Harvick finally has something to be ‘Happy’ about after nearly sweeping weekend
He has earned several victories as an owner and driver in Nationwide and Trucks, but his Cup effort has been a different story. Heading into the Atlanta race, he was 24th in points and had led a total of 9 laps the entire season. He had only accumulated three top-10s all year.
All season there have been grumblings that Harvick wants to leave RCR, but Childress has said many times that Harvick will be back in 2010.
I’m guessing Harvick finally realized there was nothing he could do to change his situation, and finally put all the stress aside and just went out and raced. Atlanta has been a solid track for Harvick, who got his first career Cup win there in 2001 in an amazing finish, and he was long overdue for a good run.
For a while, it looked like he was gong to win the Cup race Sunday night, something I never would have predicted a month ago. Not only has this been a rough year, but he hasn’t won a race since the 2007 Daytona 500 thriller over Martin (which many people still say was won by Martin).
Though he ended up losing to Kasey Kahne in what was a thoroughly entertaining race, solid runs like this are what Harvick and RCR need to tune up for a better 2010.
The reality isn’t pretty: No RCR cars in the Chase in a year that the team expanded to four cars and looked to improve on last year’s solid performance. But that just means the narrative is different for the RCR teams.
Harvick and his cohorts shouldn’t be hanging their heads and hoping the season ends quickly. Instead, they can look to what Harvick did at Atlanta and do whatever is necessary to repeat that kind of performance as the year comes to an end. Unlike the other teams that are in the Chase, they have nothing to lose. More risks can be taken, both in the car setup and on raceday.
I was glad to see Harvick back to the form that made Childress decide to put him in the cars once driven by Dale Earnhardt. It was nice to see ‘Happy’ Harvick actually happy this weekend for the first time in a while.
Good runs for Labonte, Gilliland
Two drivers who had interesting weeks managed to pull out solid finishes. Bobby Labonte, booted from the #96 car for seven races due to sponsor demands, managed a top-20 in the #71 TRG car, which had a sponsor this week. Also accomplishing that top-20 mark was David Gilliland, who was booted from the TRG car to make room for Labonte. He drove the #21 car due to an injury of Bill Elliott, and will drive races for Joe Gibbs, Robby Gordon (and perhaps others) before the year is over. In this time of silly season (and injury season, apparently), Gilliland appears to be in high demand.
Points situation very tight
Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers are still on the outside looking in as far as the Chase goes, but they are at the gate with one race to go next week at Richmond. The numbers are amazing: 5th place Carl Edwards is only 122 points ahead of 14th place Kyle Busch. That’s 10 drivers, all within 122 points of each other, fighting for 8 spots.
My prediction: Busch will race his way into the Chase, while Matt Kenseth or Greg Biffle will give up their position next week. Kenseth is lucky to still be in the Chase. After early trouble, he fought back to a solid finish and saved what could have been a disastrous day.