By admin | August 27, 2011
By Richard Allen
*Note: The following piece includes somewhat unsavory language used during in-race communications over team radios. The words have been somewhat censored but the words in question are still quite obvious.
What do the numbers 15, 22, 26 and 30 have in common? If you guessed those were the finishing positions of the Richard Childress Racing stable of cars then you are correct. Jeff Burton was 15th, Kevin Harvick was 22nd, Clint Bowyer was 26th and Paul Menard was 30th in the Irwin Tools Night Race on Saturday at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
To say the least, this highly regarded and heavily sponsored organization cannot be proud of its efforts on the high banked half-mile at which they have a history of noteworthy success.
In reality, this was not a one night event. Although RCR drivers have combined for four victories in 2011, the team’s most recent past has been less than stellar. “We haven’t run good in four f-ing months,” frustrated RCR driver Kevin Harvick said over his in-car radio during the race in Bristol.
According to Harvick, the poor runs have gone on for too long and there has been little done to improve the situation. “I’ll tell you what, we’ve got to get it figured out,” Harvick insisted at another point during Saturday‘s race. “We keep doing the same sh*t every week.”
Even with the four wins, however, such a drop off in performance might have been predicted earlier in the season had close attention been paid to the statistics. All four of their drivers have combined to lead only 506 laps out of over 25,000 completed this season. Further, in Harvick’s three wins posted in 2001, he only led a combined total of nine laps. In Menard’s Indianapolis fuel mileage stretch win he led but 21 circuits.
Those statistics indicate that ‘smoke and mirrors’ might have been more of a factor in RCR’s success than dominate race cars.
Whatever the case, this string of poor performances could not have come at a worse time. With the Chase for the Championship looming just two weeks away, this is the part of the season in which teams want to be hitting their stride rather than scrambling for answers. And more, while Harvick will be a Chase participant, Bowyer, Menard and Burton are desperately fighting for their championship lives.
Last week in Michigan Harvick scolded his crew with this foreboding remark, “We better get our sh*t together over the next two weeks,” he insisted. “We’re not fast enough and we’re bad on pit road. We’re in deep sh*t.”
It certainly does not appear as though week one of that two week span went to plan.
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