Tag:Kevin Harvick
Posted on: March 4, 2012 8:09 pm
 

Biffle, Harvick post Phoenix comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Congratulations on a very strong run out there today, and you're second in points heading into Las Vegas.  You've got to have a good feeling about all of that.

GREG BIFFLE:  Yeah, I really do.  You know, I certainly would have thought we would have run better today than we did.  We fought the car really bad beginning of this race.  I guess the track is just a lot different than it was on Friday.  I don't care so much for this format of doing all of our practice on Friday when we get here.  I like to practice and qualify, and then Saturday we have happy hour.  We have two race practices to get ready for the race.

It's difficult coming into a green racetrack and doing all your race stuff in one day to get set up for the race and just qualify on Saturday.  It was challenging, and I missed it a little bit.  Matt never gave up on the car.  He kept adjusting on it, adjusting on it.  I never thought it would get that good.  I was in trouble.  I was ready to write that thing off for a 15th, 20th place finish, but boy, it started coming around, coming around, and really took off.

Certainly excited about how they got the car going.  But I got it off a little bit for today's race.  I probably was being a little aggressive.  Great third-place finish, you know.

Q.  I didn't catch your last pit stop.  Did you have any issues with fuel?

GREG BIFFLE:  I didn't.  We just made sure it was full, and then I started saving right from there when I could.  Lift a little bit early on the straightaways if I'm not catching the guy in front of me or whatever.  So I was saving.  And then as we got longer in the run, we got those few caution laps, so that helped us.  But there with about 20 to go, they were panicked to say the least.  I heard the panic in their voice.  He's like, they did an 860 behind you -- they did an 80, you did a 60.  They wanted me to slow down, slow down, slow down, and I felt like I had saved enough gas, so I kind of kept my rhythm about where I had it.

And then with four laps to go, he sounded desperate.  So I backed up a little bit more and started kind of drafting those lap cars.  And then they're like the 29 is running out, try and pass him, try and pass him.  I'm like, well, a little late for that, but yeah, I mean, you should have told me that a lap ago, I could have passed him.  So I missed him by, I don't know, 100 feet at the start finish line, and we've still got gas in the car.  I made the cool down lap and came back and still running and no flicker of fuel pressure, so I know I've at least still got one lap.  That being said, I could have probably easily caught the 29 since he ran out, but obviously not the 11.

Q.  Can you appreciate what Tony Stewart went through today?  Did you hear about him?  He shut it off to save fuel and the thing wouldn't come back.  Is this new technology something that's going to take a few races to work out?

GREG BIFFLE:  Yeah, you could have wrote the story writer to the season starting.  There's going to be growing pains with this system.  Some people are just going to go out, it hasn't even been hot yet.  Wait until it gets hot at racetracks like Indy and other places. I don't know how much heat these things are able to handle.  That may be an issue at some point.  Not starting, cam sensors not recognizing when you shut it off and you're not using the starter but you're using the clutch.  There's all kinds of technology when this -- if you cycle -- you can't cycle the battery switch because it'll go into boot mode and the ECU --

Q.  Is it your policy not to shut the engine off?

GREG BIFFLE:  No, I shut it off today coasting.  I've been testing this winter, so...

Q.  You finished third in a car that you said wasn't to your liking.  What kind of confidence does that give you when you do feel like your car is working on all cylinders?

GREG BIFFLE:  Well, certainly don't want to be greedy, but I thought myself or the 5 would have won the race today, honestly.  My car was just so good, and qualifying -- you know, I got high in 3 and 4 and was in that fuzz, and came back and I wasn't very fast crossing the white, and the second lap I come back and qualified seventh. I knew my car was just super fast.

But I went a little more aggressive on the front end than I -- I was a little nervous about it with the heat today and how warm it was, if what I was going to do was going to work out.  I was trying to keep the front end right on the track real good, and it slid the nose and shattered the front tire.  I fought that all day.  It would be loose in and then shatter the tire when I'd try to go to the gas, so I made a little bit of a mistake probably, but I guess we could have only been two spots better.  But Vegas I won't make that same mistake.

Q.  How do you feel this year compared to last year at this time when you got off to a slow start?

GREG BIFFLE:  I'm feeling really good.  I've got all new guys.  I've got guys working really hard on the car, crew chief and team, and a guy that's really, really smart paying attention to all the fine details, and that's Matt Puccia, and that's the reason why we got two third-place finishes is because of his leadership and his decision making on pit road on what to do to the car.  It's executed, he's thinking about it.  He makes the decisions he wants, and that's why we're sitting here now.

