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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is it wise for Childress to keep an unhappy Harvick around for 2010?

Despite Kevin Harvick’s pleas to be let out of his contract, Richard Childress has laid down the law: Harvick will be back driving the #29 Shell/Pennzoil car next season, whether he likes it or not.

While I understand Childress’ position, that contracts must be honored by both drivers and sponsors, in the case of Harvick he might be wise to make an exception.

To use an analogy, forcing Harvick to stick around when he’s clearly frustrated at RCR is like forcing your child to eat all of his vegetables at the table. It’s a good idea, but the entire time he’s going to be looking at you with the evil eye. I foresee a situation where Harvick, whether he intends to or not, won't do as good a job as a driver who’s committed to the team for the longer term.

Camaraderie breeds success, just ask the #48 team, and that won't be there if the whole team knows Harvick is bolting at the end of 2010. I’m not suggesting Harvick won’t want to finish well each week, but it’s kind of like an expanded version of what Pat Tryson is dealing with at Penske Racing right now.

It’s like short-timer syndrome at work, when an employee slacks off after putting in their two weeks notice, but expanded to a whole year.

There are drivers out there who could fill the seat adequately, even if it was only for a year until a bigger name came available. Besides, it’s not like Harvick is burning up the track every weekend. He’s sitting 21st in points, just behind rookie Joey Logano.

There are already going to be some big changes in store at RCR, with the team's fourth car shutting down after one year due to sponsorship woes, and Casey Mears likely out of a job. Also, look for swapping in the areas of crew chiefs, crew members, etc., as the team tries to recapture its past glories in 2010.

Since we’re already taking about change, I say let Harvick go, too. Mentally, he’s already got one foot out of the door, and is thinking about a possible future ride at Stewart-Haas Racing for 2011. If let go, I’m sure he could find a place to run for one year while that deal was put together.

My first thought is that Childress would go along with Harvick’s request, but the sponsor wants Harvick back. In that case, his hands are tied and there’s nothing he can do.

But if he has any choice, he would be wise to cut Harvick loose and give another driver who is more committed to the team a shot in the #29 car.

There’s an outside shot Harvick will resurge in 2010, but more likely it will be just another year of mediocrity if he is not allowed out of the contract.

So what's the point in hanging on to him?


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