CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Kevin Harvick said Stewart-Haas Racing is zeroed in on improving Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet, but the defending series champion isn’t sure his blazing fast car holds the answer.
Harvick’s No. 4 Chevy won Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and has finished first or second in six consecutive Sprint Cup races dating to last season, which brought his first title in NASCAR’s premier series.
So why not drop Harvick’s setup into the car driven by Stewart, who has opened 2015 with finishes of 42nd (Daytona 500), 30th (Atlanta Motor Speedway) and 33rd (Las Vegas)?
Because their disparate approaches to driving ensure it wouldn’t work.
“So much to do with it is style, and a lot of that is just communication between you and your engineers and everybody being on the same page,” Harvick said during a Tuesday news conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to promote Martinsville Speedway’s March 27-29 race weekend. “If we just put my stuff in Tony’s car, it’d be hard to just say that’s going to fix all the problems. But right now, everyone is in an analyzing phase of really trying to understand exactly what direction we need to go to help, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
SHR mostly has struggled across the board outside of Harvick’s car. Danica Patrick hasn’t started or finished in the top 15. Regan Smith has done a respectably consistent job in place of suspended Kurt Busch, finishing 16th, 17th and 16th as a substitute.
Harvick said there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution and credits his success mostly to his relationship with crew chief Rodney Childers. Since teaming before last season, the duo has notched six victories, 17 top fives and 23 top 10s in 39 starts.
“As you look at packages and the way (the SHR teammates) drive, they are drastically different in throttle traces and steering traces and feels,” Harvick said. “Whether it’s myself or Danica or Tony, everybody wants something different in their cars. So the biggest thing we’re fortunate to have going for us is Rodney and I just had so much time to really sit and work on everything and just talk about every little detail before we even went to the racetrack.
“I get in my cars and never have to touch anything or move anything. It’s just always perfect. I’m in a fortunate spot, but we’re all in on trying to figure out exactly what Tony needs and really help him get back to where he needs to be”
Harvick, who will be testing Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway before heading west again to race at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend, said SHR hadn’t been able to hold its weekly competition meeting because of harried schedules.
“Honestly, I haven’t spoken to anyone about what exactly (Stewart was) fighting on the weekend, so I don’t have a 100% answer on exactly what was wrong,” Harvick said. “I haven’t talked to Tony or (competition director Greg) Zipadelli because everybody’s all over the country right now, so it’s kind of hard to communicate.”