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.
Harvick signs long-term extension with Stewart-Haas Racing
Kevin Harvick announced Thursday that he will sign a long-term contract extension with Stewart-Haas Racing .
The Rundown: Charlotte driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings Breaking down the full field for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway : 1. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . A historic win. Truex set so many records, we can't list them all. So we'll settle for this one: He led a Sprint Cup -record 588 miles. Oh, and his 392 laps led ... taken alone, they would rank 121st all time in series history. Grade: AAA+ (and that might be a tad low) 2. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Another second-place finish for Harvick (47th of his career). One more and he ties Lee Petty for 10th all time. Grade: A 3. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson sniffed the lead after the final restart, but Superman said no. Instead, Johnson will be the answer to the trivia question: Who led the second-most laps (five) of the 2016 Coca-Cola 600 ? Sort of like: Who was the second-leading scorer the night Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game? And, no, I don't know. Grade: A 4. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin picked up 5 seconds on leader Martin Truex Jr . on the night's second pit stop ... and still lost by 6.4 seconds. That'll happen in a 600-mile race. Grade: A 5. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski and Kevin Harvick raced so close to each other for the first half of the race, you'd have thought a big ol' magnet in one of the cars was keeping them side by side. Grade: A 6. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch increased his series-leading top-10 finishes to 11 and also moved up a spot to second in the standings behind Kevin Harvick . Grade: A 7. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Disaster came knocking on a green-flag pit stop late in the first half of the race when Austin Dillon fired out of his pit stall and went way wide into Kenseth. Fortunately the impact was minimal. Grade: A 8. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott was running eighth when he was hit with a speeding penalty on the first pit stop; 373 laps later he finished eighth. Nice job. Grade: A 9. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Not that Logano would have been able to run down Martin Truex Jr ., but any chance at the win went away during green-flag pit stops around Lap 254 when a crew member was over the wall too soon. After serving the penalty, Logano was 21st, one lap down, which effectively ended his night. The team battled back, but that's a mistake that can't be made, especially with your driver running so well in such a big race. Grade: D 10. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman was penalized for speeding on pit road during the third caution but battled back to post his fourth top 10 of the season and move up a spot to 16th in the standings. Grade: B 11. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle posted his best finish of the season but couldn't end his drought of top-10 finishes. His previous top 10 was last September at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when he finished fourth. Grade: B 12. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon started 28th and needed all 400 laps to claw his way up. Grade: B 13. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson made a lot of noise early and was running fourth at the halfway point before fading. Grade: B 14. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Junior was on pit road when the final yellow flag came out, and he took the wave-around to return to the lead lap ... albeit a little deeper in the field for the final restart with 56 laps to go. He was never vying for a win, but that cost him a higher finish. Grade: B 15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse was the lucky dog on the final caution, enabling him to score his sixth finish in the teens (13th through 16th) in the past seven races. Grade: B 16. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger's 19.3 average running position was highest among drivers finishing in the top 20 and his 10 laps in the top 15 were the lowest. Grade: C 17. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard's 11th-place-finish at Dover coupled with his 17th Sunday gave him his second-best back-to-back finishes of the season, behind his 15th-8th at Auto Club and Martinsville. Grade: C 18. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards was a fixture in the top 10 and running third when he was hit with two green-flag pit-road speeding penalties. The first came when he was too fast entering the pits on Lap 298. The second came when he was too fast entering pit road to do his pass-through penalty, which required him to do a stop-and-go on the next lap. That put a fork in any chance for a decent finish: Grade: D 19. