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Sharp excited for future with KHI trucks purchase

September 23, 2011, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

LOUDON, N.H. -- Team owner: Timing perfect for growth of team with help of Harvicks, employees

For Eddie Sharp, it was the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. For a Camping World Truck Series team owner who had been looking to expand his single-vehicle operation, the assets of a championship-caliber organization like Kevin Harvick Inc. were simply too much to resist.

"It was a no-brainer," Sharp said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where the Truck Series is slated to compete Saturday. "Obviously, the financial side of it and all that had to get figured out. But as somebody told me today -- if you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly."

"Obviously, the financial side of it and all that had to get figured out. But as somebody told me today -- if you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly."

--EDDIE SHARP

Sharp, who currently fields the No. 6 truck of Justin Lofton, has purchased controlling interest in the two KHI entries that Harvick is shedding in order to devote his full attention to the Sprint Cup title. With the acquisition of the No. 8 and 33 trucks, Eddie Sharp Racing will field at least three entries on the Truck tour in 2012. A fourth truck, stemming from the part-time entry Harvick fields, isn't out of the question "if I can put everything together," Sharp said. "It could become four tomorrow."

It's all a big leap for an owner whose cars have dominated the ARCA series, and who has posted a single top-10 finish in his maiden voyage in the Truck Series this season. Sharp said his expanded team will be aligned with Richard Childress Racing, running Chevrolets and as de facto teammates with RCR's No. 3 and 22 entries. It will operate under an arrangement similar to what the No. 78 car of Furniture Row Racing has on the Sprint Cup side -- ESR will obtain chassis and aerodynamic help from RCR, and its officials will sit in on competition meetings.

"I have nothing short of high expectations here," Sharp said, "and hopefully, this makes a statement that I'm serious about being here, supporting the series. It's not cocky, it's about being here and giving guys a job and making a home here. What Kevin and [wife] DeLana built is nothing short of spectacular and first class. I don't want to be known as the guy that just became KHI's next life. I want to build ESR. But you've got to take advantage of opportunities, and we're doing that."

Harvick said his plan is to run the No. 8 and 33 trucks out of KHI for the rest of this season, because of sponsor responsibilities. Next year, those entries will operate out of ESR's 40,000-square-foot shop in Denver, N.C.

"Our main concern when we decided to do what we did with KHI was to do everything we could to keep everything on the track," Harvick said. "With Eddie acquiring the two teams, that's going to give everybody the opportunity to move forward. He's going to come to the shop and interview people and make sure they fit into his company and want to be a part of his company. So those two teams will be on track, and for him it's a great way to build his company, with two teams that are already established. And if he can get the people to go along with them, that's even better. All that's up to him now, and for us, we're obviously going a different direction with our lives and business. But to have the people have the opportunity to still have jobs and move forward is the part that we've been concentrating on at this point to try and help them."

Sharp plans to begin interviewing current KHI employees next week. "That's all in process," he said. "You can lay the best plan out. Kevin's done a hell of a job assembling awesome people. I would be a fool to not make it work. That was part of what made it attractive for Kevin to work with me, is that it was important to me to keep those guys working as it was for him. This is about a win-win. This is about what Kevin getting what he and DeLana felt like they needed for their future, and it worked great for my future."

As for drivers, Sharp said an official announcement will follow in the coming weeks. "I can tell you that two of the seats are full, and one is about to be," he added. Friday morning, KHI driver and four-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday said he hadn't yet heard the news of the sale. The other KHI driver, Nelson Piquet Jr., competed in several ARCA races for Sharp last season. Sharp expects a number of current KHI employees to make the move from the team's facility in Kernersville, N.C., to ESR.

"We'll move people over that are already at Kevin's," Sharp said. "Basically, we're just changing ZIP codes."