Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sports

Kevin Harvick confirms SHR extension, eases Kasey Kahne's mind

CONCORD, N.C. — After announcing a multiyear extension to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing, 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick used much of his media session on Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway to set the record straight about rumors that had run amok since the announcement earlier this season that SHR would switch from Chevrolet to Ford in 2017.

Harvick said there wasn't a shred of truth to reports he had been contacted by Hendrick Motorsports to replace Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Chevrolet.

"It got so out of control that I actually went to Kasey Kahne and I said, 'Look man, here's what's going on,'" Harvick said. "And I told him there's not been one person that's called me from your organization, and I want you to have the trust in your team.

Though Harvick has been a Chevrolet driver for his entire 16-year Sprint Cup career, the manufacturer change at Stewart-Haas was not the sort of move that would have caused him to leave the organization.

Kahne confirmed on Twitter that Harvick spoke to him at Phoenix, the third race of the season and two weeks after SHR announced its move to Ford.

"Pretty cool of him," Kahne tweeted.

Though his contract is up this year, Harvick said Stewart-Haas held a two-year option on his services. But SHR went through a complete restructuring of his contract.

Kahne has struggled the last two years and is increasingly being mentioned as a driver that could be on his way out at Hendrick. Knowing Kahne is trying to turn around his results, Harvick thought it would be best to relieve him of an additional pressure.

Harvick on several occasions this season downplayed any discussion that he wanted out at SHR, where he won his first Sprint Cup title in 2014 and was runnerup last year.

Umbrella time: Rain washed out all track activity Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which will now try to cram its All-Star weekend into one day. Steady showers forced NASCAR to postpone the Sprint Showdown and the truck series race.

The Showdown, which will send five drivers not already qualified into the Sprint Cup All-Star Race, was rescheduled for this morning.

The North Carolina Education Lottery 200 trucks race was set for the afternoon. Qualifying was washed out.

The $1 million All-Star Race, which does not count in the Sprint Cup standings, is still scheduled to go off tonight.

The lack of track time Friday could be problematic for many race teams. NASCAR only announced the format for the All-Star Race on May 6, and the rules were not given to teams until earlier this week.

The Sprint Showdown is divided into three segments, and the winner of each segment will advance into the All-Star Race. An additional two drivers will get into the All-Star Race on a fan vote.

The race already has 15 drivers in the field. All drivers who won a race last year are eligible, as well as past All-Star Race winners Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne.

NASCAR this week updated the rules package to reduce downforce and side force for the All-Star Race. The idea is to reduce the speed in the corners in an effort to promote more passing. Drivers like less downforce because it puts the control of the car in their hands and allows the talent to rise.

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