2010 Ride: No. 29 Richard Childress Chevrolet
2010 Primary Sponsors: Shell/Pennzoil, Pennzoil Ultra, Reese’s
2010 Owner: Richard Childress
2010 Crew Chief: Gil Martin
2010 Stats: 36 starts, 3 wins, 16 top fives, 26 top 10s, 0 poles, third in points
High Point: Harvick dominated the regular season of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. The RCR driver led the standings for 20 of the first 26 races before the Chase points were reset and was seeded third to start the postseason. Harvick would eventually drop to fifth before rebounding back to third, earning an outside chance of winning the Sprint Cup Series championship heading into Homestead.
Low Point: The major low point of the season for Harvick was simply starting the Chase. As stated above, after leading the points for 20 of the 26 races, Harvick’s lead of over 200 points was erased, starting off with a 20-point deficit instead he would never overcome. Failing to lead the championship standings at any point over the final 10 races, Harvick posted the highest average finish of anyone during the Chase races (5.8) and it still wasn’t enough.
Summary: The season began with uncertainty for Harvick. He was coming off a lackluster season that saw no victories, five top fives, nine top-10 finishes and a 19th-place finish in the Sprint Cup Series points standings. To top it off, Harvick was in a contract year, some ugly spats with owner Richard Childress making divorce between the two a real possibility. In April, primary sponsor Shell/Pennzoil announced they would not renew their contract and would move over to Penske Racing in 2011, funding problems for the future that added to the pressure within this program.
But winning cures all ills, as they say; Harvick started the 2010 season with five top-10 finishes in the first eight races before he picked up his first of three victories of the season at the Talladega spring race. Taking the points lead, a contract extension followed in mid-May and suddenly, this team’s focus turned towards an unlikely championship.
Harvick went on to win again in the Daytona spring race and in the August Michigan race, setting himself up nicely for the postseason. While failing to achieve the ultimate goal of a Sprint Cup title, he still wound up third, 41 points from the top and with valuable experience to take with him going forward.
It was an interesting season off the track for Harvick as well, becoming the center of several feuds. In March, Carl Edwards called Harvick “a bad person” after Happy lebeled Edwards “a fake” following the spring Atlanta race. Harvick and Joey Logano also traded words after Harvick spun Logano while the two were racing for position at Pocono in June. The incident led to the “comment heard around the NASCAR world” when Logano said that Harvick’s wife DeLana “wears the fire suit in the family.”
The conflict eventually spun off into a t-shirt, one that the Harvicks sold to benefit charity. Denny Hamlin and Harvick also had an on-track incident during a practice session in Dover this September. It came after Hamlin had criticized Harvick’s teammate Clint Bowyer, claiming the driver made excuses for a failed post-race inspection the previous week in New Hampshire. An on-track confrontation continued later inside of the Sprint Cup Series garage, both men hemming and hawing at each other although the two said they made up a few days later.
Team Ranking: First. Harvick was the best driver out of the Richard Childress Racing team. However, it was only by a few points positions. All three RCR teams made a cameo in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase, as Bowyer finished 10th while Jeff Burton finished 12th.
Off-Track News: The Kevin Harvick Foundation announced that the foundation will donate over $150,000 to Cal State University Bakersfield. The scholarship is for one year at CSUB and will be given to one student each year for the next 12 years. It is open only to student-athletes from Harvick’s hometown of Bakersfield, Calif. The first recipient of the scholarship was Lauren Holderman, a sophomore from CSUB and graduate of Bakersfield High School.
2011 Outlook: Once again, Richard Childress Racing will move from a three-car to a four-car operation, with Paul Menard joining the team in a No. 32 Menards-sponsored Chevy. The last time the team tried this expansion, things didn’t go so well for the entire organization: they went 0-for-4 in Chase appearances and lost a sponsorship. However, team owner Richard Childress, as well as his management staff, seems to think the fourth team will not impact the performance of the other three in 2011.
Harvick is also getting a new sponsor in Budweiser, who will be on the hood of his No. 29 Chevy for 20 races plus the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duels next season. A sponsor to be named will fill out the remaining races.
With money and contracts settled, how the team handles growth appears to be the biggest question mark. If the fourth team doesn’t affect the performance of Harvick, as it did two seasons ago, expect the No. 29 to be a similar position come Homestead this upcoming season. However, if the RCR four-team disaster is repeated, it could be a long year ahead for him.
2006 Frontstretch Grade: A-
2007 Grade: B
2008 Grade: A-
2009 Grade: D+
2010 Grade: A-
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