Found August 09, 2012 on
Race Review Online:
What is to be done about the curious case of RCR?
Richard Childress Racing has been trying without success to win a Cup championship since the final time the late Dale Earnhardt ascended the highest pinnacle of the sport in 1994.
Throughout the last decade especially, changes in the driver (and crew chief) lineup have come frequently. We are just past the halfway point in 2012, and it's apparent than another change ought to be made. Kevin Harvick has had a down year, although he'll still make the Chase. Jeff Burton isn't quite as terrible as last year, but he's done nothing to break the downward trajectory of his career. Paul Menard hasn't done anything of note to follow up on his Brickyard 400 win from last year. None of the three drivers has scored a win or led more than a handful of laps.
Clearly, the organization needs to shake things up. Adding a new driver is probably the best route to go.
That would almost certainly mean expanding to four cars, as subtraction isn't about to happen. Dropping Harvick (the team's best driver) or Menard (whose had decent success and comes with a major sponsor) makes no sense, and cutting Burton loose isn't a great option either. Despite his struggles, he's a solid veteran presence and still has time on his contract.
Team owner Richard Childress could also try switching crew chiefs around as he has in the past, and I wouldn't be surprised if that happens before the end of this season. But it's likely not a long-term solution for creating a significantly higher level of success.
So that leaves adding a fourth team as the best option for shaking things up. Bringing on some additional talent could (and probably a new crew chief) could bring a fresh infusion of innovation and energy to an organization that is clearly needing some new ideas.
It's well known that RCR has tried to expand to four teams not once, but twice in recent years. Bringing on Casey Mears in 2008 was an unmitigated disaster. Things went okay the first year, but the wheels fell off completely for the whole organization in 2009 and Mears moved on following the season.
In 2011, Paul Menard came on board to bring RCR back up to four teams. Burton was the only driver to not win last season, as Menard won at the Brickyard. However, Harvick was the only driver to make the Chase and Clint Bowyer left for Michael Waltrip Racing at the end of the year.
Clearly, adding a fourth team hasn't been the silver bullet for RCR in the past, but maybe the third time will be the charm. The question is, who to add?
There are several talented drivers who figure to be available. Matt Kenseth tops the list, although he says his plans for 2013 are already in place (most likely with Joe Gibbs Racing). Kurt Busch is a good candidate...but can you imagine Harvick and the always-volatile Busch on the same team? Yeah, neither can I.
After those two former champions, the best option is Joey Logano. After JoLo, the choices thin out considerably and include David Ragan, David Reutimann and Elliott Sadler, with outside possibilities of drivers such as Brian Vickers and Justin Allgaier (someone needs to give Allgaier a shot in Cup!).
If it were up to me, I'd make a strong push for Joey Logano (assuming Kenseth is off the table). Considering his youth, "Sliced Bread" has the highest potential of any of the aforementioned drivers, and perhaps a change of scenery would be what it takes for him to live up to his hype. Being on a team with a veteran like Jeff Burton could be a huge boon after having to deal with the likes of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin at JGR--talented drivers, to be sure, but not exactly the best of mentors for a young prodigy.
After Logano, I'd pass over Kurt Busch and go with Sadler, who is already tearing it up for RCR at the Nationwide level and clearly hopes to return to the Cup level. It's unlikely that he could develop into a serious championship hopeful, but he'd likely be a solid Chase contender and put up better results than he had at any prior point in Cup competition.
Would a change of this type be what RCR needs to push it back toward the top of the sport?
Maybe, maybe not. At present, the team is severely lacking in both star power and overall performance--even Kevin Harvick has been struggling this year. But something certainly ought to be done to shake things up. The status quo isn't getting the job done.
BEST OF MAXIM
In 49 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Watkins Glen International, RCR boasts two wins (Robby Gordon 2003 and Kevin Harvick 2006), eight top-five and 21 top-10 finishes. Dale Earnhardt won three poles (1990, ’92, ’96) at the high-speed, seven-turn upstate New York circuit.
RCR in the NSCS … In 2,228 Sprint Cup Series starts dating back to 1969, RCR has amassed 100 wins, 432...
In 15 Nationwide Series starts at Watkins Glen International, Richard Childress Racing has made one appearance to Victory Lane, with Kevin Harvick in 2007, among five top-five and eight top-10 finishes. The Welcome, N.C.-based organization has completed 96.8 percent of laps attempted at the track, with 111 laps led.
The Season So Far … In the 20 races contested this season, RCR...
When Austin Dillon was introduced to the NASCAR world, he was best known as the grandson of legendary team owner Richard Childress and the son of Richard Childress Racing’s vice president of competition, Mike Dillon.
Today, Dillon is rapidly making a name for himself and is gaining respect from his peers and fans all around.
Dillon’s car number is most notably associated...