KERRY THARP:  Greg, thanks a lot, and we'll see you in Las Vegas.  Good run today.

Our race runner up at today's eighth annual Subway Fresh Fit 500 is Kevin Harvick, and he drove the No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.  Second-place finish today and Kevin is third in points, eight out of the first-place points leader.  Kevin, talk about -- I know you said there on pit road that you were proud of your team for gutting it out here today even though you ran just a little bit shy of Sunoco there at the end.

KEVIN HARVICK:  Yeah, when you come out of caution they tell you you're nine laps short, you really don't think there's any possibility to make it.  But a couple cautions and a little bit of saving and a little bit tighter crunch on the numbers, we wound up about a lap short.

But those are the types of things you've got to do to take the chances, and when you're close enough to at least coast around, they did a good job.  So we came here and struggled at the last race here and ran 25th, 30th all day and came back and raced for a win today.  So they've done a good job over the winter, and hopefully that continues over the next few weeks in the preparation that they've done through the winter.

Q.  I guess a key question is if you had not run out of gas, do you think you would have been able to pass Denny there at the end?

KEVIN HARVICK:  I don't think so.  Our cars were pretty evenly matched.  Really the whole second half of the race, he was a little bit better on the restarts and was able to kind of scoot by on the one restart there, I lost a couple spots, so that was our weak point of the day was the restarts.

We were able to match him, make up a little bit of ground, and just -- I don't know that there would have been enough time.

Q.  In trying to determine how much fuel you had left, how big of an issue was the new EFI system for your guys to try to calculate?

KEVIN HARVICK:  Well, with the EFI it didn't really -- really, you have kind of a little bit more of a cushion because the EFI kind of kept us running there at the end.  Basically what it does is knocks the engine down to just a minimum RPM, it's like a rev limiter and that's basically caution car speed there and that's as fast as it'll go.  But it will keep running.

It got us back to the start finish line, and it ran out coming off of Turn 2 after the checkered.  You can really be pretty aggressive because you don't have to worry about the things restarting.  It has an electric fuel pump if you have to come on pit road, so you can be a little bit more aggressive.

Q.  Kevin, were you aware of Tony Stewart's problem refiring his car, and have you had any issues with turning the engine off and refiring it when you're trying to save fuel?

KEVIN HARVICK:  I feel like we've done a good job preparing for a lot of these situations, not to say that something is not going to go wrong.  We went through fuel mileage, on-off switch.  We have a procedure that looks like a video game that the guys from ECR have come up with, from saving fuel to how to turn the engine on and off, if the engine won't refire, how to reset it.  So there's procedures that go with -- that guys at ECR have come up with on the McLaren system, and we've run across some of those problems but feel like we've fixed them, too.

Q.  I know there's always an issue when you practice on a cold track and then you race on a hot track, but with the new construction of this track and in the race yesterday, the guys decided not to put tires on because they were having a hard time with cold tires on the track, and I was wondering, how is it different for you racing yesterday and then racing today with the tires and the difference in temperature?

KEVIN HARVICK:  Well, we didn't end on four tires today, I can promise you that, after yesterday.  But our car was faster on two tires than it was on four tires.  Our weakness was still the restarts and getting grip, but we were better with restart grip on two tires than we were with four.  So the tracks -- whether it was cool or hot, it stayed pretty consistent, and for two races now I think it's put on pretty good shows.

Q.  You sounded so calm after the race was over on the radio.  Even though you finished second, it really seemed like a team-building situation for you and Shane and the guys.  You sounded like you really seemed to be on a quest to find the championship you've been looking for.

KEVIN HARVICK:  Well, this is obviously a group of guys that has been together for a while, and in the end, I have to help be that team leader to be able to keep the guys together, whether it's a good day or bad.  A lot of them may think it's a bad day, but obviously we all want to win, but in the end, finishing second and being in contention for race wins and having the speed in the car is really what you're looking for early in the year, and if you can knock out a couple wins, that's what you want to do.

It's definitely -- we have to build it one week at a time, and that confidence and that character that comes with winning or losing is part of it.

Q.  We had a race today where a group of guys led chunks of laps, you and then Kyle, the 48 and of course the 11 at the end.  What was behind all that?  Was there adjustments, car adjustments?  Did the track change?  What put different guys up front for such long stretches?

