RICHMOND, Va. — Kevin Harvick Inc. plans to close its Trucks Series program at the end of the year, a decision that takes two competitive entries off the track but allows Harvick to focus on his only remaining NASCAR goal.
Harvick announced this week that his two Nationwide Series entries would move to Richard Childress Racing next year, and Friday he confirmed he’s shuttering KHI outright. He cited various reasons for shutting the organization, but pinned most of it on business decisions and his desire to win a Sprint Cup championship.
“The only thing that I want to do that we haven’t been able to accomplish in my career is win a Cup championship,” Harvick said at Richmond International Raceway.
Speculation has been swirling for weeks about the future of KHI, which was started by Harvick and his wife, Delana, in 2002.
Harvick shot down talk that KHI was closing because of the Harvicks were getting a divorce, saying Friday his marriage is not ending and laughing at the escalating rumors. He said he believed the gossip started internally at KHI as employees wondered about the future of the organization.
“All the reactions have just been crazy as far as the way the rumors have spun out of control,” Harvick said. “DeLana and I have just kind of sat back and laughed at a lot of them. But I feel like as a couple, and as a group at KHI, we’ve made a lot of good business decisions over the course of the years. And it’s going to allow us time to explore other business opportunities as well. “
The decision to close KHI will put about 140 employees on the job market, but Harvick was hopeful many of them would be hired at RCR when the KHI Nationwide teams move to that building. The 70, 000-square-foot KHI shop, located in Kernersville, N.C., will be sold, Harvick said.
He said the manufacturing business at KHI had shut down over the last few months.
“The racing portion of Kevin Harvick Incorporated, the only part that will still exist will operate out of RCR, but there won’t be anything racing-wise operating out of our shop,” he said.
KHI fielded its first truck in 2002 and won 39 races in 343 entries. Ron Hornaday won two titles for the team in 2007 and 2009. The first Nationwide car was fielded in 2004, and KHI won 10 races in 347 entries.
The Nationwide cars will be driven next year by Elliott Sadler, who currently drives the No. 2 Chevrolet, and the No. 33 will be filled by RCR’s Cup drivers. Harvick said he’d like to enter more events, as well, and the team is trying to find sponsorship for Austin Dillon, Childress’ grandson.
But KHI’s three trucks will likely disappear, putting Hornaday and Nelson Piquet Jr. out of work. The third KHI truck has been shared by several drivers.
Harvick said it just didn’t make sense to continue running the team anymore.
“It takes an extreme amount of pressure off of me as a driver and an owner,” Harvick said. “When you look at the personal time that we get back from DeLana and I’s standpoint … there are some normal things that you can do in life, too, that I hear, so hopefully we can experience some of those.
“It’s been a great run. We were making it all work (financially) but sometimes you just feel like you’ve got to get something out of it. We were winning races and loved to be a part of that, but in the end, it’s business.”
Harvick, who skipped NASCAR’s visit Wednesday to the White House, said it was imperative to finalize everything this week so he can focus on the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. He heads into Saturday night’s race at Richmond locked into the Chase, and his three victories this year will have him seeded near the top of the 12-driver field when the Chase begins next weekend at Chicago.
“The most important part of the season on the Cup side is coming up and I needed to sit here today and answer all these questions and set the record straight,” Harvick said. “We needed to have everything done and I need to go into the last 10 weeks with a one-track mind, and that’s to run that Cup car as fast it’ll go and be a part of that team and do the things that we needed to do a nd everybody from RCR was on the same page.”