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray's average running position was 19.1, and that's exactly where he finished. Grade: C 20. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Not a bad finish considering Blaney was hit with his first pit-road speeding penalty of the season on the competition caution, had to return to pit road because of a loose wheel during the third caution and had his right rear tire go down with three laps to go. Grade: C 21. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Danica's consistent: Sunday's finish was her eighth in the 20s this season. Grade: C 22. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne's right front tire went down early putting him two laps back, and he spent the rest of the night slowly making up ground. Grade: C 23. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer was never a factor and saw his string of top-20 finishes end at three. Grade: C 24. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart qualified 21st but rolled off the grid 39th when NASCAR caught a crew member making an unauthorized change to the car on pit road before the race. A pit-road penalty for speeding during the third caution didn't help things, either. Grade: D 25. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Since getting his first top 10 of the season at Bristol, Bayne has had a top-10 finish every other race. If the pattern holds, he'll get his first top 10 at Pocono next week. Grade: C 26. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola finished outside the top 10 for the 14th consecutive race, the fourth-longest such streak of his Cup career. Grade: C 27. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Of the season's 13 races, Cassill has finished 25th, 26th, 27th or 28th six times. Grade: C 28. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith posted his second-best finish in his past eight races. Grade: C 29. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott finished in the top 30 for the fourth race in a row. Grade: C- 30. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears' finish is his worst in the 600 since a 33rd-place finish in the rain-shortened 2009 race while driving for Richard Childress Racing . Grade: D 31. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan finished seven laps back but was running at the finish; he had DNFs in both Charlotte races last year. Grade: D 32. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . Although he finished 32nd, DiBenedetto was running at the finish, unlike in two of the previous three races. Grade: D 33. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch was running 10th and flirting with a top-10 finish when he cut a tire with seven laps to go and smacked the outside wall hard. Instead, he finished with his second straight DNF. Grade: B- 34. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell posted his worst finish of the season. Grade: D 35. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt was running at the finish, nine laps back. Grade: D 36. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett finished 10 laps back. Grade: F 37. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Buescher could not build on his career-best 18th-place finish at Dover. Grade: F 38. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise finished 13 laps back but was running at the finish for the fourth time in the past five races. Grade: F 39. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Earnhardt's finish was a season low. Grade: F 40. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson completed 200 laps before clutch issues ended his night. Grade: F
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Standings
After Race 13 of the 2016 season at Charlotte Motor Speedway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Attempts 1 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 457 0 -- 1 0 13 2 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 421 -36 -36 3 1 13 3 Hendrick Motorsports 48 409 -48 -12 5 2 13 4 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 405 -52 -4 2 -2 13 5 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 404 -53 -1 4 -1 13 6 Team Penske 2 404 -53 0 6 0 13 7 Furniture Row Racing 78 381 -76 -23 9 2 13 8 Hendrick Motorsports 24 374 -83 -7 7 -1 13 9 Team Penske 22 373 -84 -1 8 -1 13 10 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 347 -110 -26 12 2 13 11 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 345 -112 -2 13 2 13 12 Richard Childress Racing 3 344 -113 -1 10 -2 13 13 Hendrick Motorsports 88 341 -116 -3 11 -2 13 14 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 318 -139 -23 14 0 13 15 Wood Brothers Racing 21 309 -148 -9 15 0 13 16 Richard Childress Racing 31 309 -148 0 17 1 13 17 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 308 -149 -1 16 -1 13 18 Roush Fenway Racing 17 299 -158 -9 19 1 13 19 Roush Fenway Racing 6 291 -166 -8 18 -1 13 20 Hendrick Motorsports 5 290 -167 -1 20 0 13 21 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 271 -186 -19 22 1 13 