KEVIN HARVICK:  You know, I think some of it probably had to do with tire strategy, and when guys had to put four on they'd get shuffled back and when you put two on, you'd keep your track position up front.  You know, I think it was a group of cars that were probably the fastest cars all day and probably those are the ones that you're talking about.

Q.  Usually you've run toward the middle of the pack for most of the race and then you inch your way closer and then try to win at the end.  How did it feel today to have a dominant car for a majority of the day?  You were always up front.

KEVIN HARVICK:  Well, that's the way we'd like to do it.  We don't intentionally qualify in the middle of the pack, and I think qualifying helped us get our track position and keep our track position all day.  Shane called a good race, and we were able to keep ourselves up front.  I think a lot of that starts with qualifying.

  

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 2:36 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 2:43 pm
 

Drivers mixed on tweeting and devices in race

By Pete Pistone


Daytona
(Monday night's red flag at Daytona gave drivers a chance to releax and for some tweet - Getty)

Brad Keselowski’s
Twitter session during the red flag at last week’s Daytona 500 has sparked some interesting discussion throughout the NASCAR world. 

Some drivers think the interaction through social media is something that will greatly benefit the sport in terms of popularity. Others aren’t so sure that any kind of tweeting or social media initiatives during a race are over the line. 

Still others are concerned about the use of digital recording devices the smart phones being inside the cockpit of a racecar throwing off the competitive nature of the sport.

Let’s face it today’s cellphone can do so much more than simply calling home to check on the family or ordering a pizza for dinner. The mini-computers could easily find their way into mapping systems or other telemetry to give an enterprising crew chief or driver a high tech edge. 

Several drivers weighed in on the subject during their media availability on Friday at Phoenix International Raceway.


KEVIN HARVICK

“Well, to be honest with you I had no idea that was something that would even remotely come into play as far as keeping your phone in your car during a race. But I guess if you’re going to keep up with that side of it, you’re going to have to. I’m going to look for every app I can for mile-per-hour, GPS mapping, and anything I can find to put in my car. I’m looking for it because I’m looking to outlaw this rule as fast as I can because I don’t want to have to keep up with it.”

DENNY HAMLIN

No, not during a race situation. I mean, I don’t know. Where does it end? What do you do? Do you then text or Tweet during cautions and then you look up and run into the guy behind you. I don’t know. When does it -- you’ve got to have -- there's certain parameters that I guess we’ve got to all play in, but I don’t know if I'm thinking about winning the race, I’m not thinking about social media when I’m under that green flag or yellow flag or any of those conditions. So, I think it’s just different people see things important differently.”

MATT KENSETH

“I thought that was neat that it worked out where Brad was able to do that honestly. I haven’t gotten to see the whole telecast yet. I saw the last 40 laps this morning, or whatever it was after the fire. That is all that was on my recorder in the motor home. I didn’t see the rest of the race and all that went on. I know it was entertaining for the fans and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I never knew we could carry our phones in the car, not that I am going to start, especially when you aren’t supposed to have communication with other drivers and all that any more. I am not sure about all that and having that in the car, but I think that certainly during a red flag when you have two hours off I don’t think there is anything wrong with tweeting and filling some air time and doing all that. They had a lot of airtime to fill between Sunday pre-race and when we finally got the race over Tuesday morning. I thought it was neat.

JEFF GORDON

I think that the social media aspect of it I thought was great for the sport, great for Brad (Keselowski) and from that side of it; I think that it’s awesome that NASCAR is really being that lenient.  I think that the technology of phones these days is growing rapidly that there could be some things that NASCAR might need to pay attention to that might need to keep the phones out of the car.” 

 
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Posted on: January 25, 2012 8:46 pm
 

RCR No. 33 set for first five Cup races

By Pete Pistone

WELCOME, N.C. - Richard Childress Racing will run a fourth Sprint Cup entry in the first five races of the 2012 season beginning with Elliott Sadler behind the wheel of the No. 33 Chevy in the Daytona 500.

RCR announced its plans to run the fourth car in addition to the full-time three car driver lineup of Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard during Wednesday's visit to the team's headquarters as part of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour.

Sadler will pilot the car, which earned guaranteed spots in the opening five races of the year thanks to former RCR driver Clint Bowyer's Top 35 points finish a year ago, in the biggest race of the year at Daytona.

