If you believed everything you read, about this time last week, you were pretty much ready to toss Richard Childress Racing straight into the crapper.
That is, despite finishes of second, fourth, and 15th (Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, and Casey Mears, respectively) at Daytona, RCR’s poor showing at California proved that something was amiss.
As near as I can figure it, the collective rationale (ably represented by this story) went like this: Sure, RCR had good finishes in the 500 — but that’s restrictor-plate racing. Hell, even Harvick’s Shootout win shows just how random plate racing is. The fact is the organization struggled throughout SpeedWeeks. And Jeff Burton? He finished 28th and was never a factor.
California, then, merely conformed to the narrative. Finishes of 19th, 24th, 32nd, and 38th (Mears, Bowyer, Burton, and Harvick, in that order) gave writers the necessary cover to start writing off RCR. Most alarming, the alarmists said, was RCR’s standing in the overall: Fine, Bowyer was sixth and Harvick was 16th, but Mears and Burton? They stood 20th and 31st. Surely, an outfit that had its drivers finish the 2008 season fourth, fifth, and sixth expected bigger and better in 2009.
Yeah, about all that gloom and doom.
Wrong. Anybody checked out how they did at Vegas? Yup, that’s right. RCR did just fine. Try second (Bowyer), third (Burton), 12th (Harvick), and 30th (Mears, who lost three laps early when a right-rear tire went flat). More to the point, Bowyer is second overall, Harvick is 11th, and Burton jumped to 18th (Mears fell to 27th).
The long and the short of it? Maybe we can wait another, oh, 13, 14 races before we start tossing people overboard?