22 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 263 -194 -8 21 -1 13 23 Richard Childress Racing 27 257 -200 -6 23 0 13 24 Roush Fenway Racing 16 245 -212 -12 25 1 13 25 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 236 -221 -9 24 -1 13 26 HScott Motorsports 15 229 -228 -7 27 1 13 27 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 228 -229 -1 26 -1 13 28 Front Row Motorsports 38 216 -241 -12 28 0 13 29 Germain Racing 13 195 -262 -21 29 0 13 30 Richard Petty Motorsports 44 190 -267 -5 30 0 13 31 Circle Sport-Leavine Family 95 172 -285 -18 31 0 13 32 BK Racing 23 171 -286 -1 32 0 13 33 BK Racing 83 161 -296 -10 33 0 13 34 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 161 -296 0 34 0 13 35 Front Row Motorsports 34 145 -312 -16 35 0 13 36 Premium Motorsports 98 108 -349 -37 37 1 13 37 HScott Motorsports 46 108 -349 0 36 -1 13 38 GO FAS Racing 32 99 -358 -9 38 0 13 39 Premium Motorsports 55 53 -404 -46 39 0 8 40 The Motorsports Group 30 47 -410 -6 40 0 13 41 Circle Sport - Leavine Family 59 26 -431 -21 41 0 1 42 Front Row Motorsports 35 24 -433 -2 42 0 2 43 BK Racing 93 5 -452 -19 43 0 2 44 BK Racing 26 3 -454 -2 44 0 1 45 Hillman Racing 40 0 -457 -3 45 0 1
Martin Truex Jr. wins Coca-Cola 600 in dominating fashion
RELATED: Full race results " SHOP: Truex Jr. Gear CONCORD, N.C. -- The heartbreak kid survived 600 miles without another broken heart. Instead, Martin Truex Jr . broke records in Sunday night's victory in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , a race in which the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota set new standards for domination. Truex led 392 of 400 laps, most ever in NASCAR's longest Sprint Cup Series race. He spent 588 of 600 miles at the front of the field, most ever in a single race in NASCAR history. RELATED: When Truex Jr. has led 100 laps or more And when it was over, Truex had his first victory of the season, the fourth of his career and an all-but-guaranteed berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Perhaps more important, Truex erased a litany of crushing disappointments that continued into this season and ruined potential winning efforts at Texas, Kansas and Dover. "It's just kind of sinking in now that we won the 600," Truex said in Victory Lane. "Really proud of my team -- everybody that made this possible, that believed in me, gave me this opportunity. (Crew chief) Cole Pearn, Jazzy (team engineer Jeff Curtis), my guys are something special. "I want to thank all of them. This is a big day. Got the troops on the cars (for Memorial Day recognition). This is a special weekend. It's really neat to bring that name (of fallen hero Gunnery Sergeant Jeffrey E. Bohr Jr.) home to Victory Lane. Just a lot of emotion right now. Not really sure it's sunk in yet. Just an amazing day, an amazing weekend for all of us. It's a weekend you dream about." Truex finished 2.572 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick , whose car tightened up during the final 56-lap green-flag run. Jimmie Johnson ran third and led the second-most laps -- five. Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski completed the top five, but the night belonged to Truex. When darkness fell, Harvick's No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet came to life, but the tight handling condition that developed over the final 80 miles prevented him from taking the fight to Truex. "Well, I saw him for about 50 miles or 75 miles," Harvick said. "The rest of the night I never saw him. I was back there swatting flies in the middle of the pack. I didn't have a lot of time to see the 78." Johnson was pleased with the speed in his own No. 48 Chevrolet, but it was no match for Truex's Camry. "I kind of felt like he was playing with us," Johnson said. "He was so fast. I would flatfoot (Turns) 1 and 2, and have a nose on him, and he would drive right back by me into Turn 3. It was so fast. It was very impressive. I'm happy for Martin. That team and those guys worked awfully hard to get where they’re at." But for the vagaries of green-flag pit stop cycles, Truex was out front for the entire race. He led 336 of the first 344 laps, surpassing the race and speedway record of 335 set by 1967 Coke 600 winner Jim Paschal. MORE: Most dominant races in NASCAR history The average speed of the race, 160.644 mph, was a record for a Coca-Cola 600 that went the full distance, as was the duration of the race, 3 hours, 44 minutes, 8 seconds. Truex achieved a perfect driver rating of 150.0, the first of his career. "I had confidence," Truex added. "I had faith. I had confidence in my team. I've got a lot of great people behind me. Sherry (Pollex, Truex's girlfriend and an ovarian cancer survivor), she gives me a lot of inspiration. "And we keep on fighting. We never give up. We never quit. We always keep digging, and I'm proud of my guys for sticking by me. They all did a great job tonight. There are so many fans that have supported us the last few years with so many heartbreaks. I really appreciate that. I really had fun tonight."