"To say it's a dream come true is not saying enough," said Sadler, who will run a full Nationwide Series program for the team. "When Richard (Childress) called me into his office and asked if I wasnted to drive in the Daytona 500 I wanted to hug him."

Brendan Gaughan, who will split time in RCR's Nationwide and Caping World Truck Series programs in 2012, will take over the No. 33 Sprint Cup ride for the next four races after Daytona.

"I can't thank Richard enough," said Gaughan. "Yeh, I'd say it's a dream come true to go through some of what I've dealt with in my racing career and wind up at a place like RCR."

Harvick also announced during the night's presentation that his wife Delana was fourteen weeks pregnant with the couple's first child.

Burton cracked after the announcement "Who's the father?"

Ah teammates.

 
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Posted on: January 9, 2012 3:01 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 4:10 pm
 

2011 Team Review/Preview: RCR

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Harvick scored four victories in 2011 but came up short again in his bid for a Sprint Cup championship)

Review

The 2011 season didn’t go exactly as Richard Childress Racing had hoped.

After Kevin Harvick came close to winning the 2010 Sprint Cup championship, RCR was poised to make a string run at the title in the following campaign.

But despite enjoying six overall trips to victory lane, the Childress camp came up short of its goals for the season.

Only Harvick made the Chase of the four RCR drivers and although he won four times he finished third in the point standings for a second straight campaign. 

We want to race for a championship,” Harvick said.  “With the performance we had through the year, it was a decent season.  But we need to make things better for next year as we move through the winter.” 

Harvick’s early season success helped solidify his reputation as “The Closer” as he won two races with dramatic late lap moves. 

He passed Jimmie Johnson on the last lap for the lead and the win at Auto Club Speedway in March and then capitalized on others running out of fuel on the final lap to win May’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

However despite winning for the fourth time in the regular season finale at Richmond to secure the second seed in the Chase, Harvick was not able to mount a charge for the championship and wound up 58 points behind eventual champ Tony Stewart. 

Harvick’s three other teammates failed to qualify for the playoffs but did have some success of their own during the course of the season. 


Paul Menard scored his first career Sprint Cup Series victory with a dramatic win in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The dramatic win ended a long quest by the Menard family to win at the famed track including father John’s days as an Indy Car team owner.

“1989 I think was my first year here,” Menard said after the win. “I spent 14, 15 years in a row just hanging out in the infield being a fan. In 2007, I got to race here. It was definitely the highlight of my career up until that point. Here we are in victory lane. It's unbelievable.”

Menard was in the hunt for a Chase wild card berth but missed the playoff race despite his best career Cup season that included a seventeenth place finish in the standings.

Clint Bowyer ended his tenure at RCR missing out on the Chase but was able to finish the year with a strong run behind the wheel of the No. 33 Chevrolet.

Bowyer picked up a checkered flag at October’s Talladega race narrowly edging out teammate Jeff Burton for the victory.

“He worked so well with me all day long,” Bowyer said of Burton. “You hate that it comes down to that. It is what it is. You owe it to your team, to your sponsors to go out and win the race.”

Bowyer ended up 13<sup>th</sup> in the final standings.

Burton struggled in the first half of the year until team owner Childress inserted Luke Lambert as interim crew chief to replace long-time RCR employee Todd Berrier.

He finished a disappointing 20<sup>th</sup> in the standings but a series of Top 10 runs to end the year has Burton feeling better about the future.

“The performance this year was not up to par but our string of Top 10 finishes toward the end of the season is a promising feeling going into next season," he said.
 

Preview

It will be a new-look RCR squad heading into 2012 starting with a contraction of race teams.

Childress will field a three-car stable for the new campaign with Bowyer departing for Michael Waltrip Racing and the No. 33 ride shut down due to the lack of sponsorship.

While disappointed he wasn’t able to find funding to keep the car on the track in a full-time capacity, Childress is still bullish on his team’s strength for the coming season.

"Right now we're looking at three Cup cars…," said Childress, who may field a fourth entry in a handful of races for grandson and truck champion Austin Dillon. "Who knows what may come up between now and then. I've had offers to race people and race drivers and had another full sponsorship with a driver.

"I just want to make sure it's the right move when we make it. So we're still as of right now, we're three Cup teams."

Harvick returns to the No. 29 Chevrolet but with a new crew chief after Gil Martin was replaced by Shane Wilson.

