CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jan. 29, 2012) Of all the news announced during the four days and nights of last week’s Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, arguably the biggest blockbuster was that Kevin and DeLana Harvick are expecting their first child in July.
Kevin announced that DeLana was 14 weeks pregnant during Wednesday night’s visit to Richard Childress Racing, and it suddenly made sense why the couple sold their Kevin Harvick Inc. NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series teams to RCR last year.
DeLana Harvick is one of, if not the, most visible wives on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, famously known as the one who wears the firesuit in the family. And while the Harvicks understandably are thrilled about the prospect of becoming first-time parents, now that the 2012 NASCAR season looms, Kevin’s mission is the same as ever: Win the Sprint Cup championship.
After finishing third in points in each of the last two seasons, 2012 might be Harvick’s best chance to finally nail down the elusive Cup title to go with his two NASCAR Nationwide Series championships.
Without question, RCR will be a very different team this season. Gone is former Competition Director Scott Miller, who has moved to Michael Waltrip Racing along with driver Clint Bowyer. At the moment, RCR will have full-time cars for Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard, and a fourth car that is committed for five races — Elliott Sadler at Daytona, Brendan Gaughan for the next four — maybe more, if sponsorship materializes.
Harvick also will have a new crew chief in Shane Wilson, who led his Nationwide team to a title in 2006, when Harvick won by a record margin of 864 points.
One of the key advantages for Harvick and the rest of the RCR squad is that the team is on solid financial ground, with many of their key sponsors committed to the team on a long-term basis.
“When you have fully funded cars this early — and a lot of them are for multiple years — you can plan things a lot further ahead on R&D projects,” said Harvick. “You always have to worry about how much money you’re going to spend, but you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to do tomorrow to fund the project that you want to do today.”
Harvick also said the selling KHI should help him in 2012.
“We’ve gone through some pretty major changes from the KHI standpoint of not being there anymore,” said Harvick. “Trying to get me more focused, being at the shop more, being more focused on the Cup car instead of having to worry about all the little nuances that come with owning a race team and worrying about sponsorship. From that side of it, I’ve tried to better myself.”
Harvick and Wilson have a great relationship with each other, something else that should translate positively on the race track.
“A lot of people say, ‘Man you must be nervous,’ or this and that,” said Wilson, who last year was Bowyer’s crew chief. “Well, I’m more comfortable than I ever have been. Yeah, there’s pressure, but I have a lot of confidence in him and vice versa, and that makes it easier to go about my business.”
Wilson knows the bar is set high.
“I know we have high expectations,” he said. “A lot of people expect a lot out of us, but also that’s what motivates us. We’re very excited and are going to try to seize the opportunity.”
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100
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