Now the challenge for the team is staying there for the next 22 races, and returning the three drivers back to the Chase for the Sprint Cup. All three RCR Cup drivers made the Chase in 2007-'08, and all three missed it last year.
Bowyer, for one, thinks the team can maintain its early-season pace. And his early-season results have been encouraging for the Kansas native, with one top-five and three top-10 finishes in the first four races of the 2010 season.
"I am confident," said Bowyer, who sits fifth in points, one position ahead of Burton, with Harvick currently first in the standings. "I think it goes back to the way we've organized our race team. I feel like we've made huge strides at that, with personnel and putting good people in places that can carry us through the long haul. That's what you've got to do."
Bowyer credited much of the team's turnaround from a dreadful 2009 to team owner Richard Childress, who overhauled and restructured the team at the end of last season. Childress was well-versed in the process, having done a similar reorganization late in a disappointing 2006 season.
"It was very tough on him," said Bowyer of Childress and the 2009 season. "He's used to winning. He's used to winning championships, and he's always had that. You have a year like he had last year, you can imagine how miserable he must have been."
It's Bowyer's hope that he and his teammates can help lift RCR back to its glory days, when the late Dale Earnhardt won six of his seven NASCAR Sprint Cup titles driving for Childress.
"I'm coming into this sport and I didn't win six championships with the best race-car driver this sport's ever had," said Bowyer. "I didn't enjoy that, I wasn't around to see that. So I don't know any different from RCR. He (Childress) does. He has seen the top. He has seen the view from the top of the mountain, and I couldn't imagine being shoved off that mountain and standing at the bottom looking up again. But that shows you the kind of person he is, the kind of racer that he is. He digs deep, he works hard to get that fixed."
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEEDtv.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org Jensen is the author of "Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed," and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.