Stewart-Haas , Joe Gibbs Racing secure fourth Charters
RELATED: Who has the 36 Charters? " Fast facts about charters DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing have each obtained an additional Charter for their respective teams, a move that will guarantee NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kurt Busch (SHR) and Carl Edwards (JGR) a starting spot in all 36 points races each week. Officials with both teams made the announcements separately via social media (Twitter) Saturday afternoon. Securing the Charters was expected. Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman said earlier this week that Charters awarded to his organization, which ceased operations at the conclusion of the 2015 season, would likely be purchased by the Stewart-Haas and Joe Gibbs organizations. No purchase price was announced. NASCAR unveiled the new system Feb. 9, announcing a nine-year arrangement that not only will assure Charter teams a starting spot in the field but there will also be financial benefits generated by the move. Based on criteria developed by NASCAR and with input from the industry, Charters were awarded to 36 teams, each of which had attempted to qualify for all races since the start of the 2013 season. It was also announced that beginning this season Sprint Cup Series fields would feature 40 cars rather than 43 as had previously been the case. As a result, there will be four remaining positions in the field each week to be filled by Open (non-Charter) teams. Those will be determined as they have been in previous years, based on qualifying speeds. SHR was awarded three Charters for its Nos. 4, 10 and 14 teams; the No. 41 team did not debut until 2014. Likewise JGR was awarded three Charters for its Nos. 11, 18 and 20 teams, and sought a fourth for the No. 19, which debuted with Edwards last season. Charters may be sold or leased (a one-time transfer), with NASCAR approval, and HScott Motorsports owner Harry Scott opted for the latter in order to obtain a Charter for his No. 46 team with driver Michael Annett . Scott announced Friday that he had reached an agreement with Premium Motorsports owner Jay Robinson for use of that team's Charter for the 2016 season. HScott, a two-team organization, was awarded one Charter, assigned to the No. 15 team of Clint Bowyer , meaning Annett would have to qualify for all races this season. Premium Motorsports will continue to field a Sprint Cup entry. Cole Whitt will attempt to qualify the team's No. 98 Toyota in the field for next week’s season-opening Daytona 500
Stewart-Haas Racing zeroes in on digital dash
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will adjust to a new innovation wrinkle this season, making use of a digital dashboard display that will replace long-used analog gauges. True to the competitive spirit in the NASCAR garage, one team might have a leg up on the rest. Stewart-Haas Racing was the first to apply the technology in actual race conditions, deploying the digital display in Kurt Busch 's No. 41 Chevrolet last September at Darlington Raceway . For the No. 41 team to blaze the trail created an interesting juxtaposition at the South Carolina track. Here was one of NASCAR's most tech-savvy teams making an early embrace of one of the sport's newest technological leaps, but hosting the coming-out party at stock-car racing's oldest superspeedway with one of the most old-school crew chiefs in Tony Gibson leading the charge. "We got on it," Gibson said last week during NASCAR's annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "… We didn't want to go to Daytona and have, 'What have we got? How does the layout want to be in this dash?' So we worked out all the bugs in ours before the end of the year. Kurt had his own layout and what he wanted to see, and he knows how to run it. We had to move some things around, work some bugs out like everybody else." Other teams followed suit, taking advantage of last season's breaking-in phase as an audition for a NASCAR-mandated rules change in 2016. A quick canvass of drivers and crew chiefs during last week's media tour revealed that some teams still have some fine-tuning to do before cars hit the track for opening Sprint Unlimited practice Feb. 12 at Daytona International Speedway . If the pattern of Stewart-Haas being ahead of the game in the offseason sounds familiar, it should. In a pivotal December 2013 test session with the new driver/crew chief pairing of Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers, SHR's No. 4 team was the class of the field in quickly adapting to the next season's rules package -- a transition that eventually