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By The Sports Xchange January 22, 2013 7:30 PM
Distributed by The Sports Xchange WELCOME, N.C.-- Team owner Richard Childress confirmed what had been widely reported last year, that driver Kevin Harvick would be leaving Richard Childress Racing at the end of the 2013 season to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing. Both Childress and Harvick, however, vowed to make the best of the current season despite their strong personalities and sometimes contentious history. "We've both committed to each other that we're going to make this a positive year and a positive end," Childress said Monday night at his race shop during the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. "We've had a great career together, and we want to make this last year a great ending. We'll get along fine. "Kevin and I have had our disagreements. I've had that with a lot of drivers, but we'll get through this year just fine." Harvick doesn't want to tarnish the relationship he has built with Childress since succeeding the late Dale Earnhardt in the RCR ride in 2001. Harvick ran his first race a week after Earnhardt was killed in a last-lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. Harvick won at Atlanta in his third start in the RCR Cup car. "I have a lot of respect for Richard and the organization," Harvick said. "You don't want to leave a black mark on that as you leave. You want to do it with as much class and everything that comes with being classy about it as you can. "We're going to race. We're all racers, and we don't care whether we're driving for whoever or driving here, there or everywhere, in a go-kart race or whatever it may be. You want to go out and you want to win, and nobody's going to do anything less than work as hard as they can to achieve those goals." FOUR DECADES LATER Austin Dillon, grandson of Richard Childress, will attempt to make his Daytona 500 debut in an RCR car in February-40 years after Childress failed to qualify for the event in his first try at Daytona. Dillon isn't taking anything for granted. "With the family history, and then going to Daytona. ... I've been able to be in Victory Lane with Kevin Harvick (2007) and Dale Earnhardt (1998) when they won the 500," said Dillon, who will attempt to qualify RCR's No. 33 Chevrolet during Feb. 17 time trials at the 2.5-mile track. "I really remember Harvick's, because I was able to experience everything the next day also. I'm looking forward to it. We're not in it yet. We've still got to qualify, so we've got some work cut out for us. But, once we get in, it's going to be pretty emotional and fun." It will also be emotional for Dillon's father, RCR's vice president of competition and himself a former Nationwide Series driver. The elder Dillon is careful not to set expectations too high. "The biggest thing right now when you watch your kids is you just want them to hit the ball," Mike Dillon said. "Make contact. If they foul it, it's 'OK, you made contact. Next time we'll get it in play.' This deal of making the Daytona 500 is a big deal. "If we can go out and just get in the race and run a good, solid race and come out of there respectable ... Getting in the race and taking the green flag, after that it's just ‘Bring it home safe.'" SPEEDIER DRY Can you imagine Daytona International Speedway dry and ready for racing 30 minutes after a deluge? What might seem far-fetched at first blush is actually a concrete goal, thanks to more effective, greener technology developed by NASCAR. In a press conference Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France elaborated on the innovative technology that uses compressed air and ideally will be able to reduce track-drying time by 80 percent. Track drying "has always been a difficult thing for our fans, both on television and certainly at the track, that once it rains, how long it takes us to get the track dried again," France said. "So what I declared to our team a couple years ago is ‘Let's change the way we do it, let's innovate, let's get a system, and the goal is to improve it by 80 percent.' So that means if we're drying Daytona off, where it usually took two and a half hours, we get it down to 30 minutes. That's the goal. "And we're real close. We'll be debuting our first cycle, our first generation of this track drying system, which is pretty interesting, and we also are going to do it in a much more green, carbon-emission-friendly way. So what that means is obviously when you're at the track, we're going to be able to dry Martinsville off in 15 minutes. "It's going to be a spectacular thing, and all auto racing will benefit from this as we go down the road." The very real expectation is that the new system -- which will be used incrementally with existing track-drying equipment -- will allow NASCAR to take advantage of shorter breaks in bad weather and to complete races that otherwise would have been shortened or postponed. HIGH-POWERED PARTNERSHIP What could possibly amplify the commercial appeal of Richard Petty? Try adding Dale Earnhardt Jr. In order to reach a broader audience, Goody's Headache Powder, which Petty has represented for 37 years, added Earnhardt to its marketing efforts in a partnership announced Monday night at the Embassy Suites in Concord, N.C. Both NASCAR's King and Sprint Cup racing's most popular driver now will represent one of the sport's most enduring brands. Asked to name an instance when he needed Goody's the most, Petty paused for a moment and cited the 1976 Daytona 500, when David Pearson beat him to the finish line after the drivers wrecked while racing for the lead on the final lap. "There wasn't enough Goody's in Volusia County to take care of that headache," Petty quipped.