NASCAR: Kevin Harvick to get teammate Tony Stewart’s pit crew (VIDEO)


Stewart-Haas Racing has announced that Chase for the Sprint Cup contender Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart will swap their respective pit crews, effective immediately.

SHR vice president of competition Greg Zipadelli said in a team release that the change was made “in the best interests of the entire organization.”

Zipadelli added: “Our primary goal is to win races and championships, and this pit crew swap provides championship experience to the No. 4 team [Harvick] and continued race-winning experience to the No. 14 team [Stewart].”

Harvick’s now-previous crew has been criticized for multiple mistakes during the 2014 regular season. In last week’s regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway, they were twice unable to keep their man up front during early yellow-flag pit stops.

Brad Keselowski took the lead in the pits on a debris caution at Lap 125, and he never gave up the point again en route to his fourth win of 2014 that also earned him the No. 1 seed in the Chase.

Harvick settled for a fifth-place finish, and afterwards, he was blunt about what it would take to bring home the Cup.

“We’ve gone 26 weeks and haven’t fixed pit road,” he said. “We have to fix pit road in order to win a championship.”

Now, Harvick will have Stewart’s tire changers, tire carriers and jackman from the latter’s 2011 title-winning team: Ira Jo Hussey (front tire changer), Todd Drakulich (front tire carrier), Daniel Smith (rear tire changer), Mike Morneau (rear tire carrier), and Mike Casto (jackman).

The former No. 4 crew – Bryan Jacobsen (front tire changer), Brett Morrell (front tire carrier), Jonathan Sherman (rear tire changer), Josh Sobecki (rear tire carrier), and Getty Cavitt Jr. (jackman) – now joins Stewart’s No. 14 side.

Considering that Harvick’s often-blazing speed this year has been blunted repeatedly by pit woes, SHR’s decision is one that should give him some more peace of mind going into Sunday’s Chase opener at Chicagoland.

Harvick can no longer afford to have races squandered, especially with wins now serving as a ticket to the next Chase round. With these championship-winning crew members now in the 4 camp, he may finally return to being “The Closer” – and at just the right time.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”