netted the 2014 Sprint Cup championship. "Anything new, you have to put time into it and understand it, and I'm thankful to have that opportunity with Stewart-Haas to have the engineering department, to have a dedicated guy who's working with McLaren on the software and to be able to find new things," Busch said. "Even with us running it last year at Darlington and then the next time I tested it in January, so many new chapters, categories and things were opened up for us to look at. "I'm just glad that I feel like we've done our homework and put our time invested into it to where we won't have problems with it and we're going to succeed with it and not have it be an issue or a distraction on race weekends." The next step for teams beyond making sure the system works: Getting the most out of the information. The existing settings -- tachometer; voltage; water and oil temperatures; oil, water and fuel pressures -- will all be accessible, but delivered on one of 16 different preset displays. Teams will be able to drill down and customize each preset based on driver preferences. The first full-field implementation of the digital display is just weeks away, but NASCAR competition officials say the new system has room to grow. Tire-pressure sensors have been tested ahead of a 2017 rollout, with the potential to help teams make educated decisions about air pressure and other adjustments during pit stops. Tire sensors aren't yet approved for competition, but Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck says he's hopeful for other advancements in distributing the dashboard data beyond drivers and teams. "The exciting part about it is the possibilities of the future," Buck said. "... Integrating it with the fans, integrating it with (the media), the data that we have on race cars available to us and be able to tailor that and get it out to the fans. That's what makes it exciting to me."
Tony Stewart injury update from Stewart-Haas Racing
RELATED: Stewart hospitalized with injury " Stewart to miss start of Cup season KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Feb. 4, 2016) -- Tony Stewart , driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, sustained a burst fracture of the L1 vertebra in an all-terrain vehicle accident Sunday while vacationing on the West Coast. Stewart was transported to a local hospital following the non- racing accident and promptly evaluated. He was awake and alert throughout the process and able to move all of his extremities. Stewart flew to North Carolina Tuesday evening and was admitted to a Charlotte-area hospital for further evaluation. On Wednesday, he underwent surgery. The subsequent recovery period means Stewart will miss the beginning of the Sprint Cup season. A timetable for Stewart's return has not been determined, but he is expected to make a full recovery and return to the No. 14 Chevrolet in 2016. Plans for an interim driver have not been finalized. MORE: Stewart: Full coverage of ATV accident
Stewart-Haas reveals Harvick's Darlington paint scheme
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes SHOP: Harvick gear Stewart-Haas Racing unveiled Kevin Harvick 's retro paint scheme on Thursday for Darlington Raceway 's annual Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sunday, Sept. 4, 6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). . @KevinHarvick will pilot this No. 4 @BuschBeer Chevrolet for the #Southern500 at @TooToughToTame . #NASCARThrowback pic.twitter.com/SjwNSAHPZh — Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) April 14, 2016 Aligning with the Southern 500's 1975-1984 era throwback theme, the No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet SS pays homage to NASCAR champion and Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough's 1979 Daytona 500 car. This particular "Great American Race" was also significant because it marked the first 500-mile event NASCAR broadcast entirely on television. Yarborough, a three-time champion in NASCAR's premier series, drove the No. 11 Busch Beer ride from 1979 through 1980, earning 10 wins, 38 top-fives and 15 poles during the two-season stretch. He also won five Southern 500 races during his decorated career -- 1968, 1973, 1974, 1978 and 1982. Harvick's scheme is one of several throwback schemes to be unveiled this week. Stewart-Haas Racing also recently revealed Danica Patrick 's retro No. 10 scheme via the team's Twitter account Wednesday. RELATED: SHR unveils Danica's Darlington look
Stewart-Haas Racing to switch to Ford in 2017
