|Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on June 29, 2012 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR/AFP)
TORONTO - When the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season got underway in February with the Daytona 500, Kevin Harvick was a pick to win his first championship in stock car racing’s top loop.
Things haven’t exactly gone his way however.
Going into Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway Harvick finds himself lodged in sixth place on the Sprint Cup leader board, a whopping 64 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.
And the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet team has yet to visit Victory Lane this season.
While Harvick isn’t in any danger — yet — of falling out of the Chase for the Championship that starts in just 10 races, he is concerned enough that he issued a warning to his team that jobs were on the line unless better results start coming his way.
In Kentucky, Harvick explained his position.
“I told (the team) that everybody needed to step up and do exactly what they need to do and I was tired of sitting in the seat and making up for mistakes,” Harvick said. “We have made a ton of mistakes this year. I said we were all going to lose our jobs if we all kept losing. I never pointed out anybody and said that I was going to fire them. I said we were all going to lose our jobs.”
Harvick said it was mistakes that had kept the No. 29 team from translating good runs into wins in the Sprint Cup division.
“It’s mistakes from top to bottom,” he said. “There is nothing to hide on the cars that run fast enough to win races.”
Harvick listed several things that have gone wrong: “Stuff can’t fall off the car, you can’t run out of gas for the fifth time this year.”
He said it was those little things that have put the team in this position of having to fight from behind.
“This isn’t something that I’m getting defensive about or anything,” Harvick said. “It’s very obvious as to why this team hasn’t won a race. We are fortunate to be in the position that we are in points, but we can’t scramble.
“You can’t win a championship and you can’t win races on a week-to-week basis making the mistakes that we’ve made.”
Harvick said all of the blame can’t be put solely on the shoulders of the crew guys on race day or the guys who build the cars back in the RCR shop in North Carolina.
He said he accepts that some of the fault rests with him as well.
“You just cannot do the things that we’ve been doing and expect to win races in this garage,” Harvick said. “Everybody has to step up, myself included.”
He said that at the Sprint Cup level, everything is magnified because the best 43 stock car drivers in the world are all looking to win every single week and any one weak spot, however small, will cost a team a win.
“They all can do the job, it’s just a matter of crossing the ‘T’s’ and dotting the ‘I’s’,” Harvick said. “That is what it takes to win races in this garage.
“It’s tough enough to win, but when you are making the mistakes that we make it’s impossible.”
Canada’s Jacques Villeneuve may have put his sponsorship for the NAPA 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in August in jeopardy with his petulant move to punt Danica Patrick out of the race at Road America last weekend. Discount Tires, sponsor or the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge issued a release this week apologising for Villeneuve’s attitude after the incident in which he said he “didn’t care” that he wrecked the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. The release said in part: “Although we believe the contact between Villeneuve and Patrick to be unfortunate, it is a part of professional racing. However, Villeneuve’s post-race comments did not reflect our ideals regarding sportsmanship.” ... If the situation is as strained as it appears, it is possible Penske could take Villeneuve out of the car for Montreal. By the way IZOD IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani, who drove a Penske Dodge to second place in Montreal last year, just happens to be available should they come calling.