Kevin Harvick: Tony Stewart’s retirement ‘hit me like a ton of bricks’

(Associated Press)

Kevin Harvick is still somewhat dazed that his good friend and boss, Tony Stewart, is retiring after next season.

Harvick said as much during a Thursday morning teleconference with NASCAR media.

“I told Tony last night, I said, that one kind of hit me like a ton of bricks,” Harvick said of Stewart’s announcement on Wednesday. “Just for the fact that it’s actually out there and it’s real and it’s going to happen and that’s the decision that he’s made.”

It was Stewart the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing that single-handedly pursued Harvick to leave Richard Childress Racing after 13 seasons.

But it was Stewart the close friend that ultimately convinced Harvick to join SHR.

“I came to Stewart‑Haas Racing for several reasons,” Harvick said. “But I think that one of the biggest reasons was to come race with Tony and lean on him for not only his friendship, but his experience of winning championships as a driver and a car owner.

“To be able to experience what we did last year with him was really special, just for the fact that obviously that was my first championship and just to bring something positive into to end his year was important and fun for me, personally, all in the same breath.”

Regardless of how this season turns out for him – he potentially could be eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup this Sunday in Dover – Harvick is looking forward to when Stewart segues from driver/owner to just a team co-owner.

“As we move forward, I think Tony will be obviously a big part of the race team and still there for us to lean on for advice probably more than he is now,” Harvick said. “And I think he’ll be a great figure as we move forward for Stewart‑Haas Racing and still be a great friend and somebody that I can lean on off the racetrack as well.

“I mean, he’s just one of those people that he’s worried about everybody else more than he is himself. I think this is a decision that he obviously feels comfortable with and seems to be excited about moving forward with his life in general.

“That’s really the most important thing, that he’s happy in his life and for us to see a smile on his face is the most important thing.”

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