Kevin Harvick starts athlete management firm, first client is UFC fighter

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Given his no-fear attitude on the racetrack and never backing down from a confrontation with another driver (remember Darlington in 2011, Kyle Busch?), it’s not surprising that NASCAR Sprint Cup star Kevin Harvick is also a mixed martial arts fan.

But what is surprising is that as Harvick prepares to move to Stewart-Haas Racing next season following a 13-year tenure at Richard Childress Racing, he’s once again diversifying into another area.

Harvick and wife DeLana owned the aptly-named Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI), from 2002 through 2011, an operation that fielded cars in the Nationwide Series and Trucks in the Camping World series, including two Trucks series championships and a combined 53 wins in both the Trucks and Nationwide circuits.

And while the couple closed their racing operation at the end of the 2011 season, the KHI name remained, ready for the couple’s next business venture.

Thursday, that next venture was announced, as KHI is getting into the athlete management and representation field, according to MMAWeekly.com. KHI’s first client is UFC lightweight Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.

“It’s an honor and privilege to have this new relationship with Kevin and KHI,” Cerrone, currently ranked sixth in his division with a 20-5 record, told the web site. “I have learned a lot from Kevin and his management team over the last year and look forward to a long-lasting relationship both in and out of the Octagon.”

The new venture may also prompt Harvick to get into fighting shape himself, just in case he needs to do some scrapping on the racetrack, in the pits or the garage area: he recently worked out with UFC welterweight contender Johnny Hendricks, the web site reported.

“One of KHI’s strongest qualities always has been our ability to sell and maintain sponsorship in NASCAR despite the economic challenges,” Harvick said in a statement.  ”With that solid foundation and the template we’ve created over the last 10 years, I think we are ready to take the next step to represent other athletes in other arenas.  Donald is our first client in the UFC, and I’m excited about all the possibilities that lie ahead.”

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.