Kevin Harvick, the 37 year old driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Cheverolet for Richard Childress Racing has accomplished everything he can, and it’s time to move on. With speculation that Harvick will move to Stewart Haas Racing at the end of the 2013 season, I find it hard to believe he hasn’t jumped ship earlier. Harvick has won a Daytona 500, Brickyard 4oo, Coca Cola 600, an IROC Championship, two Busch Series Championships in 2001, and 2006, but will never win a Sprint Cup at RCR.
Harvick, along with teammates Paul Menard and Jeff Burton all suffer from the same problem; speed. They don’t get enough support from the company to get the speed they need in order to compete with teams using Hendricks engines. He won’t have that problem at SHR, as they buy their engines from Hendrick Motor Sports.
RCR has a history of being slow to catch up with changes in NASCAR. When they do, Kevin has a good year like he did in 2006 when he won five races with 15 top fives, and 20 top tens. He followed that performance with only one win in the next three years. He picked up one win in 2007, but went win-less in 2008, and 2009. NASCAR went full time with the new COT car at the beginning of the 2008 season, and as usual, RCR was not ready for the change. It took two years for them to catch up.
They caught up in 2010 with Kevin getting three wins, and following with four in 2011. In 2012, NASCAR switched from the carburetors they had been using since 1949, and began using fuel injection systems. Once again, they were behind and Kevin took the entire season to finally get a win at Phoenix.
The lack of speed at RCR can be seen through Harvick’s qualifying efforts over his 12 year career, where he has only sat on the pole five times in 430 races. That’s pathetic for a driver of his stature. Dale Earnhardt never was great at qualifying, and used his qualifying for practice. You might remember, back in those days, teams brought a different engine to the track for qualifying, then switched to a race engine before the green flag.
Mr. Childress is very busy getting his grandsons, Ty and Austin Dillon through the Truck and Nationwide Series, and hasn’t devoted a lot of time and attention to his Sprint Cup teams. With his youngsters approaching Sprint Cup levels. there will be no room for Kevin Harvick soon anyway.
The only driver to ever win a Cup Championship at RCR was Dale Earnhardt. That was largely due to Dale managing his own situation. He was very active in selecting crew chiefs, tire changers and was on top of his engine program. His enormous talent overcame a lot of discrepancies in the organization.
I have always had a ton of respect for Kevin Harvick. He came into a tough situation after Dale Earnhardt was killed in turn four at Daytona, and performed under enormous pressure for a youngster who wasn’t scheduled to make a cup start until the following year. He deserves to get a shot at the elusive Cup title, and I think he will have the opportunity when he teams up with his buddy, Tony Stewart at SHR in 2014. I know I’ll be rooting for him.
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