Will Harvick Be Happy?
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
No one was making career projections for Kevin Harvick when he stepped into the driver’s seat of Richard Childress Racing’s No. 29 Chevrolet in February 2001.
True, Harvick was taking over one of the best rides in racing, the car that, until the horror of the 2001 Daytona 500, had belonged to the iconic Dale Earnhardt Sr.
But Harvick was supposed to be a Nationwide Series driver, one Childress was grooming for a shot at the big time. Neither of them could imagine the big time would arrive so quickly.
In spectacular fashion, Harvick won in only his third time in the car, edging Jeff Gordon in a tight finish at Atlanta.
Suddenly, Harvick’s career curve had a big upside.
At that point, few would have imagined that, 11 seasons later, Harvick would still be searching for his first Sprint Cup championship.
There is the suspicion that Harvick, a tough, fiery competitor, is among those who is surprised by that zero total.
Harvick was fifth in 2003 and fourth in 2006 and 2008. The bigger seasons have been the last two, years in which Harvick finished third each time. The fact that Harvick has been close but has not won the championship looms bigger at this point in his career than the positives associated with two top-five runs.
Never slow to express himself within the RCR circle, Harvick pushed for change and got it. Shane Wilson, a success working with Harvick in the past, has replaced Gil Martin as the team’s crew chief.
“We have to win more races in the Chase,” Harvick said. “That’s what won Tony (Stewart) the championship. We lost our consistency throughout the whole year. As we go forward, you have to have that consistency and you have to win, as well.
“We have to keep up with the changes of the sport. We have to push forward and hopefully get in front of that learning curve. I felt like we were just on the tail of that curve. We need to be the ones pushing forward.”
Harvick is almost certain to be in the discussion for another shot at the championship this year. But another shot won’t be enough.
It’s time to make it happen.
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