The Kyle Busch sweepstakes came to an end on September 13 when he announced a multi-year contract with Richard Childress Racing. Days later, Kevin Harvick expressed some strong opinions about how Stewart-Haas Racing missed out.
“If it was my move, I would have been way more aggressive in trying to make sure [Busch] was on our team,” Harvick said during his media availability at Bristol Motor Speedway.
He continued and said that he was not the one that makes the decisions over at SHR, so it wasn’t his call. Harvick also acknowledged that the partnership between Busch and Richard Childress is fitting given their competitiveness.
“Richard loves to win,” Harvick added. “Even when Kyle finishes second, he’s mad and that’s very Richard Childress. Richard may do a better job of covering it up and talking about it. Richard Childress is a hardcore racer. He has no intentions to do anything else other than win. I think that the move he just made shows you that.”
Harvick Previously Supported a Potential Pairing Between Busch & SHR
The media availability at Bristol Motor Speedway is not the first time that Harvick has spoken about Busch and his abilities as a race car driver. He actually openly showed his support for SHR potentially pursuing the two-time Cup Series champion.
“I’d hire Kyle Busch today,” Harvick said on July 30 during the race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Because he’d have a great impact on the performance of our team, and just the urgency to do some things better.
“There’s no way that Kyle Busch doesn’t have a lot of options,” Harvick continued. “So, you know, I know there’s a lot of things that go on around Kyle. But in the end, Kyle is still one of the best that’s ever come through this garage. So there’s a lot of teams out there that can say that they’ve probably never had one of those types of drivers. You can literally rebuild a whole organization if somebody took the chance that hasn’t had one of those types of drivers. With the right circumstances, you can rebuild a whole organization just off of his pure talent.”
When Harvick made these comments, there were multiple questions about the SHR lineup. Aric Almirola was still set to retire at the end of the 2022 Cup Series season. Though he and Smithfield Foods ultimately stunned the industry by announcing their return on a multi-year deal.
Cole Custer’s future remained uncertain at the time. He and the No. 41 team had struggled throughout the season, so there were rumors circulating about whether he would return or head to an SHR-affiliated organization. However, SHR ultimately confirmed that the plan was to bring Custer back for the 2023 season.
A Pairing Between SHR & Busch Would Have Shaken Up the Truck Series
One of the potential hurdles, which Harvick acknowledged at Bristol, was Busch’s Truck Series team. Kyle Busch Motorsports was a key part of Toyota Racing, and it provided opportunities for drivers moving up the ranks. Now that team will move over to the Chevrolet camp.
If Harvick had gone to SHR, however, there would have been an interesting change in the Truck Series. The overwhelming majority of teams race for either Chevrolet or Toyota. Only two have deals with Ford Performance.
Regular-season champion Zane Smith drives the No. 38 Ford F-150 for Front Row Motorsports, and he has taken the blue oval to Victory Lane three times in 2022. Hailie Deegan and Tanner Gray both race full-time in Ford F-150s for David Gilliland Racing while Taylor Gray and Ryan Preece both share the third entry with some other guest drivers.
Having a third Ford team in the Truck Series would have shaken up the complexion, especially considering KBM’s history of success. Instead, this partnership will not happen. The organization will move over to Chevrolet and add even more bowties to the field.