OK, back on my regular schedule of one of these a day. Today is part-32 of my 35-Day series previewing all those teams guaranteed a spot in the Daytona 500.
It’s been a long journey, but I want to finish strong with my last four drivers.
Today we look at a driver who finished in the top-five in points last year.
Kevin Harvick (or Happy as he’s nicknamed) enters his ninth season in the Cup Series at Richard Childress Racing.
This is the driver that has finally broken out of the shadow of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. (Harvick was chosen as the replacement for Earnhardt , who was killed at Daytona in 2001.)
For years, he was always the guy driving Eanhardt’s car, but lately, new sponsorships and a different paint scheme have really set him apart from that.
Harvick is nicknamed Happy, but he can be anything but that at the track sometimes. This is the guy that we’ve seen numerous times pushing drivers and/or getting up in their faces (Juan Pablo Montoya) after some bumping on the track.
Last season was an average year for Harvick, while he didn’t visit Victory Lane, he put together solid runs most of the season and finished fifth in points.
However, if he wants to elevate himself to another level and compete for a championship, he’s got to be consistently challenging for wins each weekend, and RCR has yet to prove they can hang with the likes of Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards.
Here is a look at today’s preview:
Today’s Spotlight: No. 29
Team: Richard Childress Racing
Driver: Kevin Harvick
Driver 2008 Stats: Harvick won more than $5.5 million in 2008, but he never visited Victory Lane. He finished fourth in the points with seven top-fives, 18 top-10 finishes and a 12th place average finish.
News: The only news concerning the Richard Childress team is the move to a four-car operation. Clint Bowyer made the move from the Jack Daniels No. 07 Chevy to the new General Mills No. 33.
The addition of a fourth team can do nothing but benefit the entire organization. More cars equals more teams, which equals more information to share. Well, at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
I think the four drivers Childress has in his stable are a great set that will work together and eventually bring one of the teams a championship run.
The other news, concerning Harvick, is the rumor that he could be moving his Truck and Nationwide Series programs up into Cup someday. Of course, we all figured it would happen sooner or later, but with the lack of competitive teams expected to show up each week, Harvick said it would be a great opportunity to test the waters.
My Prediction for 2009: If Harvick follows his trend of the last three years, he’s set to finish outside the top-10 in points. Last season he finished fourth, the year before, 10th. In 2006, Harivick finished fourth, but in 2005 he finished 14th. I predict that Harvick will make the Chase, but finish in the bottom half of the field between seventh and 11th.
Will this team remain in top-35: Sure will.
Up Tomorrow: No. 16 Greg Biffle
This story also appears on my blog: Sports 101
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