Richard Childress Racing will be without Kevin Harvick in 2014, the team owner himself revealed on Monday evening during a pre-season media event at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.
"We had a meeting and he told me his plans and we discussed what we were going to do in '13," Richard Childress revealed. "He'll do well over there at Stewart-Haas, and RCR will keep going and moving forward ... I think him and Tony will have a good relationship," he added.
It's the second high-profile loss to the RCR team in the last two seasons, with Childress also seeing Clint Bowyer depart the team at the end of the 2011 season to head to Michael Waltrip Racing, where he ended up as the runner-up in last year's Sprint Cup championship to Brad Keselowski.
Although he has a bit of a reputation for not taking driver decisions to leave his team in the best of humour, Childress said that in Harvick's case he was determined that the two of them should stay friends in the future - especially since they still have a 36-race campaign to get through before Harvick leaves.
“Families get upset with one another, but you always end up sitting down and working it out ... I think we'll get through it okay," said Childress, who pointed out that he still had good relations with Bowyer. "We're going to do our best to win that championship. Kevin has played a big role at RCR [and we] wish him well in is next venture. but we're going to keep RCR going."
"I've got a lot of friends here and I want to leave it that way," said Harvick, who has spent his entire Sprint Cup career with RCR since entering the series in 2001. “You have a lot of respect for Richard and the organisation, and you don't want to leave a black mark as you leave.
“You want to do it with as much class, and everything that goes with being classy about it, as you can," he said about their upcoming final season together. "We're going to race. We're all racers, whether we're driving for whoever or driving here or there. In a go-kart race or whatever it may be, you want to go out and you want to win, and nobody's going to do anything less than work as hard as they can to achieve those goals.”
As to the secret of how he and Childress have always got along so well together? "We don't talk about feelings, we talk about performance and the way things need to go on the track and try to figure out what we need to do to win races," he explained, adding: "We talk about race cars."
Notably, Harvick wouldn't confirm Childress' comments about where the driver would be in 2014, even though it's been an open secret ever since ESPN
broke the story about Harvick heading to Stewart-Haas Racing next year as far back as the November race weekend in Phoenix last autumn. Ironically, it was at that race that Harvick went on to finally break a long winless streak.