With the story breaking last week by ESPN that Kevin Harvick was leaving RCR after the 2013 season for Stewart-Haas Racing, stories started circulating why.
Harvick has raced his entire NASCAR career with RCR with a great deal of success.
He has a total of 14 wins in 120 races with them in the Camping World Truck Series, 39 wins in 290 races in the Nationwide Series, and 18 wins in 427 races in the Cup series. In addition, he was the 2001 and 2006 Nationwide Series Champion and also the 2003 Brickyard 400 and 2007 Daytona 500 champion with RCR.
After being associated with RCR for 16 years and having had tons of success with them, why would he want to leave?
Harvick was a fan favorite early on with taking over for the late Dale Earnhardt after his untimely death in 2001. The team changed the car number to 29 to give him his own identity and allow him to get out of Earnhardt’s shadow after the tragic accident, since they didn’t want to run the No. 3 after that tragic day in February. Harvick won three races after Earnhardt’s death in the 29 at Atlanta in a photo finish over Jeff Gordon.
Again, with all that history, why would he want to leave?
The answer is simple. The Dillon brothers.
Harvick sees it coming. Austin Dillon is coming up and ready to make his move to Cup. He’s running a limited season next year including the Daytona 500. 2013 will be his second full-time season in the Nationwide Series as he will need to make the move to Cup in ’14. RCR needs to add a ride or get rid of someone to make room for his grandson in Cup.
Harvick sees that and has the desire to do something new before his career is over.
Dillon is destined to take over the No. 3 in Cup. There have been rumors about Childress wanting to bring that number back. The Earnhardt camp said they’re fine with that and would welcome Dillon driving the famed number. They want a young driver who’s raced that number his whole life to run it in the big league. Dillon has done that.
It would make sense for him to take over the No. 29, which is technically the 3 team, and change it back to the original number.
Also, Harvick knows Austin’s younger brother Ty is coming up and surely going to be ready for Cup racing in ’14 or the year following. He’s arguably better than Austin and deserving of a ride. That would mean RCR will need two cars at least for both Dillon brothers and their grandpa is certainly not going to allow them to race anywhere else.
What all that means is that the attention at RCR is going to be on those two and they’re going to get all the top notch equipment. Harvick isn’t going to want to play third fiddle to two youngsters while still in the prime of his long career.
On the SHR side, Harvick and Stewart have a nice history among themselves and are really good friends. Harvick can bring his sponsor to help his buddy out to his team and make a move that very well could make him even more of a title contender than he is now with RCR.