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2007 Team Preview: RCR

2007 Team Preview: RCR

2007 Team Preview: RCR
Pete Pistone
Managing Editor

There may not have been a bigger turnaround in 2006 bigger than what took place at Richard Childress Racing.

RCR driver Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton raced their way into the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup," while rookie Clint Bowyer turned in an impressive freshman performance to give car owner Richard Childress a stellar season.

"Last year was a great year for us here at RCR, and we're going to set the bar even higher this season," Childress said. "We've grown a lot here over the years and that's due to a lot of hard work by a lot of great people. There's a lot of history here and a lot of wins as well as championship that we're really proud of."

Harvick, who signed an extension to stay with RCR early in the year, enjoyed one a career season in 2006. In addition to his Busch Series title, Harvick scored five NEXTEL Cup wins and finished fourth in the final standings.

“We had a plan last year, and we kept to it,” Harvick said. “And we’ve got a plan this year. You have to get off to a good start the first five weeks, and if you don’t, then you’ve got to make adjustments and get them going good the next five weeks."

Harvick's goal to start the year off on a positive note will come in different colors this year, with long-time RCR partner GM Goodwrench stepping down as the No. 29's full-time sponsor with Shell taking its place.

"The new sponsor, Shell-Pennzoil, for me is good," Harvick said. "It kind of gets you out from underneath that shadow of everything that we had with Dale. It’s hard for me to beat down somebody else’s path when you’re used to beating your own path.

"Not that Goodwrench wasn’t, but it’s just so much in the past that everything had to do with."

Burton's run in the team's No. 31 Chevrolet was one of the best comeback stories in NASCAR history. The veteran rejuvenated his career and the team with a stellar season and a run at the title.

That success has Burton excited about the 2007 season.

"We are mature enough to win a championship, we are together enough to win a championship, and focused enough," he said. "We've got the right people in place."

One cloud hanging over the No. 31 team is the status of sponsor Cingular, the brand that will soon disappear after the company was purchased by AT&T. With NEXTEL as title sponsor of the series, a new cellular phone company is not allowed to enter the sport.

"I can't tell you a whole lot, to be honest," Burton said. "I can tell you that Cingular is extremely excited about its involvement with AT&T. And they're excited about being involved in this sport. They're going to do everything in their power to continue.

"It's an interesting situation - and time will tell what happens."

Bowyer's rookie season saw the Kansas native score 11 top ten finishes on his way to finishing 17th in the final standings. Some solid runs have Bowyer enthusiastic about his chances in his sophomore season.

"We're pretty excited after the year this team put together a year ago," Bowyer said. "With teammates like Kevin and Jeff and the resources we have at RCR, who wouldn't be pumped up about our chances this coming year?"

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Re: 2007 Team Preview: RCR

Harvick Faces Different Challenge
RacingOne Report

Although he won’t be defending his NASCAR Busch Series driver championship this season, Kevin Harvick still has titles to chase on the ownership side.

The two-time series champion went through the paces at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Monday during the first of two days of Preseason Thunder testing at the 1.5-mile track.

Harvick will run a partial schedule in the No. 21 AutoZone Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, sharing time with rookie Timothy Peters. The duo should contend for the series owner championship; Childress has captured three crowns, each with Harvick as a key contributor.

And as co-owner of Kevin Harvick Inc. with his wife DeLana, he could actually race against himself for the right to the owner championship.

He’ll drive a few races in his No. 33 Chevrolet and will split time in the No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet with Bobby Labonte, the 1991 series champion and Kertus Davis, a young series veteran who had raced for his family-owned team since 2001.

Although he’s an experienced driver, the ownership side provides plenty of challenges for the 31-year-old Bakersfield, Calif., native.

"I enjoy it," he said of being an owner. "It brings a whole different perspective to what you do and how I relate to Richard (Childress) and to NASCAR (as a driver).

"Going into the year, we expect both teams to run well and get into the top-10 in points."

Davis has gained respect in the garage; many drivers believe an opportunity such as the one presented by Harvick and KHI will allow his talent to shine.

"Kertus (has) a really good attitude," Harvick said. "He brings a lot of experience (to the team). He just needs a chance in good stuff. It's always fun when you can give a guy an opportunity like someone gave me."

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