Harvick opens final season with RCR with a victory
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Kevin Harvick and his Richard Childress Racing team sent a message to the garage following their dominating win in the first race of the 2013 season.
The team has 38 final races together and plans to get everything out of each one of them.
"That's one for the lame ducks, right?" Harvick said after taking the checkered flag in Saturday night's exhibition Sprint Unlimited. "It's just a matter of how many we can get."
Harvick is moving to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. He made the decision more than a year before he'll leave the team that hired him in 1999.
He didn't want news of his departure out too early, and when it leaked last November with two races remaining in the season, it could have disrupted his final 13 months with RCR.
Instead, Harvick went on to win at Phoenix the same weekend his news broke for his only victory of 2012. Now he's opened his "lame duck" season with his third win in the opening race of Daytona Speedweeks in the last five years. Harvick is tied with Tony Stewart and Dale Jarrett with three wins in the exhibition, but trails all-time leader Dale Earnhardt's six victories.
Harvick isn't thinking of this year as a farewell tour with RCR, and insisted crew chief Gil Martin and the No. 29 team are focused on winning races.
"It's our jobs to control the atmosphere and the things that go around. The atmosphere is great, honestly," Harvick said. "Everybody is just working toward the same goal, that's winning the races. We have to be professional, anyway, whether it's lame duck or not. You can call it whatever you want, we're going to have a helluva lot of fun racing, having a good time, doing our jobs.
"That's what we're here to do. (Martin's) job is to put cars on the race track. My job is to drive them. His job is to make sure they run as fast as they can. So as long as everybody does what they're supposed to do, we're all here to do a job and we have a responsibility to the people that are spending millions of dollars on the (business) side of that car to do it as best we can."
Martin has had his share of bumps with Harvick during his multiple stints as crew chief for the temperamental driver. But the duo is determined to have a peaceful year.
"This (job) is too hard to be miserable," Martin said. "It's too hard of work not to come out and try to win. That's not in (Harvick's) nature. That's not in our team's nature to try not to win. Anybody that thinks just because of what the situation is that anybody's going to lay down, they're sadly mistaken because we're going to try to win this championship. We're going to put forth the effort."