Harvick can be Toyota’s next target

UPDATE #3 While rumored to be the top choice of Toyota when that auto maker ventures into NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competition in 2007, driver #29-Kevin Harvick says none of the future moves he makes will entail the role of owner/driver. In fact, Harvick's comments Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway sounded more like the five-year Cup veteran would rather remain with current car owner Richard Childress than either exit to start his own Cup program – he already fields Busch and Truck entries through Kevin Harvick Inc. – or leave to drive for another owner. Harvick is in the final year of his contract with Richard Childress Racing, although there are contract options available to Childress to re-sign the driver. And while the two have mutually agreed to discuss their future later this year, Harvick said Friday that there was no specific date set to have any issues resolved. The talk of Toyota, he said, is speculation. "… As far as [Toyota] courting me, I don't know what would fall into that category. Everything up to this point is speculation of what's happening. Right now, there's nothing done or nothing happening anywhere from any manufacturer or anything." NASCAR Daily Scene

03/20/06 Kevin Harvick has set too high a price tag in his contract renegotiations with General Motors, and it now seems unlikely that car owner Richard Childress will renew the deal, according to sources. The two have set an early April deadline. Harvick drives Nextel Cup [and Busch] cars for Childress, and also fields a Truck for Ron Hornaday and two Busch cars, for Burney Lamar, Ron Fellows, Tony Stewart and himself, all under Kevin Harvick Inc. Toyota would likely be willing to support Harvick with a full Nextel Cup-Busch-Truck package, but it is unclear if GM is willing to match that. And it's unclear if Harvick would back down on his price in order to stay with Chevrolet. That is all raising speculation about who Childress might hire to replace Harvick if Harvick does move on. Winston Salem Journal

03/07/06 Whether Kevin Harvick returns to Richard Childress Racing next season will not be totally up to the 2001 Nextel Cup rookie of the year. A source close to the organization said there is concern over whether Harvick is focused enough on his Cup career to be given a long-term contract. Harvick already owns teams in the Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series, and is believed to be a target of Toyota as a driver and perhaps owner when the Japanese-based manufacturer enters NASCAR's top series in 2007. Harvick and team owner Richard Childress have set an April deadline for determining whether they will remain together past this season. Childress has maintained he would like Harvick back. He also admitted the decision is not one-sided. "It's got to be right for both of us,'' said Childress, who attended Sunday's race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. "It can't be right for just one. It has to be a deal that both of us believe we can win races and win championships. NASCAR.com

01/26/06 Unless car owner Richard Childress can sign him to a long-term extension, Kevin Harvick will be one of the top free agents for the 2007 season – just in time for Toyota to make its NASCAR debut.

"They are going to make a run at a lot of drivers, and everyone is aware that Kevin's contract is up," Childress said Thursday. "I am sure they are going to make a run at him." Harvick has been reluctant to negotiate with Childress, unsure of where the program is headed.

Once considered one of the elite teams in NASCAR, RCR has struggled of late and Harvick has failed to qualify for the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship the past two seasons. He's coming off a one-win season in which his crew chief was suspended twice for allegedly cheating on car setups.

Since his breakout season in 2001, when he won in just his third career Cup start, Harvick has never fully taken off. He's got just four career wins – although one is the prestigious Brickyard 400 – and has never finished higher than fifth in the final season standings.

So until he's sure that Childress can give him a team capable of winning a championship, Harvick doesn't want to commit to anything.

"We've kind of agreed to sit down in April and just kind of evaluate where things are," Harvick said. "I'm not going to rush into things and do things I don't want to do. I think right now we are in the same frame of mind about our goals, and our goals are to go out and get the season going out good and make the Chase.

"All the rest of it, the paper stuff, is something that's not high on the list right now." More at AP Story

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