Slamming the door on Richard Childress Racing's 2010

We're almost done with 2010, so as we close out the year, we look back one last time at the big teams to see where they went right, where they went wrong, and what their prospects might be for 2011. We continue with a team that rebounded in a big way in 2010.

By the numbers: Five wins, 29 top 5s, 59 top 10s, zero poles.

The recap: Anything would have been an improvement over 2009 for the boys at RCR, as every one of them missed the Chase. They surpassed 2009 with authority, as all three drivers reached the Chase and two, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, actually had legitimate championship aspirations for various moments. Jeff Burton got into a fight with Jeff Gordon, which was cool also. Overall, it was a fine return to form for RCR, led by Harvick's ascension to superstar status.

The outlook: Next year, Paul Menard joins the RCR stable, and if you think that has anything to do with a certain retail store chain that just happens to sponsor Menard, hey, nice job of paying attention. Harvick seems primed to burst big on the national stage, with Budweiser preparing to put serious marketing muscle behind him. Bowyer likewise gained plenty of new fans with his unfortunately-timed penalty at the start of the Chase that cost him any shot at a Cup. And Burton will continue to be NASCAR's smartest and most thoughtful driver, which isn't damning him with faint praise. Times are looking good at RCR right about now.

Previously: Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing

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