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2006 Driver Review: Kevin Harvick

Kevin “Happy” Harvick
2006 Ride: No. 29 GM Goodwrench/Reese’s Chevrolet
2006 Owner: Richard Childress
2006 Crew Chief: Todd Berrier
Stats: 36 races, five wins, 15 top fives, 20 top 10s, one pole, fourth in points.

High Point: After an extended period of struggles, Harvick had what resulted in a breakout year with his Richard Childress Racing team. Coming into 2006, Harvick had compiled five career victories; he doubled that total in 2006 with wins at Phoenix, Watkins Glen, Richmond, Loudon, and again at Phoenix. Harvick made the Chase for the Championship for the first time and was in contention until the final race of the season, reaching a high point in September by winning the race at Loudon to briefly take over the point lead during the Chase. Perhaps the biggest high point, though, was Harvick not only running the full Busch Series schedule, but winning the Busch Series championship by the largest winning margin in the 25-year history of the series, 824 points over second-place Carl Edwards.

Low Point: Harvick waited until the fall race at Dover, the second race of the Chase, to suffer his only DNF this season. Unfortunately, that engine failure occurred during the Chase and put the team in a hole they could never completely dig out of. Five weeks later, a 31st-place finish at Atlanta sealed Harvick’s fate and kept him from being a serious contender for the title he covets.

Summary: Harvick joined with fellow teammate Jeff Burton to lead the ultimate resurgence of RCR in 2006. After missing the Chase for the first two years of its existence, Harvick stormed into the playoffs, winning the final race leading up to the Chase at Richmond. After continuing that win streak with a victory at Loudon, Harvick took over the points lead and looked poised to make a run at the championship. It wasn’t to be, as two bad races and two other mediocre runs in the Chase prevented Harvick from taking home the big silver checkered flags.

Still, things appear to be looking up for Harvick; entering the season in the final year of his contract, the veteran was wooed by Toyota but ultimately signed up once again with RCR, assuring all he’ll be driving the No. 29 Chverolet for several more years to come.

2007 Outlook: Harvick had a strong run all season for resurgent RCR and should continue an upward climb in 2007. The entire Childress organization made great strides and looks poised to be a force in the sport for years to come. Harvick’s focus and determination are sharper than they have ever been, and 2007 looks to be a year where the No. 29 will make another serious run at the championship.

Grade: A-

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