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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2007 Driver Review: Kevin Harvick

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, one win, four top fives, 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 4 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 bonus.

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 five week in, week out, Harvick was left doing little more than eating their dust; he had a best finish of sixth and only four top 10s during the 10-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 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 AJ Allmendinger to JJ Yeley.