Kevin Harvick said Stewart-Haas Racing would have been much more aggressive in its pursuit of Kyle Busch for the 2023 season and beyond if he was in charge at the organization.
Busch announced Tuesday that he was heading to Richard Childress Racing next season after racing for Joe Gibbs Racing since 2008. Busch left JGR after longtime sponsor M&M Mars announced before the 2022 season that it would be leaving Busch’s No. 18 car at the end of the season.
“If it was my move, I would have been way more aggressive in trying to make sure he was on our team,” Harvick told media members on Friday at Bristol (via NBC).
Harvick also knows that signing Busch was much more than a simple Cup Series team commitment. Busch is keeping his Truck Series team Kyle Busch Motorsports in business and the team is switching to Chevrolet in 2023. The truck team requires financial backing and technical support from Chevy.
SHR is a Ford team and Ford doesn’t have the presence in the Truck Series that Chevy does. There were just four Ford trucks in Thursday night’s Truck Series race at Bristol while half of the 36-truck field was comprised of Chevrolets. Since Busch's truck team has been Toyota's flagship team since its inception, there will be a lot of behind-the-scenes maneuvering to make the Chevy switch ahead of the 2023 season.
“There’s just way more that goes into it,” Harvick said. “I’m just the guy giving opinions. I’m not the guy spending the money.”
Busch would have been a massive coup for Stewart-Haas Racing, though the team went from having an opening in 2023 to keeping its same driver lineup for next season over the course of the summer. Aric Almirola announced before the season that 2022 would be his final full-time season in the Cup Series but reversed course and signed a contract extension with the team. Busch would also be a big expense for SHR too. The team fields four cars and Busch’s salary would likely easily eclipse the salaries of Almirola, Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer.