by Larry McReynolds
FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster.
Updated: May 5, 2009, 12:05 PM EST
In case you all missed it, team owner Richard Childress announced before Talladega that he was swapping the crews on the No. 07 and 29 teams beginning at Richmond.
Well, so far, so good.
Kevin Harvick, with his new crew chief Gil Martin and group, ran well all weekend at Richmond. It’s just that they had a problem Saturday night, but his 34th-place finish is not indicative of the way they ran.
Teammate Casey Mears, who got Kevin’s old crew chief and crew, well he got his first top 10 finish of the year. What was impressive was they struggled at the beginning of the race, but they kept working on it, Mears was giving good feedback and then they pulled off a top 10.
Naturally, Richard Childress is smart enough to know that you can’t look like a genius after one race and you need to give it more time to see if it’s going to work long term. But you have to say at least initially it’s working because that is probably one of the best runs Harvick has had in a while.
The other Childress team, with Clint Bowyer, got back on track this weekend as well. That No. 33 team has been in a bit of a slump over the last three races, but they improved at Richmond. Lastly, the fourth RCR team with Jeff Burton behind the wheel, had a pretty good run last Saturday as well en route to a third-place finish. In fact, Jeff has had two pretty good runs in a row.
Like I mentioned earlier, one race won’t prove whether the decision to swap crews around was successful or not, but so far, so good. Of course, to those of you who have followed the sport over the last few years, it shouldn’t be surprising that Childress shook things up ... and I know that from personal experience.
Back in 1998 when Richard swapped me and Kevin Hamlin around, I was determined to make my new No. 31 team better or bust a gut trying. It lights a fire under you. You want to show your owner that you can do it.
I still think we will wait until we get to those stretch of races in June to say whether or not it was a successful swap. They’ve got some of their favorite tracks coming up so hopefully they have their act together for everyone’s sake.
I have to believe that Casey Mears is feeling the pressure. He ran at Chip Ganassi Racing for a few years without a whole lot of success. He ran a couple years with Hendrick Motorsports and didn’t have a lot of success other than a win at Charlotte. So he has to be looking over his shoulder at Mark Martin doing so well in Casey’s old car and feeling like he better step his performance up. Nobody knows better than Casey that this year and next year are pivotal years in his career.