By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
Kevin Harvick has a new primary sponsor for the 2011 season in Budweiser. The sponsor was announced to be moving to Richard Childress Racing in 2011 Tuesday.
Shell announced earlier in the season that they would be leaving Harvick, who they had sponsored since the 2007 season, when 2010 was over. So Harvick, who has been the point leader for the majority of the season, has had a question mark on what his sponsor would be for next year.
However this week Harvick has answered that question, as well as locking himself into the chase for the championship.
“It’s been a great start to the season. Obviously it’s nice to go into this week’s race and not have to worry about a Chase spot – better than anything going into Richmond without having to worry about a Chase spot.” Harvick said in a NASCAR teleconference Tuesday.
“The next three weeks are going to be a lot of fun, to go to three racetracks we’ve won at before and run well this year, to try to get more bonus points and get prepared for the Chase.”
Last season Harvick’s team and Richard Childress Racing in general had nose dived in performance last season, and as a result Harvick was rumored to be leaving the team. Childress talked about how far the team has come in the past year.
“Well, I didn’t do it alone. It took a lot of people to do it. We all really started working on it really hard about May or June. We knew we weren’t going down the right path with a lot of things. We pulled everyone together, put ideas together, came up with what we needed to change. We knew we had to work on things to become a championship-caliber race team.” Childress said.
“It started to turn around with eight or nine races to go last year. The performance of the car started picking up. I felt good about starting this season out.”
Harvick added that basically everything on the team from top to bottom changed, and that is why they are seeing results this season.
“I think the easiest thing to tell you, it would be easier to tell you what didn’t change to be honest with you. I think everything from top to bottom. Richard came in and made a lot of restructuring changes, restructured a lot of personnel on the race teams, moved Scott Miller into competition director.” Harvick said.
“After the personnel changes took place, I think we came up with a different direction. The engineering department has become more involved. We’re able to use the tools, our seven-post, simulation, all the things we already had here, just using them correctly and more often.”
Budweiser will help bring the No. 29 team to the forefront as far as marketing goes next season, and Richard Childress wasn’t shy on his excitement of the possibilities that will come the team’s way in 2011.
“From my part, it’s an honor to be with a company that has such a great activation program. They do so much around the racetracks. They do so much for the fans. They’ve got some really neat stuff coming next year for our fans.” Childress stated.
“To be part of that and to be Kevin, to see the car in so many places, the things that Budweiser does with their program, it’s an added benefit to Kevin and RCR.”
Harvick would go on to say the more publicity you can get the better things are.
“The more visibility you get from your sponsor activating your sponsorship is good for everybody. For me, I think the best thing about Budweiser coming onboard is the fact just it’s a real casual sponsor as far as the atmosphere and the things that come with it. They like to have fun. They like to be relaxed. They put so much behind it. It’s just a fun, fun brand to represent.” Harvick explained.
“I don’t think much is going to change. They like who we are or they wouldn’t be here. I think as we go forward, it’s going to be something great to see on the 29 car.”
Budweiser of course was the primary sponsor for Kasey Kahne at Richard Petty Motorsports. However with Kahne’s decision to leave the team, the sponsor was at that point free to look for a new team itself. That seemingly left the No. 9 car at Richard Petty Motorsports sponsor-less and driver-less, but another silly season domino would fall Tuesday.
Richard Petty Motorsports announced Marcos Ambrose as the driver for their No. 9 car starting in 2011. According to their twitter account Ambrose’s primary sponsor will be Stanley Tools.