BRISTOL, Tenn. — Kevin Harvick says that Stewart-Haas Racing should have been more assertive in pursuing Kyle Busch, who announced this week that he’ll drive for Richard Childress Racing next season.
“If it was my move, I would have been way more aggressive in trying to make sure (Busch) was on our team,” Harvick told reporters Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Asked why that didn’t happen, Harvick said: “I’m not in charge.”
Harvick publicly expressed his favor for Busch in July at Indianapolis, saying he would be “100% open” to having Busch as a teammate.
“I know there’s a lot of things that go on around Kyle, but in the end, Kyle is still one of the best that’s ever come through this garage,” Harvick said in July. “There’s a lot of teams that can say that they’ve never had one of those types of drivers.
“He literally could rebuild an organization if somebody took a chance that hasn’t had one of those types of drivers.”
Richard Childress Racing will get that chance with Busch. RCR is experiencing a revival this year. The team’s three victories are its most in a season since Harvick won four times there in 2013.
Both of RCR’s drivers, Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon, are in the playoffs. Reddick enters Saturday night’s elimination race two points above the cutline and Dillon is three points below the cutline.
Harvick left RCR for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, winning the championship that season. SHR has two drivers in the playoffs this season: Harvick and Chase Briscoe. Both are below the cutline. Briscoe is nine points below the cutline, and Harvick is essentially in a must-win situation, 35 points below the cutline.
Harvick’s contract goes through 2023. Stewart-Haas Racing had an opening this season. Aric Almirola announced in January that he would retire from full-time Cup competition after this season.
Almirola was brought back and signed to a multi-year deal in August to help keep sponsor Smithfield with the organization.
Harvick admitted Friday that it wouldn’t have been as simple as just signing Busch this year because Busch owns a Camping World Truck Series team.
With Busch moving to Richard Childress Racing, a Chevrolet team, Kyle Busch Motorsports will field Chevrolets next year but additional details have not been announced.
“There’s just way more that goes into it,” Harvick said of signing Busch. “I’m just the guy giving opinions. I’m not the guy spending the money. There’s just way more dynamics that go into it. Kyle’s situation is complicated, more than most, with his trucks and everything that goes into that with the manufacturer and things like that.”
Harvick admits Busch and car owner Richard Childress make a good pairing.
“Richard loves to win,” Harvick said. “Even when Kyle finishes second, he’s mad and that’s very Richard Childress. Richard may do a better job of covering it up and talking about it.
“Richard Childress is a hardcore racer. He has no intentions to do anything else other than win. I think that the move he just made shows you that.”