RELATED: Key moments in SHR history Stewart-Haas Racing announced Wednesday that its four-car operation will switch from Chevrolet to Ford-powered cars in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series beginning in 2017 -- the news catching most of the national media and racing insiders off-guard. Co-team owner and driver Tony Stewart considers it a coup that they were even able to keep the past six months of negotiations with Ford under wraps before Wednesday's big announcement -- only two weeks into the 2016 season. "I don't think the timing was a big issue, we just wanted to make sure we were in control of it," Stewart said. "It's very hard to keep secrets in this sport. "In figuring things were going to get out, we wanted to be proactive in announcing this. "We're going to get it out there, and then we're going to get back to business.” Both Stewart and co-owner Gene Haas opened their remarks on a national conference call Wednesday morning by thanking Chevrolet and committing to the 2016 season driving the GM brand before sharing their optimism about the Ford future. Stewart said he spoke with Hendrick Motorsports founder Rick Hendrick last month about the possibility of SHR switching engine makes -- SHR has a technical alliance with Hendrick -- and informed him of the team's final decision before Wednesday's announcement. Both Stewart and Haas were thankful to Chevy, Haas calling it a "long, awesome run” with the company. Stewart stressing, "we weren't disappointed with Chevy" and said he felt this announcement and impending move would not seriously harm the current Chevy alliance with Hendrick Motorsports . "I don't think Rick looks at this as a betrayal," Haas said of Hendrick. "I think he (Hendrick) respects the decision we have made. It's a bottom line, business decision that enhances Stewart-Haas Racing in the future and an opportunity we couldn't pass up." As the SHR announcement was ongoing Wednesday morning, Chevrolet released a statement from its Vice President Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Jim Campbell saying, "We are disappointed with Stewart-Haas Racing 's decision, but our focus for 2016 has not changed." Stewart was in complete agreement about the focus. He reiterated the group's plans to win a 2016 Cup championship with Chevy this year and spoke about the move as a difficult, much-contemplated process. "None of this was done on a coin toss," Stewart said. "We've put six months of thought into it." SHR fields cars for 2014 Cup champion Kevin Harvick , 2004 series champion Kurt Busch , Danica Patrick and next year Clint Bowyer will take over for the retiring Stewart behind the wheel of the No. 14. NASCAR released the following statement after the news broke: " Stewart-Haas Racing has been a top-tier team in our sport for many years, and we wish them well in their future endeavor with Ford Performance. Our sport is rooted in healthy competition, and NASCAR is fortunate to have three strong auto manufacturer partners all committed to the common goals of winning and growing the sport. We know that SHR and Chevrolet will work together as hard as ever this season to win races and pursue their third Sprint Cup Championship together." Ford executives were clearly optimistic and eager about increasing their Cup tally, which also currently includes spotlight partners such as Penske Racing and Roush-Fenway Racing , Wood Brothers Racing , Richard Petty Motorsports and Front Row Motorsports . "We believe the addition of Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017 will give our program a major boost in terms of being in contention for both drivers' and manufacturers' championships every year," said Ford's global Director of Performance Dave Pericak, who also noted, "This is just another addition; we're not eliminating or reducing support to other teams." Stewart, who is currently sidelined in his final year of Cup competition while recovering from an L1 vertebrae fracture, admitted he had been monitoring social media such as Twitter after the initial announcement was made Wednesday morning. He was curious to reaction. "I understand some people are upset and I've also read comments from people who are ecstatic about it," he said, adding, "You can't overlook great opportunities.” He also said after a nearly 20-year personal tenure under the Chevy banner, "It was a big decision; it's what's best for our company going forward." In the hours after the decision was made, Ford drivers also reached out via Twitter to congratulate the SHR contingent. "Welcome to the @FordPerformance family @StewartHaasRcng. Excited to have another team join the blue ovals," tweeted Penske Racing driver Joey Logano . MORE: Smith analyzes SHR move