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A Kevin Harvick stunner: he's closing the doors to KHI and selling it all off....but just why?

   Kevin Harvick: a change in direction (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)  

   By Mike Mulhern

   Kevin Harvick, in a stunning move, announced Friday he is effectively shutting the doors on his KHI (Kevin Harvick Inc.) racing operation in Kernersville, N.C., a decision that puts the jobs of his 140-some employees at stake.
   Harvick and wife DeLana have built one of the most impressive non-Cup operations in NASCAR, in a large, just expanded facility that fields highly successful Trucks teams and Nationwide teams.
   Now though Harvick says he'll be shutting down his Truck operation and letting Richard Childress, his Cup team owner, take over the two Nationwide operations.  Just how enthusiastic Childress might be about all this is not clear. Just a year ago Childress turned the Nationwide stuff over to Harvick.
   Are NASCAR team owners making money or losing money?
   At least one major Sprint Cup team owner, according to sources, has been racing at a deficit this season, and last season too.
   He may not be alone.
   And as the NASCAR season turns toward the fall, it looks like a lot of good NASCAR crewmen will be looking for jobs, maybe as many as 500 in the job-wanted line. Engine builders in particular seem to be an endangered species.
   The fate of the two-car Red Bull team is still up in the air; general manager Jay Frye says he is talking to two potential new backers.
   And similar sponsorship problems have hit team owners Jack Roush and Richard Childress, raising questions about whether they may have to cut back to three teams next season.
   Now Harvick, who employees 140 people at KHI, says he's shutting the doors and selling the shop and equipment.
   Harvick, whose Sunday job is driving Sprint Cup cars for Childress, has built KHI, with wife DeLana, into a sports powerhouse of Truck and Nationwide teams, winning races, and building chassis for other teams.
   Now Harvick says it's all over. His Truck racing business is history; his chassis-building operation is history; his two Nationwide tour deals will be reverting to Childress, with crewmen still to be decided.


Kevin and DeLana Harvick: savvy business people. But closing KHI (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


    Of all the people in this sport the Harvicks have been among the most business-savvy. And the demise of KHI would seem to be a major blow to the sport, psychologically. If the Harvicks can't make it work -- or simply don't want to try anymore -- then who can?
     "Kevin Harvick Inc. will actually just become Kevin Harvick Inc. like it used to be back in the day -- We'll handle all my personal stuff," Harvick says.
    "But the racing portion of Kevin Harvick Inc. will operate out of RCR. There won't be anything racing-wise operating out of our shop.
   "There will be no Trucks that run out of KHI (next season). As far as what happens with the Truck teams (the rest of this season), that (word) will come in the weeks to come.
   "The manufacturing side has been shut down for a month now."

   What will happen to the 140 people now working at KHI? What happens to all the equipment, the facilities?
   The shops are for sale, he says.
   "There is really no reason for us to keep the equipment," Harvick says. "Richard has everything he needs."
   Selling off the equipment, Harvick says, "is the easy part.
   "The people part is the hard part. We told them Wednesday afternoon.
   "There will be a number of jobs that come available at RCR, and they will all have the opportunity to go about those jobs.
    "Our goal right now is to get as many people in a solid position as we can going forward. That is really why we did this so early, to make sure everyone had a great opportunity to fit in with the new situations."

    Harvick's announcement comes amid rumors and speculation about what might be going on behind the scenes, and as a lawsuit by former crew chief David Hyder has just been announced. Hyder was fired last month.
    About the lawsuit, Harvick said "I don't have any comments. Unfortunately in today's age, lawsuits are a part of business."
    And the future of KHI?
    "There are a lot of factors that went into a lot of the decisions that were made," Harvick said slowly, almost somberly.
    Harvick referred to rumors about issues between him and DeLana and denied any complications. He did say it was "crazy, the way the rumors have spun out of control.
    "DeLana and I just sat back and laughed at a lot of them."
    However for Harvick Friday was almost a sad day, and he was reflective.
    On the business side, Harvick says "As a couple -- and as a group at KHI -- we've made a lot of good business decisions over the years."
    The change, he said, "is going to allow us time to explore other business opportunities."
   But no details.
   Harvick pointed to his personal successes with DeLana at KHI:  "We have been able to win championships.
   "It is not like we are struggling to get by, or not winning.
    "We are winning races, we have got the sponsorship, we have done the things right.
    "But really the only thing I want to do that we have not been able to accomplish in my career is win a Sprint Cup championship.
     "Cup cars make it all go around. Richard and I have talked about this a lot."

