Childress Celebrates 2007 Daytona win...but wants to win championships with someone other than Kevin Harvick
Team owner Richard Childress has never shied away from shaking things up when he deemed changes necessary to make his organization better. It appears that more changes are on the way. Childress, speaking on Saturday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, addressed the struggles of Richard Childress Racing and the possible departure of Kevin Harvick when the driver’s contract expires at the end of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Harvick, along with RCR’s other three Cup drivers, failed to make NASCAR’s Chase For The Sprint Cup this season and Harvick is mired in the midst of the longest winless streak of his career. RCR, which expanded to four teams this season, placed all three of its cars in the Chase in 2007 and 2008 but none this season. The organization is also still searching for its first Cup victory of 2009. “All I’ve got to say is we are making a lot of changes,” said Childress, who won the last of his six Cup championships with the late Dale Earnhardt in 1994.
“We’ll probably be announcing more changes next week coming. We’re using these last races to get prepared for 2010. We know we have to be better. We’ve seen some improvements. I think if you look, we’ve been up front with the different [RCR] cars in the last few weeks. This [new] car is very touchy and right now Hendrick [Motorsports] is right up on top of it. They’ve got it figured out for the most part.” Harvick indicated in a television interview prior to last Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway that he doesn’t plan to re-sign with the organization he’s driven for in Cup since taking over for Earnhardt the week after the seven-time champion’s death on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Teammate Jeff Burton also acknowledged on Thursday that Harvick appears to be looking to move on after 2010. While promising that changes are coming, Childress stopped short of saying that Harvick – the 2007 Daytona 500 champion and an 11-time Cup winner - won’t return in 2011. “Kevin’s going to be with us next year and [sponsor] Shell’s going to be with us,” Childress said. “We’ll just see how everything plays out in the future. I didn’t see his interview [at California]. I’ve heard some comments on it but whatever happens, happens. We just move forward.” Moving forward may not be an option with No. 07 entry of RCR’s Casey Mears without sponsorship for 2010. The departure of Jack Daniel’s, which has revealed its intentions to leave the company at the end of the season, leaves Mears without a sponsor. Without sponsorship in place by the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the No. 07 team will likely go away next season. “Right now we’re meeting with companies. We’ve had several meetings,” Childress said. “As you know, the economic times are tough right now for sponsorship. We’ve got interest in it. We’re wanting to run it. We can’t turn it into a park and start. I don’t want to do that. “We’ve got some sponsorship for a few races next year but to be competitive that isn’t the way to do it, so we’re kind of weighing our options to see what we’re going to do.” Childress seemed pleased with the progress of Mears, who joined the organization this season. Despite being 19th in the standings, Mears has notched three top-15s in his last four starts. “He’s run up front in the top 10 and we’ve had some good runs with him,” Childress said. “I would liked to have seen him in our cars a year ago when we had our cars really going. We don’t know what happened yet. All of a sudden we fell off the wagon. We’ll get back on it, though, I promise you.” Childress, of course, has a history of adjusting personnel in an effort to get better. He swapped the crew chiefs on Earnhardt and teammate Mike Skinner in the middle of the 1998 season and did the same earlier this year with the crew chiefs on the Cup teams of Harvick and Mears as well as the company’s No. 29 and No. 2 Nationwide teams. Childress also implemented changes to the organization’s competition department, with the most notable one being the promotion of current Burton crew chief Scott Miller to director of competition next season. Burton said on Thursday he expects an announcement regarding his 2010 crew chief to come in the near future. And apparently that’s not all that’s in the pipeline at RCR. “We’re working hard,” Childress said. “We’re doing a lot of capital investments moving into next year on some new stuff. We’re making changes in our personnel, we’re going to be making more changes in the next weeks to come.” Childress is optimistic that the company will rebound, noting tough years in 1985 and 1992 that were both followed by back-to-back championships with Earnhardt. “That’s your peaks and valleys and you have it in life as well,” he said. “We can see the crest up there. We’ve just got to be ready for it.” SceneDaily.com (also see related AR1 Rumor)
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