February 26, 2016

HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) Kevin Harvick, who has spent his entire Sprint Cup career driving a Chevrolet, said Friday this week's announcement that Stewart-Haas Racing is moving to Ford won't force him to look for a new team.

Harvick and SHR co-owner Tony Stewart each won championships for the team driving Chevrolets. The team's move to Ford in 2017 set up a potentially awkward final 2016 season with Chevrolet and led to questions about how Harvick would react.

The 2014 Cup champion said during Friday's practice at Atlanta Motor Speedway he plans to stay with SHR.

''Just got to follow along with what your organization thinks is best,'' Harvick told reporters. ''I think they have the same interest in mind that I do, and that's to compete for wins and championships.''

Asked if that means he won't leave SHR, Harvick said ''I just want to win races. That's what we're all going to focus on.''

Harvick said the move does not make him a free agent. He was evasive when asked about his contract status after 2016.

''My contract, I haven't even looked at,'' he said. ''I haven't even asked. I just assumed that it was all sealed up and done.''

SHR will get its engines from Roush Yates, instead of Hendrick Motorsports.

Wednesday's surprise announcement was still big news on Friday during practice and qualifying. Greg Biffle said it was ''a very smart move on Ford's part.''

''Quite honestly, I'm very surprised it took to 2016 for them to make a move to add some competitive teams to the lineup because they want to be known for winning on Sundays,'' said Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Roush Performance Ford.

''You've got to have enough organizations where your odds get higher. If you own three-quarters of the field, your odds are better each week.''

Stewart has driven for General Motors in all but one of his 18 NASCAR seasons. He is retiring after this season.

Stewart said Wednesday he hopes to continue in his ''great relationship'' with Hendrick Motorsports in 2016 even as SHR prepares ''to try to be as self-sufficient as we can going into 2017.''

''We see this as a lot of growth for Stewart-Haas Racing,'' Stewart said. ''... It's a great opportunity for us to kind of get out of the shadows and, to some degree, get off the coattails, to a certain degree, and really get out on our own.''

Even though he has been loyal to Chevrolet throughout his career, Harvick was firm in his commitment to SHR.

''I've got a great team,'' he said. ''I've got great people. I've got a great organization that's wanted to win races and to not be committed to them would be foolish on my part to be in the best position I've ever been in as a driver.''

Stewart said announcing the plans for Ford so early in the 2016 season could be seen as awkward when he and Harvick are still driving Chevrolets.

''Yeah, we definitely understand that, but at the same time we're committed to Chevrolet this year and we're committed to winning races and trying to contend for a championship again this year,'' Stewart said. ''They realize that. We're still all-in this year with Chevrolet. ... That's what we do. That's our commitment as a race team. We still respect our partnership with Chevy at this point.''

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