Harvick and Wilson have a long history of working together dating back to their Nationwide Series success which both feel will be beneficial to improving the performance of the Cup effort this season.

"Shane is a good friend of mine, and we had a lot of success together in the NASCAR Nationwide Series," Harvick said. "He has a lot of experience now in the Sprint Cup Series, and I look forward to working with him again."

Menard’s team returns intact with veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe calling the shots. Last year’s success and first win has the former Daytona 50 winner feeling good about what lies ahead in season number two with RCR’s No. 27 Chevy.

“Paul and I have worked together now for a number of years,” said Labbe of the time the duo spent at Richard Petty Motorsports before migrating to RCR. “Our relationship is solid and we understand one another better than ever which is a key. We have a solid race team behind us and know what we accomplished last season was only the beginning for this group.”

Finally Burton comes back in the Caterpillar No. 31 ride with yet another new crew chief in Drew Blickensderfer, who worked with David Ragan at Roush Fenway Racing last season.

The highly-touted crew chief and veteran driver Burton both believe they can continue the progress the team made at the tail-end of last season to have a much better 2012.

“We're putting ourselves in position to have fast enough race cars, and have the right group assembled,” Burton said of his team. “I feel like we're in that process as far as getting back to where we can be competitive, and putting ourselves in position to win races. It doesn't happen overnight. But yeah, I do feel like we're building that."
 

Outlook

Sizing down to three cars isn’t the worst thing for RCR, which will be able to concentrate its efforts in a more focused matter. But with two of the trio sporting new driver-crew chief combos, there may be some initial growing pains. Equipment-wise RCR is one of the sport’s powerhouses and its engine program was again stellar last season. Horsepower won’t be an issue again in 2012. Better consistency in the Chase for Harvick and whether Burton can bounce back while Menard continues to improve will be the main questions around RCR in the coming season.


CHECK OUT MORE POSTS FROM OUR 2011 TEAM REVIEW/2012 PREVIEW SERIES 

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @PPistone on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed 


 
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Posted on: December 16, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 11:12 am
 

2012 Sprint Cup Series crew chief changes

By Pete Pistone

Teams have been changing crew chiefs at a record pace and the line-up for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season already has a very different look to it.

You can keep up with this regularly-updated chart outlining changes as they are announced:

Joe Gibbs Racing – No. 20 Toyota (Joey Logano)

In: Jason Ratcliff gets the call to take over crew chief duties for Joey Logano who enters the 2012 season on the heels of a disappointing year. Ratcliff has had great success in the JGR Nationwide program and has helped guide both Logano and Kyle Busch to multiple victories. He now gets a shot at the Cup series as management promotes from within rather than go outside the organization.

Out: Greg Zipadelli was granted his release and now rejoins Tony Stewart this time as Director of Competition with Stewart-Haas Racing. Zippy was never able to get Logano to the next level of his career despite enjoying tremendous success while serving as Stewart’s crew chief during their time together at JGR. He still had one year left on his contract but rather than keep spinning its wheels, the team decided to allow Zipadelli to leave and give the 20 team a fresh start.

Our Take: Logano enters next season as a make or break year and it was clear he and Zipadelli weren’t on the same page. A new voice in Ratcliff from atop the war wagon can’t hurt but the duo will have their work cut out trying to rebound from a disastrous effort in 2011.


Joe Gibbs Racing – No. 11 Toyota (Denny Hamlin)

In: Darian Grubb didn’t waste any time in finding employment after he parted ways with Stewart-Haas Racing and Tony Stewart’s championship-winning No. 14 team. Rather than return to his roots at Hendrick Motorsports in an engineering role that was offered, Grubb will climb back up on the pit box to call the shots for Hamlin. 

Out: Mike Ford went from eight victories and a whisker of the Sprint Cup champion in 2010 to the unemployment line the following season. When the wheels came off Hamlin’s title run in the second to last race of the year in Phoenix, the No. 11 team was never quite the same and suffered through a miserable follow up campaign. 

Our Take: Grubb has the talent and in a very short crew chief career has scored wins with Jimmie Johnson, including a Daytona 500 victory, and taken a Sprint Cup championship with Stewart. Now he faces the challenge of trying to get Hamlin back to the force he was in 2010 while also dealing with the many issues that plagued JGR’s engine program last season. Grubb will be up for the test but will have his work cut out for him.


