Happiest guy in NASCAR these days, outside of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s groomer -- who's had a nice vacation -- has to be Kevin Harvick. Happy sits atop the Chase standings, and he's a couple minuscule breaks away from having two wins in the first two races. He won the preseason Bud Shootout, was in the hunt for Daytona, and just barely missed out on catching Jimmie Johnson in the final laps of Sunday's Auto Club 500. Oh, and he's not doing too badly as an owner either, winning the Nationwide season-opener at Daytona with Tony Stewart in the driver's seat.
It's a stark change from 2009, when Harvick also won the Bud Shootout but then went into a tailspin that had him out of the Chase hunt by June. For whatever reason, however, Harvick and his fellow Richard Childress Racing drivers are cleaning up in a way that they haven't since 2008.
For Harvick, this isn't a cause for celebration, though; this is simply a return of the NASCAR world to its natural order:
"I mean, it's just what we're supposed to do," Harvick said after Sunday's race. "That's just how it's supposed to be. That's what we get paid to do. We get paid to go out and drive the car as hard as we can, and we're supposed to run up front. That's what everybody pays to be on our cars and what we work for."
Of course, all this foofaraw around Harvick is just a prelude to the real question: where's he going to end up next? He's taking the old "we're just here to race; we'll talk about next year later" approach at every track, but the speculation is already running rampant -- will he jump to Stewart-Haas?
One clue may be found in Ryan McGee's recent ESPN The Magazine article on SHR. "I have said all along that I refuse to bite off more than I can chew," Stewart said, but then patted his belly. "Clearly, though, I can chew a lot."
That's for the future, though. For now, Harvick is back on top, and -- to coin a nickname -- he's gotta be happy.