for sure, especially with people on different strategies, so it's doable and that's kind of where my gut is telling me to want to be at." Matt Kenseth , another former winner of the race, said he expects the strategy will consist of teams racing for 12th before the end of the second segment. "And I think that's going to be very interesting," the JGR driver said. "I might be 100 percent wrong on that; that's what it feels like today and especially after watching the last few (All-Star) races. It's still really important to be out front and I don't know that (13) laps after a ... break to cool down on your tires is enough to be a huge deficit to four new ones. "It might be, I hope it is because it will mix the field up a lot more. I don't think anyone will be sure until we see it." Eleven 2015 race winners are locked into the field, as are previous All-Star Race winners Jamie McMurray , Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne . Tony Stewart is also in the field as a Sprint Cup champion and former All-Star Race winner. MORE: See all the former Sprint Fan Vote winners
Edwards tops All-Star practice; Kes posts identical speed
RELATED: Full practice results Carl Edwards topped the charts in Saturday's extended Sprint All-Star Race practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a speed of 192.027 mph in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Brad Keselowski posted an identical speed as Edwards in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford but was officially scored second in the practice session because of owner points. Rounding out the top five were Denny Hamlin (No. 11 JGR Toyota, 191.904 mph), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, 191.795 mph) and Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford 191.700 mph). Sprint Cup Series points leader Kevin Harvick was seventh-fastest with a speed of 191.008 mph in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Practice was halted for dampness on the 1.5-mile track with 16 minutes left in the session. It eventually got back underway with a 10-minute session that included practice for Sprint All-Star qualifying, which includes a four-tire pit stop with no speed limit on pit road. Some Sprint Cup cars will be back on the track for the Sprint Showdown (FS1) as those who are not yet in the Sprint All-Star Race field attempt to gain entry by winning one of three segments (20 laps, 20 laps, 10 laps).