Following a 10th-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway tonight, Kevin Harvick was a little reflective as he looked back on his 13-year run with Richard Childress Racing that has now come to a close.
“I’m happy with everything that we have been able to accomplish as a group,” said Harvick, whose final stat line with RCR will read as follows: 23 wins, 100 Top-5s and 209 Top-10s in 466 Sprint Cup starts.
“We had a great year knowing what the circumstances were and we have won a lot of races – a lot of the marquee races. We have won Nationwide championships.
“As owners in the Truck Series and Nationwide cars, we were customers of the engine shop. So I mean, there is a lot that has happened with everything and everybody at RCR and [I’m] really proud about my past and everybody who has been involved in it – and really excited about my future.”
Harvick entered Homestead with an outside opportunity to win the Sprint Cup championship, but after being up front early, his No. 29 Chevrolet began to develop handling problems that caused him to fall out of the Top 20 before he had to pit under green at Lap 117.
He went a lap down as a result but was able to get back in sync with the leaders thanks to pit strategy. Unfortunately for him, he did not have a car capable of winning, which is what he needed to do (along with Johnson and Matt Kenseth having problems) to have any hope of taking the title.
“We just weren’t very good,” Harvick said of his race. “Just couldn’t turn like we needed to. We had one set of tires that I don’t know what was wrong with, but just like always, these guys on our Budweiser Chevy kept after it.
“Obviously, it’s not what we wanted…Sometimes, you take off with it and sometimes you don’t. We just kept working on it and salvaged a Top-10 out of it.”
Harvick finished third in the standings in his final season for RCR, which almost ended in disaster with the brief feud between Harvick and Richard Childress’ grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon, following a Camping World Truck Series race last month at Martinsville Speedway.
After commenting harshly on the Dillons, Harvick apologized a short time later. And after some conversations after that Martinsville weekend, everyone got back to working toward the goal of finishing 2013 strong. They realized that goal, taking the win at Phoenix in the penultimate race of the year before coming to Homestead.
“I think Martinsville brought a lot of things to a head and we were able to talk about a lot of things,” Harvick said. “Really, this was the way I would want to leave, with everybody shaking hands and happy that we have been together and been successful together. ”
Now, the end has arrived for Harvick and RCR. Next year, Harvick will be driving for Stewart-Haas Racing as part of a expanded four-car lineup that will also feature Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick.
But while Harvick looks forward to the new chapter in his career, he’s also looking forward to something else.
“I can’t wait for our first hunt together as friends,” Harvick said, presumably referring to Childress. “That will be good times.”