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NASCAR: Harvick dumps side gigs to focus on racing

Kevin Harvick gets ready for a NASCAR auto race practice in his garage at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday in Daytona Beach, Fla. [AP Photo/Terry Renna]
Kevin Harvick gets ready for a NASCAR auto race practice in his garage at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday in Daytona Beach, Fla. [AP Photo/Terry Renna]

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kevin Harvick put a mic drop on his TV broadcasting career and turned off the dial on his radio show. The moonlighting gigs have been parked, minimizing his distractions, maximizing his family time, but certainly not accelerating any thoughts about retirement.

If he kept his talk show, Harvick could have broken his own news: His time in the media on hiatus, but his racing career is miles from the finish.

At 44, Harvick is not only still on the short list of NASCAR's elite drivers, the 2014 Cup champion is set to drive for a few more seasons after he agreed to a two-year contract extension with Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.

"I really like racing with the group of guys and the organization that I'm at," Harvick said Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. "I've worked my whole career and feel like I got here with a group of guys and people that I've had success with, and for me, going through a few more years in the car just made sense."

Harvick, who has 49 career wins and won the 2007 Daytona 500, did make a few key concessions in his professional life to remain focused as a championship contender at SHR. One of the more outspoken drivers in the garage, Harvick gave up his occasional job calling Xfinity Series races for Fox Sports and will no longer host his "Happy Hours" NASCAR talk show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. He has two young children -- his boy, Keelan, a fixture by his dad's side on race weekend -- and wanted another free day during the week to spend time with his family.

Harvick has been the linchpin at SHR since he left Richard Childress Racing and joined the organization in 2014. He won a championship in his first season and has 26 of his 49 career Cup wins for the team backed by Hall of Famer Tony Stewart. Harvick drives the No. 4 Ford for SHR and has finished third in the final standings each of the last three seasons -- and raced for the championship in the season finale in five of the six years of the format.

SHR was glad to keep Harvick in its four-car lineup that also includes Clint Bowyer, Cole Custer and Aric Almirola. Harvick will try to become the 13th driver to win two Daytona 500s and a victory would come 13 years after his only checkered flag at the "Great American Race."

But Harvick hasn't totally surrendered his side jobs: Harvick is still the face of Kevin Harvick Inc., a sports and celebrity-marketing agency that boasts country music singers, MMA fighters and even his fellow NASCAR drivers on the roster. KHI had a front-row seat to one of the biggest UFC fights in company history when Harvick's buddy Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone fought Conor McGregor last month in the main event of UFC 246.

Self wins ARCA opener

Michael Self won the ARCA Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, edging rising star Hailee Deegan for his eighth victory in the feeder series over the last four years.

Self held off Deegan and Drew Dollar over the final four laps for his second win at the famed track in the last three years. He also won the ARCA opener in 2018.

The 18-year-old Deegan stayed in line behind Self instead of pulling out and trying to make a pass. She settled for second, matching the best finish for a woman in a ARCA race and tying the best finish by a woman at Daytona.