Kevin Harvick

Release Date: 
Fri, 2012-02-24 04:20
Driver Profile Year: 
2012
Driver Slider Teaser: 
<p> If there’s anyone in the Sprint Cup garage hungrier for a championship than Kevin Harvick, they’re very good at hiding it.</p>
Owner: 
Richard Childress
Team Name: 
Richard Childress Racing
Manufacturer: 
Chevrolet
Sponsor: 
Budweiser
Driver Rank: 
1
Car Number: 
29
Crew Chief: 
Shane Wilson
Recap: 
<br />
Preseason Rank: 1
 
2012 Spin
If there’s anyone in the Sprint Cup garage hungrier for a championship than Kevin Harvick, they’re very good at hiding it. Harvick enters 2012 having been within striking distance of the last two titles, and now he wants one for himself.
A two-time Nationwide Series champion, this 36-year-old veteran knows what kind of season it takes to win it all — and this year, he can put that kind of season together.
 
Consistency? Check. Harvick had it in 2010, when he had an average finish of slightly better than ninth and would have easily won a title without the Chase. Wins? Check. He had four of them last year. Only one driver had more. Luck? Almost: Harvick recorded only one DNF in 2011, although he limped a battered car around Talladega for a 32nd-place finish in the Chase. If he can put those three ingredients together, Harvick could easily come away with his first Cup championship.
 
Such achievement won’t come from resting on his laurels. Despite consecutive third-place points finishes, a track record most drivers would drool over, Harvick still walked into owner Richard Childress’ office and demanded changes for 2012. So after Homestead, crew chief Gil Martin was out, moved to director of team operations for RCR and replaced by Shane Wilson. Nearly all of Harvick’s pit crew — whose coach, Matt Clark, was unceremoniously released in August — got their Christmas gifts in the form of checks … as in unemployment checks.
 
“The expectations at RCR are to win championships,” says Childress, justifying the housecleaning. “So the decision was made to move Shane Wilson to the No. 29. Shane did a great job for RCR when he first got here and built on that success the past three seasons with our No. 33 team, so we feel he will continue to do a great job.”
 
Indeed, Wilson has a history of A-level performance — three wins with Clint Bowyer in Cup, a Chase appearance, and before that, a title with Harvick in the then-Busch Series in 2006. The duo won eight of Harvick’s nine races together that year, with the driver collecting 23 top 5s and 32 top 10s in cruising to the largest margin of victory in that division’s 30-year history. If the two hit on the same type of chemistry again … cue the dynamite.
 
Those changes, of course, were easier to make for an RCR program that consolidated its efforts following the 2011 campaign. For the second time in four years, it cut back from four Cup teams to three, which has proven to be a better formula for the overall operation: In the last five years, it’s 1-for-8 in Chase appearances with four teams and 9-for-9 in Chase appearances with three. Making better use of its money can only lead to better equipment, as RCR chassis are as good as anyone’s, and the Earnhardt-Childress powerplants that propel them come from one of the top engine programs in the sport. Solid sponsorship for the No. 29, in the form of Budweiser, Jimmy John’s and increased funding from Rheem, leaves the car primed and ready for success in 2012.
 
The driver himself has also made changes to hone his focus, disbanding self-owned Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series teams after a decade. While Harvick was very successful as an owner, combining with wife DeLana to win races and titles, it’s possible that the stress of it all was a distraction. With ownership duties removed, Harvick has nothing to focus on in 2012 but the Cup title.
 
The key for all involved is to keep Harvick’s eyes — not his fists — on the prize. He’s come a long way, but in a year when the driver’s own reputation is on the line, he must control his legendary temper. In an era of “Boys, Have At It,” Harvick’s rivalries, like the one with Kyle Busch, must be kept in check. Taking out one’s frustrations on a competitor may mean getting them handed back, and that costs points.
 
Still, Harvick’s aggression is one of the reasons he’s successful. He knows how to take a win and rarely settles for one position less than he can possibly scrap for during a race. Following a season when a single point would have changed the championship picture, that refusal to settle for anything less could mean the difference between the head table and a table on the floor in Las Vegas.

What the Competition is Saying
Anonymous quotes from crew chief, owners, media members and fellow drivers
For the second year in a row, Harvick appeared to be a serious threat for the title but came up short. A crew chief change at the end of the 2011 season will put Shane Wilson atop the No. 29 pit box this year, but will it be enough to propel Harvick from title contender to champion?
 
“I don’t know if Harvick really has what it takes to win a championship,” an insider says. “Can you see him doing what (Tony) Stewart did in the Chase?”
 
This season, Harvick will not have to handle the distractions of owning and maintaining his own team, Kevin Harvick, Inc. Could the lack of distraction be the edge Harvick needs to earn that first title? “The closing of KHI might be a big blow to him as an owner, but on the racer side, it’s one less thing he has to worry about,” says another garage insider. “He is surrounded with a great group of people both on the personal and professional side, and there is no telling how much more the focus will help him in 2012. He’s a title contender for sure.”
 
“A lot of people have a lot of different opinions about Harvick,” a media member said. “But you can’t ignore the fact that over the last two seasons he’s been a more consistent title threat than anyone else. It’s not a stretch to think he improves on those third-place showings.”

2011 Stats
Starts: 36
Wins: 4
Top 5s: 9
Top 10s: 19
Poles: 0
DNF: 1
Laps Led: 403
Laps Completed: 10,450
Lead Lap Finishes: 30
Bonus Points: 30
Races Led: 17
Average Start: 18.8
Average Finish: 11.5
After First 26 Races: 2nd
Final Points Standing: 3rd
Driver Rating: 92.2 (8th)
 
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Driver Name: 
Kevin Harvick