The Frontstretch: Driver Review : Kevin Harvick by Mike Neff -- Thursday December 13, 2007

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Driver Review : Kevin Harvick

Mike Neff · Thursday December 13, 2007

 

Kevin Harvick
2007 Ride - No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
2007 Primary Sponsor – Shell / Pennzoil
2007 Owner - Richard Childress *2007 Crew Chief * – Todd Berrier

Stats: 36 Races, 1 Win, 4 Top 5s, 15 Top 10s, 10th in points.

High Point: Harvick started out the season in spectacular fashion, capturing the Daytona 500 by passing Mark Martin once they exited turn four on the last lap. The win completed a weekend sweep - Harvick had won the 300-mile Busch Series event the day before – and created an obvious boatload of momentum for the No. 29 team. Surprisingly, that ship never sailed; Harvick never entered Victory Lane again in a points-paying race the rest of the year. The closest he came to that Florida high was in May, when Harvick came out on top in the Nextel All-Star Challenge to win a cool $1 million dollar bonus.

Kevin Harvick had a lot to ponder in 2007; the early momentum of a Daytona 500 win was drowned out by a season filled with inconsistency.

Low Point: The second half of the season. In late July, there was a critical turning point for Harvick; he was leading late during the Brickyard 400, but suddenly faded after contact with Tony Stewart roughed up his car. While Stewart went on to win, Harvick entered a tailspin; he averaged a 17th place finish in the next five races, and got involved in an infamous confrontation with Juan Pablo Montoya at Watkins Glen. That left the Shell/Pennzoil team reeling, and they never seemed to bounce back; While the true title contenders finished in the Top 5 week in, week out, Harvick was left doing little more than eating their dust; he had a best finish of 6th and only four Top 10s during the ten-race playoff.

Summary: Harvick and his RCR crew started off the year with a bang, but finished with a fizzle. While he had some strong runs during the season, there were several occasions where the car failed to make it home to the end with the kind of finish that he deserved. Blown tires, handling issues, pit road miscues, and other missteps resulted in a season of what might have been for a man labeled a title contender back in February. Perhaps it's the curse of the Daytona 500 trophy; since 2001, only two of seven winners have finished higher than 10th in the standings.

2008 Outlook: Despite a difficult season for Harvick, Richard Childress Racing once again showed they are moving back towards the pinnacle of the sport by putting all three of their cars in the Chase. While both his teammates ended up higher in the end-of-year standings, in theory the No. 29 car is still the top dog at RCR - and as such, Harvick will be the first to benefit from any team improvements. If the Childress/DEI engine program can continue making their engines more reliable, Harvick should once again be in position to contend for the championship.

2006 Frontstretch.com Grade: A-.
2007 Grade: B.

Editor's Note : The 2007 season is over, and even the Final Chase exam has come to a close - which means it's time to give each driver their annual year-end evaluation. For the second straight year, your favorite Frontstretch staff members are giving driver reviews for every full-time wheelman on the circuit, giving you insight into the seasons of anyone from A.J. Allmendinger to J.J. Yeley. Want to know when your favorite driver's getting featured? Check out this link for our writing schedule, and be sure to keep coming in every weekday this offseason for even more original content by the Frontstretch!

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29er
12/13/2007 02:15 AM
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There’s no grade you can put on tenacity. Someone in NASCAR had better recognize the ambitious drive of this force in racing .Take a look at the newest power couple in racing today. The resume speaks for itself. We are witnessing greatness when KHI is in the area!

Chris
12/15/2007 12:44 AM
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The 1.5 mile tracks for Kevin are a cause for concern. Short track, Superspeedway, Road Course and he is fine.

There is no consistency on the cookie cutter tracks. If Berrier ever figures those out, Kevin could truly contend for a Championship.