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Speculation swirls around Kevin Harvick perhaps joining Tony Stewart next season

Tony Stewart (L) and buddy Kevin Harvick (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Things aren't going so well for car owner Richard Childress at the moment, and unless something changes none of his four Sprint Cup teams will make the NASCAR championship playoffs.
   And now, according to a report from Sports Illustrated, one of Childress' star drivers, Kevin Harvick, has asked out of the final year of his contract with Childress. There has been no confirmation or comment from either Childress or Harvick.
   With Harvick mired in a slump this spring, Childress shook up things and swapped crew chiefs and crews for Harvick. However Harvick is still struggling.
   According to the SI report, Harvick may be in talks with rival Chevy team owner Tony Stewart, a good friend of his, to run a third Cup car for Stewart next season.
    The situation involves more than just driver Harvick but also major sponsor Shell-Pennzoil, which Childress just renewed for 2010 earlier this year. However that sponsorship is based on Harvick driving for Childress.
   If Harvick were to leave, the Shell sponsorship, considered one of the biggest in the sport, could be up for grabs.
    Also at issue here is General Motors' decision last month to cut all support for Harvick's own racing operation, which fields Trucks and Nationwide teams (sometimes raced by Stewart). GM also cut all support for JR Motorsports, the Nationwide operation run jointly by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick. The future of both of those operations is an issue still up for debate.
   A Harvick move to Stewart's current two-car Cup operation could presumably lead to talks about Harvick's Truck-Nationwide operation.
   Key to all this would be Hendrick himself, presumably, since his Hendrick Motorsports provides engines and engineering to the Stewart-Ryan Newman operation.
   On top of all this comes Monday's visit by Danica Patrick to the Stewart-Newman shops. If Patrick were to start a move to NASCAR, likely now it would include something like the 'ABC' game plan that Roger Penske set up for Newman when Newman was first breaking into NASCAR – a mix of races in ARCA, Busch (now Nationwide) and Cup. Juan Pablo Montoya also went that route in learning the NASCAR ropes.
    What Patrick might actually do in 2010 is quite unclear, but she has spoken of good interest in NASCAR. Indy reports have put her in the Chip Ganassi camp, however Jack Roush officials say Patrick's business agents are shopping her throughout NASCAR.
   While it might take Patrick a while to learn the NASCAR ropes, she is considered one of the top three motorsports' properties in the U.S. at the moment, and she could provide good marketing and sponsorship punch to whoever can land her…..assuming she does make the leap, which not everyone thinks she will.
   On the plus side, if Patrick were to do some type of 'ABC' learning curve program through the Stewart-Newman operation, she would apparently have good Hendrick horsepower and engineering at every turn.

   And just what is Danica really thinking about NASCAR? Maybe an 'ABC' program through Tony Stewart's team? That could give her Hendrick power to help her learning curve (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

So is it Danica or Harvick to

So is it Danica or Harvick to Stewart-Hendrick, or are both going? Harvick needs to worry about cracking the Top 25 in points instead of shopping for another team. I could see Stewart adding two teams if Danica comes, because she will likely have a sponser in hand.

I don't think the driver is

I don't think the driver is the problem with the 29 team. It seems to me that RCR doesn't have the depth of marketing that Hendrick and Rousch-Fenway do. Without that depth, Childress spends too much time chasing sponsorships instead of improving on-track performance.
As for Danica, there is a lot of synergy between her, Go Dadddy and Hendrick. Go Daddy has been a sponsor for JR Motorsports (a Hendrick satellite) and recently appeared on the 25 with Kesolowski. I could see Danica taking Go Daddy to Stewart-Hass next year.

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