Kevin Harvick makes fast turnaround

Happy Day For Harvick At Michigan (3:21)

Kevin Harvick clinches a spot in the Chase with his win at Michigan (3:21)

Pick the cliche. What a difference a year makes. From the outhouse to the penthouse. From chump to champ.

Any of those will do for Kevin Harvick. A year ago, Harvick and team owner Richard Childress were not speaking. Even though Harvick had a year remaining on his contract (2010), he openly talked about his desire to leave Childress' team. In the previous three seasons, Harvick had only one win to his credit. He had grown dissatisfied.

Childress, whose championship mettle was minted by six titles with the late Dale Earnhardt, made it clear that Harvick was under contract for 2010 and he wasn't going to allow Harvick out of his contract. Childress recognized Harvick's talent.

Privately, though, Childress perhaps recognized the truth in Harvick's frustration. A former driver himself, Childress made changes late in the 2009 season, making personnel changes and building new cars.

As the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship nears, the Harvick/Childress combination is the team with momentum and the points lead. As NASCAR's playoffs approach, it's important to peak at the right time. That's often tough for a team to lead the point standings most of the year, as Harvick has done, yet peak going into the Chase.

Give credit to Harvick for voicing his concern, although some would argue such things should be done behind the scenes. And certainly give credit to Childress. He could have publicly asked just who Harvick thought he was to question the team owner whose championship qualifications are held in such high esteem by racing fans.

But both put their differences behind them. Harvick drove his tail off. Childress stepped up with the changes.

And the difference is that instead of slugging it out through the news media (and probably behind the scenes), the duo has momentum, leading the point standings with momentum heading into the Chase.

What a difference a year makes. From the outhouse to the penthouse. From chump to champ.