If team owner Richard Childress has his way, Kevin Harvick won't be walking.

Rather, he'll be driving the #29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet for RCR at least through the 2010 season, according to a statement Wednesday from Richard Childress Racing.

Childress issued the statement in response to reports that Harvick had asked for his release from RCR to pursue opportunities with other teams.

"Richard Childress Racing has a multiyear contract with Shell-Pennzoil that includes the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season," Childress said. "Shell-Pennzoil remains a great partner for RCR and Kevin Harvick as well as our sport overall.

"RCR also has a multiyear contract with Kevin Harvick that includes the 2010 season. That said, Shell will be the sponsor and Kevin will be the driver of RCR's #29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet Impala SS in 2010."

Harvick's relationship with Childress has deteriorated this season, and so has the driver's performance on the track. For the past three years, Harvick has qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, finishing fourth in the final standings in 2006 and 2008 and tenth in 2007. Currently 25th in points with no realistic shot of making the Chase, Harvick hasn't won a Cup points race since the 2007 Daytona 500.

Harvick also has his own headaches on the ownership side. His family team, Kevin Harvick Inc., was particularly hard-hit by General Motors' decision to withdraw support from NASCAR's Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. Harvick fields teams in both touring divisions and won the truck series championship in 2007 with driver Ron Hornaday Jr.

In an attempt to jump-start the Cup teams of Harvick and Casey Mears, Childress flip-flopped their crew chiefs and pit crews before the May 2 race at Richmond. To date, the switch hasn't had the desired effect. Mears is 22nd in the standings.

Since then, the relationship between Harvick and Childress has been at times acrimonious. A story on SI.com reported RCR's contract with Shell-Pennzoil expires at the end of the 2009 season and Harvick was attempting to strike a deal with Stewart-Haas Racing and move the sponsorship with him.

According to RCR and Shell, the contract with the sponsor runs through 2010. According to a source close to Stewart-Haas, Harvick has not made a formal approach to that organisation, though he and owner/driver Tony Stewart are friends.

Though RCR employees reportedly overheard a heated conversation between Harvick and Childress in which the taking of sponsorships was discussed, the primary sponsorship contract is between Shell and RCR, not between Shell and Harvick.

Though Harvick is actively involved in the company's education programs and "green" initiatives, he does not have a personal services agreement with Shell. Harvick's personal appearances and other obligations to the sponsor are covered by the master agreement with RCR.

"Shell and Pennzoil have enjoyed much success on and off the track as a result of our alliance with Richard Childress Racing and Kevin Harvick," said Heidi Massey-Bong, senior business adviser for NASCAR sponsorship at Shell Oil Co. U.S.

"We are pleased to be sponsoring the #29 car in 2010 and look forward to watching the Shell and Pennzoil colors each week as part of the RCR team and to continued success next season. Beyond that, we do not have any further news or information regarding the rumours."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News