Harvick to keep Stewart’s pit crew

A 2014 late season pit crew swap between Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick will be permanent, Stewart said Tuesday while making a USO visit with troops and military families at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

The Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner/driver and Harvick switched crews in September in time for the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup elimination playoff that culminated with Harvick hoisting his first trophy.

Stewart, who did not qualify for last year's Chase, said Tuesday the teams will continue with the lineup as they left it last season.

"The pit crew I had that pitted Kevin's car at the end of the year, we kept that switch permanent for this year," said Stewart, a three-time champion and driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet.

"There really wasn't that much difference in terms of their times on paper, it was within a tenth of a second. We just felt like that chemistry worked really well.

"I really liked my guys at the end of the year, and I'll miss having my full-time guys with me, but I think we're all comfortable with the change and look at it as we all work under the same roof and we're all one team."

Harvick won three of the 10 Chase races, including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and had three other top-fives in the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet en route to his first Cup championship.

Stewart tied a season-best with a fourth-place finish at Martinsville, Virginia, in the seventh race of the Chase.

Joining Stewart in Tampa for the USO appearance was 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson, who said he expects to benefit from the continuity of keeping the majority of his team the same in 2015.

"We have a couple new mechanics on our car and that's it," Larson said.

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