NASCAR: Kevin Harvick Leaving SHR Is A Real Possibility

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

In 2017 SHR will move from Chevy to Ford and that includes 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick. Harvick has said he is on board with the move but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is.

Where there is smoke, there is often a fire.

That saying does not hold true 100 percent of the time but it does hold merit more often than not. In the case of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, we are still waiting to see if the smoke does indeed lead to some sort of a fire. Harvick and his SHR teammates will be leaving Team Chevy after the 2016 NASCAR season in order to join Team Ford for the 2017 NASCAR season. The move was announced a few weeks ago and it came a shock to pretty much everyone in NASCAR.

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After the announcement was made there began to be rumblings that Harvick might not be happy with the move from Chevy to Ford. Those rumblings eventually led to Harvick being asked a few different times about the move and whether or not he would be a part of it. Harvick was most recently asked about it this past weekend in Phoenix. During his media rounds he was asked if he sees himself in a Ford with SHR in 2017, Team Chevy published his answer to that question via a press release.

"I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t happen. For me I’m in the best position that I’ve been in with my team. I feel like I have the best crew chief in the garage. It would be pretty tough to turn around and walk out on everybody who has been a part of building everything that we have built so far."

Harvick’s response to the SHR question in Phoenix has been the same response that he has offered since the announcement of the move was made. While I’m not going to call Harvick a liar (in the end he might not be going anywhere) NASCAR fans need to realize that at this point in time, this should be the expected response. Moreover, one has to wonder why it is that Harvick continues to be the one being asked about his commitment to SHR and whether or not he will be in a Ford in 2017. Other SHR drivers like Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick have been asked their thoughts on the move, but they are not being pressed about leaving the team.

Again, where there is smoke, there often times is fire.

The next layer that comes into play with Harvick is his contract. Harvick is under contract with SHR through the 2016 season with an option for the 2017 season. Some of Harvick’s key sponsors are also only under contract through the end of the 2016 season; Busch Beer, Jimmy John’s and ditech are signed thru 2016.

Harvick’s contract being up (potentially, don’t overlook the 2017 option) after the 2016 season is plenty a reason for him not to be concerned about delving into 2017 and what it might bring at this point in time. Let’s say Harvick really isn’t happy about the move or has some concerns about it, what good does throwing that out there now do? The answer is that it doesn’t do anyone any good at all. Harvick coming out now and saying he doesn’t like the move or giving any indication that he might leave SHR is only going to cause a distraction for him and the team for the remainder of the 2017 season. Harvick is smart enough to know that’s not what is best for business.

Harvick is also smart enough to know that if he leaves SHR after this season, he will easily be one of the most sought after free agents in recent NASCAR history.

Some NASCAR fans will scoff at the idea of Harvick leaving SHR and to those fans I feel implored to remind you of a few things.

  1. Do you remember what Tony Stewart did after JGR made the move to Toyota? Stewart gave his word he was sticking around and then left a year later.
  2. Do you recall how Harvick even ended up with SHR? After spending his entire career with RCR, Harvick basically walked into a meeting and announced he was leaving the team. Sometimes in sports things happen quickly and unexpectedly.
  3. How many of you thought SHR would be in Ford in 2017? The answer there is none of you and Harvick is most likely one of the people who didn’t see the move coming. SHR jumping ship is a game-changer and often times big moves have consequences or result in other dominos falling.

So where in the world would Harvick go if he left SHR after this season?

Well, that’s actually a great question and one that doesn’t have a clear answer. Since there is no guarantee that Harvick is leaving SHR, it’s challenging to determine a landing spot. However, it goes without saying that if he does leave SHR he should pretty much have his pick of teams. One of the ideas being floated over the past couple of weeks involved a move to HMS to take over the No. 5 machine of the struggling Kasey Kahne. We have already seen what Harvick can do in quality Chevy equipment that is backed by HMS, so there is no reason to think that this would not be a good fit. Outside of HMS some of the other possibilities range from a return to RCR (although highly unlikely) to Harvick being a part of a smaller Chevy team that has backing from HMS.

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In the end none of this matters if Harvick stays with SHR. That being said, the foregone conclusion that Harvick isn’t going anywhere should not be as certain as some are making it out to be. Harvick holds a lot of cards in his hands right now and NASCAR fans need to understand that what seems to be true today, might not be true come November. Since SHR announced their move to Ford in 2017 there has been a lot of smoke around Harvick about his future with the team and sooner or later we will all find out if there is actually a fire there as well.