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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing have a lot to live up to in 2011

Heading into 2010, Kevin Harvick and the entire Richard Childress team were in a situation where the only way to go was up.

They had fallen on hard times in 2009, operating four teams and having none of them make the Chase. In perhaps the biggest comeback story of the 2010 season (Jamie McMurray being the other contender) a slimmed-down RCR squad made the Chase with all three teams in 2010, and very easily could have won the title with Harvick, who missed out by 41 points when the final checkered flag fell at Homestead.

RCR is a team with a history of winning, most notably with Dale Earnhardt Sr., who won 6 of his 7 titles driving for his buddy Childress. And with Harvick leading the points for most of the year, and threatening for the title, the pressure is now on to make sure RCR doesn’t return to hard times.

Adding to the pressure is the return of a fourth team. Last time, when the fourth team with Casey Mears was added, it didn’t work out for RCR; but they insist the arrival of Paul Menard as a fourth driver won’t cause a return to those struggles.

The team showed in 2010 that it can win; Harvick has his excellent year; Clint Bowyer won races; and Jeff Burton should have won several races, but was often snake-bit at the end of the day.

When the new season arrives, coming off the 2010 high, the most logical direction the team could go is down, and in this ultracompetitive sport it will take all the team’s efforts to maintain RCR as a title contender and one of the top teams in the sport.

Of all the RCR drivers, Harvick has been the one most often with a bit of a “no respect” mantra, claiming the media doesn’t recognize RCR as a true title contender.

If he wants the media to begin singing the praises of RCR, he and his teammates just need to do some basic things in 2011; win races and contend for the title like they did in 2010.

That shouldn’t be too hard, right?

Dale Jr. “meltdown” car on eBay

If you’re a big Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan and want a piece of his racing history for your very own, the ALMS car he was driving in that caught on fire a few years back is up for sale on eBay … for just under $600,000.

The ad reads: “The car returned to the united states and was the Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Boris Said car, which was then painted yellow with a black side stripes and numbered 8. This is the same car Dale Jr wrecked at Infineon Raceway in 2004 and burst into flames, slightly injuring Dale Jr. This car is often referred to as the "meltdown car". The car was fully rebuilt and restored by Pratt & Miller and is new and race ready.”

I guess there’s nothing like a potentially deadly incident involving NASCAR’s most popular driver to help a car gain value.

For all the details, check out

Hope for Johnson’s competitors?
So Jimmie Johnson won the title again, but the numbers show he was not invincible.

In the 2010 Chase, Jimmie Johnson has the lower numbers in many categories when compared to his other title years. His Driver Rating of 108.5 was the lowest of the five.. He led fewer laps, 232, in 2010 than he did the previous four years.

What this means is that should someone step up and not make mistakes (Denny Hamlin not running into Greg Biffle at Homestead, for example), another person could be crowned champion. It very easily could have happened in 2010, too, but the experience of the #48 team in these title situations led them to the promised land once again. Hopefully for the fans, some other teams step up to that level in 2011 -- Like Hamlin and Harvick did in 2010 -- and there will be some intense competition for the Cup title once again. Who knows, Jimmie might even lose of these things eventually?

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