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.
"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.