Stewart-Haas Racing – No. 14 Chevrolet (Tony Stewart)

In: Steve Addington punched his ticket out of Penske Racing days after the season ended to take the opportunity to work with Stewart on the championship-winning team. Addington has had a successful career despite dealing with the talented and emotional Busch brothers – Kyle, when he was at Joe Gibbs Racing and Kurt last season at Penske. Stewart is also known for his emotions but Addington is well-equipped to deal with it after his recent at-times tumultuous experiences with the Busch boys.

Out: Grubb couldn’t save his job even after helping Stewart win five races in the Chase and the title. The decision to go in a different direction was made well before Stewart eventually won the championship in Homestead and despite the success there was no turning back in the parting of ways. 

Our Take: Addington and Stewart have a relationship from both their days at Gibbs as well as their early short track careers. They’ve remained friends over the years and share a similar connection that should clock together as driver-crew chief pretty quickly. The tools and resources are there for Addington to pick right up where Grubb left off.


Penske Racing – No. 22 Dodge (A.J. Allmendinger)

In: Todd Gordon gets the call from Roger Penske to move over from the team’s successful Nationwide Series program, where he led the No. 22 Dodge to six wins a year ago, to the Sprint Cup effort. Like his counterpart at the Penske No. 2 entry Paul Wolfe, Gordon will get a chance to prove himself after working his way up through the organization. 

Out: Addington was admirable in the way he dealt with the turmoil around the team last year and Busch’s well-publicized emotional outbursts. Despite the controversy, Addington and Busch did win two races and make the Chase proving at times to be a formidable pairing.

Our Take: Gordon is a bright talent and will work well knowing the ins and outs of the “Penske Way.” Now that Allmendinger has been named driver the two can begin working on chemistry and their relationship. Both are young and will more than likely benefit from a fresh start and perspective. The duo take over a ride that won twice last year and made the Chase so expectations will be high and a good start to the season will go a long way in helping build confidence with the entire team.

 

Richard Childress Racing – No. 29 Chevrolet (Kevin Harvick)

In: Shane Wilson comes back to work with Harvick as the duo team up again in their careers. The two won the Nationwide Series together in 2006. Wilson most recently was Clint Bowyer’s crew chief at RCR and after moving into another role inside the team now gets another shot to work in NASCAR’s top division this time with Harvick. 

Out: Gil Martin was able to get Harvick to victory lane multiple times in the last two seasons and made the Chase, nearly winning all the marbles in 2010. But things soured internally with the team last season and Harvick voiced his concerns to team owner Childress who decided to pull the plug on Martin, who will stay with the organization but move into a management role for the time being. 

Our Take: Harvick can be prickly to work with and Martin may have found out the hard way. Wilson has the advantage of previously working with Harvick and tasting success in the Nationwide title run. Pit road miscues doomed the No. 29 team many times last year and that will need to be eradicated by Wilson in a hurry if Harvick is to return to championship contention.

 

Richard Childress Racing – No. 31 Chevrolet (Jeff Burton)

In: Drew Blickensderfer comes to RCR from Roush Fenway Racing, where he had spent his entire NASCAR career. Blickensderfer was a valuable commodity to Roush in both its Nationwide and Sprint Cup programs, most recently working as crew chief for Matt Kenseth and then David Ragan.

Out: Luke Lambert was the interim crew chief for Burton after Todd Berrier was released around mid-season. Lambert and Burton did begin to make significant progress down the stretch of the schedule with several top ten runs to their credit and a near victory at Talladega in October.

Our Take: Blickensderfer is a hot commodity and brings a great deal of enthusiasm to the job. He clicked very well with the relatively young Ragan at RFR, a partnership that resulted in a July Daytona win, but now teams up with the seasoned veteran presence of Burton. It’s an intriguing pair that might be one of the surprises in the coming campaign.

 

Michael Waltrip Racing – No. 15 Toyota (Clint Bowyer)

In: Brian Pattie got shuffled out of the crew chief role for Juan Pablo Montoya about mid-season in favor of Jim Pohlman. Pattie remained inside Earnhardt Ganassi Racing for the balance of the year but jumped at an opportunity to crew chief once again when Waltrip’s team expanded to three cars and brought Bowyer into the fold. 

Out: Pattie steps in to fill the crew chief position for the brand new No. 15 entry. 

