Pieces are starting to fall into place for Kevin Harvick's move to Stewart-Haas Racing. The team has formally announced that Harvick will run the #4 starting next season, and that Budweiser will remain with Harvick as a sponsor for 20 races.
This is significant and helpful news for SHR; one of NASCAR's most recognizable sponsors continuing to commit to Harvick will help both his transition and the team's bottom line.
Some early reports indicated the team had the option of selecting either the 4 or the 8 to adorn Harvick's car, but Budweiser preferred the 4 to avoid confusion with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Budweiser #8 from his pre-Hendrick days. The #4 was most recently run in the Sprint Cup series by Kasey Kahne in 2011 during his Red Bull transition year.
The big question facing Stewart-Haas now is whether to expand to four teams, or allow impending free agent Ryan Newman to walk and fold the existing #39 team into the Harvick camp. (Danica Patrick isn't going anywhere.) Despite Stewart's recent success, the team as a whole has struggled this season, and with sponsor dollars and competitive balance more of an issue, four cars could be a tall task.
[UPDATE: And indeed Newman is gone after this year. "“We’re not ready to expand to a fourth team,’’ Stewart said, per MRN. “Unfortunately, this will be the last year we have Ryan. That’s probably what’s made this a bittersweet day. I’m bringing in another of one of my friends to the organization, but I’m also ... losing a friend at the end of the year to the organization."]
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-
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