Richard Childress Racing
February 3, 2012
Harvick Hopes To Take Last Step
Shane Wilson and Kevin Harvick formerly worked together in the Nationwide Series when Harvick won the championship there in 2006. They will start the season from a firm base of knowledge of how the other works and thinks.
In four of the past six NASCAR seasons, Kevin Harvick has finished either third or fourth in the Sprint Cup standings.
This means making the Chase and doing well in it but then falling just short of the ultimate goal. The result is that Harvick starts his 12th Sprint Cup season this year with the most important line – Sprint Cup champion – still missing on his resume.
It’s a vacancy he seems determined to fill.
In the off-season, team owner Richard Childress moved Gil Martin from Harvick’s crew chief to a new assignment and put Shane Wilson in charge of the No. 29 team. Wilson and Harvick formerly worked together in the Nationwide Series when Harvick won the championship there in 2006. They will start the season from a firm base of knowledge of how the other works and thinks.
“I have a lot of respect for Kevin, so it’s a little easier for me,” said Wilson, who was Clint Bowyer’s crew chief last season. “I know his record, and I know his consistency. I always feel with him that you can go to every track and win. There are not a lot of guys in the Cup series who can do that – Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart. Only a few have proved they can do it.
“Kevin has won a lot of big races at a lot of different-style tracks.”
Harvick has been third in points the past two seasons and obviously needs a strong approach in the Chase to make the final steps to the top. Wilson will try to accompany Harvick there with basically the same team that raced with Bowyer last season.
“For me, it’s going to be about having my guys ready at the end of the year,” Wilson said. “I try to stay on the edge of technology and do what needs to be done to win these races. This sport is always changing, and I like to think I’m one of the ones on the edge of that and keeping up.”
Even for the best of teams, however, the long grind of the season sometimes removes some of the fire just as the most important part of the schedule – the Chase – arrives.
“It’s all about being ready then,” Wilson said. “I have a lot of confidence in the group I have. That’s established. They’re jazzed up.
“NASCAR is such a grind sometimes. With Clint, there were times we were so close to achieving our goals, and something didn’t work out. Now to have a second chance with that group is kind of rejuvenating. I think you’ll see a little more energy, and I think that will carry through the season. We’ll be fresh and motivated.
“At the end of the season, it’s really about getting into the Chase and then getting yourself geared up for the Chase and trying to use your resources correctly. You have to get on a good roll. That’s really how Tony did it. Jimmie has done that in the past where he really wasn’t the dominant car all summer but poured it on at the end of the year.”
It’s what Harvick will be looking for this season.