CONCORD, N.C. -- After announcing a multiyear extension to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing, 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick used much of his media session on Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway to set the record straight about rumors that ran amok since the announcement earlier this season that SHR would switch from Chevrolet to Ford in 2017.
Harvick said there wasn't a shred of truth to reports he had been contacted by Hendrick Motorsports to replace Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Chevrolet.
"It got so out of control that I actually went to Kasey Kahne and I said, 'Look, man, here's what's going on,'" Harvick said before Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (9 p.m. ET on FS1). "And I told him there's not been one person that's called me from your organization, and I want you to have the trust in your team.
"I want you to believe in your team. I want you to keep working on the things that you're working on, but here's where it's at. Here's what I'm doing. Here's what I see. Here's how it's going to go. And here we are up until last week still running around."
Even though Harvick has been a Chevrolet driver for the vast majority of his NASCAR career -- and for his entire 16-year stint in the Sprint Cup series -- the manufacturer change at Stewart-Haas was not the sort of move that would have caused him to leave the organization.
In fact, though his contract is up this year, Harvick said Stewart-Haas held a two-year option on his services. But Harvick and SHR went through a complete restructuring of his contract after the implementation of the owners' charter system this year, one of the byproducts of which was to change the distribution of purse money.
"I would tell you, yes, that's probably what originally started all the conversations, and things snowballed from there into 'well, let's just make this better since we're going to have to work on one portion, let's just get rid of the whole thing and start over and just make it all right so it's all right going forward and everybody's on the same page.'
"But that's definitely what started the conversations."
Though Harvick didn't specify the terms of his new contract with Stewart-Haas, he did say that, typically, his deals span "four- or five-year chunks," which would take him to his mid-40s by the end of the current term.
"It's all been great with the management at SHR," Harvick said. "I never even worried about having to take phone calls or place phone calls or put our team in a position to go out -- my personal team -- in a position to go out and talk to other people. That was never the case.
"It was just extending an extension that needed to be put in place because, in the end, it's like I've said several times, I feel like I've got the best crew chief in the garage (Rodney Childers).
"Our team has been performing well and doing the things that they need to do, and I like the challenges that face us in the future. That motivates me to have those things in place. And so it's all been good. It's just been some crazy rumors that, however they got started, they got started."
Tire wear will dictate all-star strategy
This year's unique NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race format, which requires the first nine, 10 or 11 drivers to start the final 13-lap segment on old tires (with the specific number determined by lot) with cars on new tires behind them, already has drivers thinking about hypothetical scenarios.
Drivers in 12th place or worse entering the final segment, where only green-flag laps count, will be guaranteed fresh rubber, and that number is crucial to a lot of calculations.
"We have to see how the tires wear," said Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. "That's really going to be the key. And then, man, it's just I was going through it this morning ... if you're running sixth or seventh before the final stop, I don't know, then it becomes maybe a race for 12th or something.
"I just don't know how this thing is going to play out. The advantage that I have is we have a really fast pit crew, so I feel like even if we're not leading and we feel like the tires are the deal and we're running fifth or something we could still come off of pit road first. I think for us and for my team, fortunately, because of my pit crew, I have more options I believe."
On the other hand, the restart for the final segment will be anything but orderly.
"Somebody brought up the fact that, (with) the complete chaos that's going to ensue when they drop the green flag, you might be better off being in the back with fresher tires, because I believe some people are going to be wrecking," Edwards said.
"I think the factor that's going to determine what you do is how much the tires fall off, how much advantage do you have. I don't know, it's going to be -- before that caution comes out, there's going to be a lot of people trying a lot of different things."