    Just what really triggered all this is still not quite clear. Harvick himself offered a rambling rationale for his and DeLana's decision, and he insisted it was "all good."
    One point to consider, somehow, is that this was the first full season for the Nationwide tour's new car-of-tomorrow, an expensive changeover venture for all concerned.
   Another point to consider -- how will DeLana Harvick take all this. She has been an integral part of KHI.
   Harvick's chief rivals in the Nationwide series are teams run and backed by Cup owners Joe Gibbs, Jack Roush and Roger Penske. For example, last weekend at Atlanta Harvick himself finished fourth in the Nationwide 300 behind Roush's Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Gibbs' Kyle Busch.
   "It makes more sense, from a performance standpoint, for us to put them back at RCR," Harvick said. "The technical inspections (by NASCAR) have become extremely difficult for a stand-alone team….
    "That is the unfortunate part about where we are with the processes and things that come with the Nationwide cars.
    "So, from a performance standpoint, I feel we will be better with the Cup people and technology in the shop."
    But dropping Trucks…..well, the Truck tour has been a hard nut for anyone to crack. Sponsorships are hard to come by, even for tour champions. For years the series was supported by Detroit car makers, but they've essentially pulled out.
    "The Truck program is really just a tough, a tough model business-wise," Harvick says. "We have scrimped and scraped and got the sponsorship.
   "General Motors has been a great supporter of everything we've done.
    "But from a business standpoint, sometimes you just have to make the decisions, and for us it just didn't make sense."

    Harvick says now he'll be focusing more on his Cup driving. "It takes an extreme amount of pressure off of me," Harvick says.
    "There are way more positives to the whole thing than negatives."
    Harvick said the cutback project "has been months in the process."
   And he insists "I think it's going to be a good thing."
   Harvick pointed to sheer expenses as a big factor:  "When you look at the expectations we put on the company….it obviously costs us more to race than probably some of the other people with no overhead.
    "The Truck series is a great series; it is a lot of fun. I would love to continue driving some races in the Truck series.
     "(But) it's just to a point we felt we needed to make some decisions from a business standpoint….  
    "There were no financial issues; we were making it all work.
     "But sometimes you just feel like you have got to get something out of it.
     "We were winning races and loved to be a part of that, but in the end it's business."


 Kevin Harvick: What next? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)





It is oblivious that the truck series is gonna fold, now that detroit has abandoned another facility. It goes with the neighborhood. Kevin and deLana have, again, used their business acumen wisely and gave it up to RCR, which can handle the resource drain of a failing series. The trucks don't even have a full schedule (where they racing this weekend?), so how are they gonna get sponsors if they don't run? KHI saw this and knew that the Nationwide side of it was gonna be sparse, so they couldn't support a major piece of their business. Giving it up now allows their people to get whatever jobs they can before it all falls down.

Congrats to Kevin and Delana for a very smart move.

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So this gives RCR a place to

So this gives RCR a place to use up some of the cast off COT's from the Cup series. However something doesn't add up. What has changed since last year to make RCR want the Nationwide program back?
Methinks that theres more to this than they are saying.

Maybe it's something as

Maybe it's something as simple as they've decided they want more of a personal life..and although I know they've said they didn't want kids, it's possible that's all changed- and simply want to start a family. Hard to do that when you've got so many irons in the fire..selling out has given them financial security, and opportunities that didn't exist before. I have a lot of admiration for DeLana. Good Luck to them both.

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