Our Take: When Pattie methodically guided Montoya into the 2009 Chase with a carefully calculated regular season game plan he turned a lot of heads in the garage and many applauded his talent. Things didn’t go too well in the two follow-up efforts but Pattie is still regarded as a forward-thinking crew chief who has a chance to make an even bigger name for himself if he can get Bowyer into the Chase in year one.
 

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing – No. 42 Chevrolet (Juan Pablo Montoya)

In: Chris Heroy brings his engineering background to the crew chief position replacing the Brian Pattie/Jim Pohlman combo that split duties for the team last year. 

Out: Team owner Chip Ganassi made it pretty clear he wasn’t going to go into 2012 with the same lineup that was so disappointing last season so moving Pohlman out of the spot didn’t come as much of a surprise. 

Our Take: Heroy is an unknown commodity and steps into a difficult job of trying to right the ship. The entire EGR team including Montoya’s teammate Jamie McMurray endured a miserable season it will take a huge effort all the way around to get back to being competitive on a regular basis.

2012 DRIVER TRACKER

 
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Posted on: November 23, 2011 9:46 am
Edited on: November 23, 2011 11:16 am
 

Gil Martin out as Kevin Harvick's crew chief

By Pete Pistone

LISTEN TO MARTIN'S COMMENTS

Gil Martin
will not return to the crew chief role for Kevin Harvick's No. 29 team in the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season.

Martin broke the news when he visited with Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio's "The Morning Drive."

"As far as being the Crew Chief for the #29..we will see change there...as far as being with RCR, I am still with RCR," Martin said.

Richard Childress Racing announced Shane Wilson would replace Martin as crew chief.

"Kevin (Harvick) came to me after the Phoenix race a couple weeks ago and asked for a change in the leadership of his team for the 2012 season," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "The expectations at RCR are to win championships so the decision was made to move Shane Wilson to the No. 29 Budweiser/Rheem/Jimmy Johns program. Shane did a great job for RCR in the Nationwide Series when he first got here, and built on that success the past three seasons with our No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team, so we feel he will continue do a great job with the No. 29 team."

This is not the first time Wilson and Harvick have worked together. They joined forces in 2006 to earn 10 wins, 24 top-five and 31 top-10 finishes on the way to that season's NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. The team's 824-point margin of victory is a series record.

"Shane is a good friend of mine and we had a lot of success together in the NASCAR Nationwide Series," said Harvick. "He has a lot of experience now in the Sprint Cup Series and I look forward to working with him again.


 
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Posted on: November 17, 2011 2:09 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 2:09 pm
 

Video: Kevin Harvick on Inside NASCAR

Entering the final race of the Sprint Cup in the number three slot, Kevin Harvick stops by the set of Inside NASCAR to discuss one of the most important races of his career.



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Posted on: November 11, 2011 6:12 pm
 

Kevin Harvick recalls defining moment

By Pete Pistone

AVONDALE, Ariz. - Kevin Harvick can identify with the situation Kyle Busch finds himself in this week to a degree.

Like Busch, Harvick was parked for a Sprint Cup race in the aftermath of his actions in a Camping World Truck Series event at Martinsville Speedway in 2002.

The incident caused Harvick to reflect on his personal life as well as his career, a crossroads the Richard Childress Racing driver believes Busch has now come to in his life.

“When I went through that situation I had two people in the whole sport; obviously Richard (Childress) was one; but I had Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace," said Harvick. "Those were the only two guys who reached out and said you know, I’ve been there before and here’s what you need to do and you need to move on. But it’s a game-changer as far as how you look at the sport and how you feel about things. The bottom line is, when you’re in a competition and when things are competitive, you’re going to do things that you’ll look back on and you say, man that was pretty bad there. I shouldn’t have done that or I should have done this a different way.

"The one thing that we try to do is when we make a mistake or I make a mistake or somebody makes a mistake in the company, you try not to do it twice. You try to learn from that and you try to move on. And you hope as this situation moves forward you hope that you take something from it and learn something from it. This sport is a lot like life. You go from year to year and you learn and you hopefully learn from your mistakes and you get older and you mature as a person. So hopefully those go hand-in-hand as you move on in your career and things become more clear. So, it’s a tough sport. And the hardest part about this sport is not NASCAR, it’s not your sponsors, it’s really the part that governs it the hardest are the competitors because they look at it as a disrespect to the sport that they’ve been a part of building for a long time and that’s the hardest part is to come back and be able to look everybody in the eye and them believe that you actually respect the sport.” 

 
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