The longest-running open secret of the NASCAR paddock was finally at an end in New Hampshire on Friday, with official confirmation that Kevin Harvick will be joining Stewart-Haas Racing when he leaves Richard Childress Racing at the end of the current season.

It was announced as far back as January that Harvick would be leaving RCR at the end of his current contract, but despite wide-spread expectation that he would be joining Stewart-Haas team in 2013 the actual confirmation has been a long time coming.

"The entire organisation is excited about having him come on board," team co-owner Tony Stewart said. 'It was a lot of work to get to that. It started two years ago, I guess, (with) the thought process of hiring another driver.

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"It's not something that a decision was made overnight; there were a lot of processes in between that made it a long journey, but we are here."

Part of the delay in publicly confirming what everyone knew about Harvick's race seat next year was down to the team working to secure sponsorship funding for Harvick's 2014 Sprint Cup campaign, which will be at the wheel of the new #4 car alongside Stewart in the #14 and Danica Patrick in the #10.

Stewart announced Friday that Budweiser will be Harvick's main sponsor in what was described as a "multiyear deal." Harvick had also been sponsored by the drinks company at RCR since 2011.

"We're very proud to have such an iconic brand in Budweiser and an incredibly accomplished racer in Kevin Harvick join Stewart-Haas Racing," said Stewart. "Budweiser is the leader in its industry, and Kevin has proven himself year-after-year in our sport. It's a partnership we welcome as it will make our entire organisation stronger."

"I've developed a great relationship with so many people at Budweiser and am very happy it's an association that will continue for many years to come," Harvick added. "We've enjoyed a lot of success together and our expectations match right up with those of Stewart-Haas Racing."

Harvick said that his decision to leave RCR was purely based on the need for a change to shake things up, and not because of any bad feelings with his old team.

"I can't thank Richard Childress and everyone at RCR enough for everything they've done for my career," Harvick said. "I was just trying to make a name for myself in the Truck series, and Richard believed in me enough to make me a part of his race team.

"Without him, and without the hard work of so many people at RCR, I wouldn't be where I am today," he continued. "The decision to make a change was just from the standpoint of needing to make a change from a personal standpoint just to rejuvenate what you're doing.

"It wasn't anything personal from Richard's standpoint or the team's standpoint of doing anything wrong ... It was me trying to rejuvenate myself and be excited to do winter testing and things that go with it," he added. "Just like everybody else's job, sometimes you need a change to get going again."

"There's times when you feel things get stagnant," agreed Stewart, who said that his decision to leave Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008 to set up his own team was based on much the same feeling. "That doesn't mean you don't respect the team you're working with. Sometimes you need something new that brings that intensity back. I think this will do that for Kevin."

The big loser from the new arrangement, as expected, will be SHR's current third driver Ryan Newman. Stewart confirmed that the team was not able to extend to a four-car line-up in 2014, but added that should it ever be possible then he would be giving Newman a call.

"Unfortunately, this will be the last year that we have Ryan with us," confirmed Stewart. "That's probably what has made this a bittersweet day. I'm bringing in another one of my friends to the organisation, but also knowing that I'm losing a friend at the end of the year to the organisation.

"I truly wish we were able to facilitate four teams at this time. We're just not able to do that," he added. "Down the road, I'm sure that if that becomes a possibility that he would most definitely be on a list to fill the fourth seat."

Stewart insisted that he and Newman would remain friends.

"This was a business decision that was Gene's as well as mine, and it was a hard decision," said Stewart, referring to team co-owner Gene Haas. "There's a personal side and there's a business side. For Ryan and I, we had to put the personal bit of it aside to work through the business part.

"I'll do everything I can to help Ryan in any way I can moving forward to try to help him in his effort to find another team next year," he added.

Newman revealed that he'd learned that he was out of the team in a 20-minute phone call with Stewart on Wednesday evening.

"I can't say I'm happy with the way everything unfolded," Newman admitted. "I know there are business decisions and sometimes business decisions trump friendships - and I don't feel like that was the case," he said. "In the end, I'm happy with the three wins that I've had so far with Stewart-Haas and the performance of the cars and everything."

Newman confirmed that the news meant that his plans for 2014 were completely up in the air, saying that "that's part of racing and that's part of the situation I'm in" after this week's announcement.

"There will be a change for me in 2014 and I don't know what that change is," he said. "I do not know what my future holds. I have no idea right now. And I had no idea at this time last year. That's something that weighs on my shoulders and I have a little homework to do right now.

"There are organisations out there that are capable of winning championships and capable of racing into the Chase to give themselves an opportunity at a championship," Newman continued. "It's obvious that there are some seats that will be coming available

"At this time of the season, the silly gets even sillier. You never know what becomes available," he added. "I want to be competitive. I'm not going to go out there just go find a ride, I want to find a ride with someone who has the same goals and expectations as I do."