Richard Childress Racing – Return to Prominence

Photo – Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

The buzz about Richard Childress Racing returning to prominence started three years ago when Richard Childress’s grandson Austin Dillon moved up to race full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, bringing the famed No. 3 back to their stable. Already, Dillon has a few career highlights, winning the pole for the Daytona 500 in his first start, making the playoffs in both his second and third year and this year, winning the historic longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Dillon’s teammate Ryan Newman has also qualified for the playoffs this year, by winning at Phoenix International Raceway and breaking a three plus year, 112 race winless streak for the organization.But for Paul Menard, it’s not enough to entice him and his family sponsorship, to stay with the group as they leave to join Wood Brothers Racing in the No. 21 next season.

RCR is now looking at his options of downsizing to two teams or bringing in a new source of revenue for a third team. The team-cutting strategy worked for Roush Fenway Racing this year with their teams getting better results. While RCR Chevrolets are showing some promise and improvement, they may still fall short of attracting new sponsors.

Top-tier teams in the NASCAR community consistently contend for wins and championships year after year. For RCR it’s been a while since their teams were in a championship conversation.

Before Kevin Harvick left RCR after the 2013 season, he was averaging two victories a year and finishing third overall in points. Harvick was chasing the championship three of his last four seasons at RCR and placed in the top-ten eight of his 13 years with the No. 29 team.

The organization victories this season were the result of tire and fuel strategy moves. It’s okay to win that way once in a while – teams certainly lose as many races under those same scenarios. To seriously contend for a title, teams need to race up front consistently and RCR teams are just short of doing that lately.

The good news is that Dillon is now in his third full year at RCR, which is when young drivers typically find their comfort zone and begin displaying the talent that brought them to the big show. Two prime examples include Joey Logano and Kyle Larson.

Dillon is also marketable to sponsors, representing himself and the organization very well in the NASCAR community. If funding is found for a third team, it’s possible the ride could go to his younger brother Ty Dillon, who is from the same mold.  RCR also has a couple of developing drivers in other series including, Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones, who they can lean on in the future with their stars just starting to shine.

So although the future seems bright at RCR, the team needs to focus on the present to reach the next level. To grow back to where they once were, RCR needs more speed for their cars to race up front, so they can attract more sponsorship.

If RCR management can bring together more funding and speed to their cars, their teams will return to prominence with the right equipment to fight for championships.