I am sure race fans know by now that this is the last year that Kevin Harvick will be driving for Richard Childress Racing.
They came out so strong at Daytona International Speedway for the season-opener and had their superspeedway program working so well. Unfortunately, following Daytona they really haven’t been the weekly factor that we had anticipated.
In Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway, they had moments where that No. 29 was good, but it was never great. It may be simply a case like with Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, where Kevin and his crowd are still just off a little bit on this new downforce component that the new Gen-6 car is offering. That might be what is keeping Kevin from being totally comfortable and as fast as he needs to be.
Now when you look at Kevin’s teammate Paul Menard, he and his team seem to have a combination that is working pretty well. Even though Paul didn’t have the kind of Martinsville he wanted, he’s still in the top 10 in points and has three top-10 finishes in our first six races.
Martinsville wasn’t that bad for Kevin. Martinsville is a grinder anyway. He finished 13th but was caught up in traffic and some other problems he ran into during the course of the day. That’s just a byproduct of racing at Martinsville.
So for Kevin, I think the key is getting him comfortable on some of these faster racetracks.
Again, it’s not that they are that bad, it’s just they aren’t where we’d anticipated they would be once we saw how strong they were at Daytona. Plus Kevin was so vocal about how they were going to run well this year, run strong and not be a lame-duck team.
I see this weekend at Texas to be a good measuring stick of where their program is overall. Did they use the off weekend to come up with something to make him a little more comfortable when it comes to these faster racetracks?
I know we all expect more from Kevin because he is one of the best drivers on the circuit, but maybe this team is a lot closer to being competitive than we give it credit for.