SceneDaily  is reporting that Richard Childress Racing and Kevin Harvick may have reached an agreement on a contract extension that will keep Harvick in the No. 29 Chevy beyond the 2010 season. An official announcement is expected Saturday before the All Star race.
Earlier this month, team owner Richard Childress said that he hoped to have Harvick re-signed by the end of May. Harvick, however, sidestepped a question about contract talks during a media session at Dover International Speedway.
Last July, it was reported that Harvick asked to be let out of his RCR contract. At that time, rumors were circulating that Harvick wanted to take Shell/Pennzoil with him to Stewart Haas Racing in a third car.
But, last month Kasey Kahne signed with Hendrick Motorsports , despite HMS having a full stable of drivers signed through 2011. Rumors began circulating that Kahne would spend 2011 in a HMS-backed car due to the lack of an open seat at HMS. That limits Kahne’s options to Stewart Haas Racing, Phoenix Racing, and Furniture Row Racing.
With PR being put up for sale by team owner James Finch, and FRW not even being mentioned as an option, many believe Kahne will end up at SHR for one year, despite representatives for SHR saying that they have not had any discussions  with HMS reps about Kahne.
That coupled with SHR’s recent struggles may have removed SHR from the Harvick running, as Tony Stewart, owner of SHR, is not likely to be thinking about expansion to four teams when his current two-car operation is struggling.
Further fueling speculation that Harvick would leave RCR was the news that Shell/Pennzoil decided to leave the team and head to Penske Racing and driver Kurt Busch.
Still, the news that Harvick is likely to have signed an extension with RCR is not very surprising. Early this year, I wrote an article  indicating the four teams that realistically had a shot of landing Kahne — I did not include HMS because they had a full stable through the end of next year.
From that article, Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 00, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s No. 1, Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 11, Richard Childress Racing’s No. 29, Front Row Motorsports’ No. 34, Tommy Baldwin Racing’s No. 36, TRG Motorsports’ No. 71, Red Bull Racing’s No. 82, and Robert Yates Racing/Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 98 could have open seats at the end of this season.
The Nos. 00, 1, and 11 are more than likely going to re-sign their current drivers. MWR is currently working on an extension  for David Reutimann. It would be hard to imagine Earnhardt Ganassi Racing or Joe Gibbs Racing would release Jamie McMurray or Denny Hamlin, respectively, given the way both of them are running.
That leaves the Nos. 34, 36, 71, 82, and 98 as potential open seats. The No. 98 isn’t likely to lose Paul Menard as a driver because if they cut ties with him, it’s extremely likely that his sponsor Menards, which is owned by his father, will leave with him. That would effectively end that team, if another sponsor could be found.
Assuming Scott Speed is out of the No. 82 — and there’s nothing to indicate that this is the case — that would have been the most competitive team with an available seat. But, considering the No. 82 is a Toyota, it’s unlikely Harvick would have gone there because of his interests in Chevy with his Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series teams.
That leaves the relatively uncompetitive teams of the Nos. 34, 36, and 71. If for no other reason, it is highly unlikely Harvick would have even considered these rides as they would be a step down for him. Those teams are working on shoestring budgets and are in building mode. They are not yet close enough to competitive to be able to attract a driver of Harvick’s caliber.
Had he been interesting in going the same route as Tony Stewart, buying an interest in an underfunded team and turning it into a contender, perhaps he would have considered these teams. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.
At the end of the day, Harvick looked at the available seats out there and determined that no situation — including a brand new team — would give him as much of a chance to win as RCR. So, if the reports are true and Harvick did in fact sign an extension with RCR, it comes as no surprise.