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.”

Valiant efforts from Hunter-Reay, Dixon come up just short at Road America

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Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon drove about as hard as they possibly could during Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, and they both drove nearly perfect races.

Hunter-Reay took advantage of Will Power’s engine issues on the start to immediately jump into second, and stalked pole sitter and leader Josef Newgarden from there, often staying within only a couple car lengths of his gearbox.

Dixon, meanwhile, had a tougher chore after qualifying a disappointing 12th. Further, he was starting in the same lane as Will Power, and when Power had engine issues when the green flag waved, Dixon was one of several drivers who was swamped in the aftermath.

Scott Dixon had to come from deep in the field on Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

However, as is his style, he quietly worked his way forward, running sixth after the opening round of pit stops, and then working his way up to third after the second round of stops.

It all meant that, after Lap 30, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, and Dixon were nose-to-tail at the front, with the latter two in position to challenge for the win.

Yet, neither was able to do so. Hunter-Reay never got close enough to try to pass Newgarden, while Dixon couldn’t do so on either Hunter-Reay or Newgarden. And, neither driver went longer in their final stint – Dixon was actually the first of that group to pit, doing so on Lap 43, with Hunter-Reay and Newgarden pitting together one lap later.

And Newgarden pulled away in the final stint, winning by over three seconds, leaving Hunter-Reay and Dixon to finish second and third.

It was a somewhat bitter pill to swallow, with Hunter-Reay noting that he felt like he had enough to challenge for a win.

“I felt like we had the pace for (Newgarden), especially in the first two stints,” he asserted. “I really felt like it was going to be a really good race between us. Whether it be first, second, third, fourth stint – I didn’t know when it was going to come.”

He added that, if he could do it over again, he would have been more aggressive and tried to pass Newgarden in the opening stint.

“In hindsight, I should have pressured him a bit more in the first stint,” Hunter-Reay lamented. “We were focused on a fuel number at the time. Unfortunately that Penske fuel number comes into play, can’t really go hard.”

Dixon, meanwhile, expressed more disappointment in the result, asserting that qualifying better would have put him in a possibly race-winning position.

“I think had we started a little further up, we could have had a good shot at trying to fight for the win today,” he expressed.

The disappointment for Dixon also stems from the knowledge that his No. 9 PNC Bank Honda had the pace to win, especially longer into a run.

“The car was pretty good on the long stint,” he asserted. “I think for us the saving grace was probably the black tire stint two. We closed a hefty gap there. We were able to save fuel early in the first stint, which enabled us to go a lap longer than everybody, had the overcut for the rest of the race.

“I think speed-wise we were right there. Had a bit of a crack at Hunter-Reay on his out lap on the last stint there, but cooked it too much going into (Turn 14), got a bit loose, lost momentum. That would have been really the only chance of passing him.”

Dixon remains in the championship lead, however, by 45 points, while Hunter-Reay moved up to second, tied with Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi.

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