Childress Cars Will Be Running Leaner This Year

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 23 2018

Richard Childress’s racing operation will be trimmed down for the 2018 season.
(RacinToday/HHP file photo by David Tulis)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Richard Childress Racing became a leaner organization at the conclusion of the 2017 season and it’s a change that Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric believe will strengthen RCR this year.

Last year, RCR fielded three full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams and five in the Xfinity Series. With Paul Menard’s departure to the Wood Brothers, RCR has two Cup teams this year. It has reduced its Xfinity program to two full-time teams with Hemric and Matt Tifft and a part-time for Ty Dillon.

I see a lot of two-car teams being successful,” Austin Dillon said Tuesday during the NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. “It’s nice to be able to focus on two cars. It is leaner and meaner, but as far as the depth in the places you need, it’s probably better … as far as the speed factory goes. I think we grew stronger in areas that we needed to grow and that was in engineering. I personally wanted to go into this season prepared with RCR and being a two-car team makes us the most prepared I think we can be going into next season.

Both Dillon and Ryan Newman made the 2017 Cup playoffs, but Newman didn’t advance past the first round. He finished 16th in the standings. Dillon was eliminated from the playoffs in the second round and had to settle for 11th in the driver standings. Hemric made it to the championship round in the Xfinity Series, but had trouble in the season finale at Homestead and finished 34th. That left him fourth in the standings.

“I would be lying if I said I was over it. I don’t think I’ll ever be completely over it,” Hemric said about Homestead. “There were definitely some sleepless nights the two weeks following it. A lot of people kept apologizing, saying they felt bad. I told them there was no reason to apologize. It’s competition. It’s a sport. It’s a matter of climbing yourself out of those valleys and keeping yourself from getting too high. I hate it worked out the way it did for our company, but on the bright side it will make me a better racer and a better person, and that I’m thankful for.”

In addition to the downsizing in the off-season, RCR named Andy Petree as its vice president of competition and Dr. Eric Warren as chief technology officer. RCR brought Petree on in an advisory role last October to conduct a comprehensive review of the team’s competition area. Petree worked for Childress in the 1990s as a crew chief for Dale Earnhardt before leaving to become a team owner. He was Earnhardt’s crew chief when he claimed his last two championships.  

Dillon said having Petree in the organization provided a “line between my grandfather … and Eric Warren.”

“I think he (Petree) is someone who can really relate to him from old school to new school and that’s a key part of it,” Dillon said. “Andy has a passion and has always had a passion for engineering, but also plays to my grandfather’s cards where he’s got an old school part to him, too. He’s letting Eric Warren work in his area and then Andy is relaying those messages and pushing my grandfather to the right direction we need to go.”

During the off-season, RCR also created an alliance with Richard Petty Motorsports, which relocated from Mooresville, N.C., to the RCR campus in Welcome, N.C.

“It was really cool yesterday (Monday) having the King (Richard Petty) in the room meeting with all of us and my grandfather,” Dillon said. “Seeing those two iconic brands standing together makes it special.”

He also noted he and Petty’s driver, Bubba Wallace, grew up racing together.

“I’ve watched him race since Legends cars and raced against him,” Dillon said. “He’s a fierce competitor. I love that about him. I’m glad he’s on our side.”   

Dillon said he didn’t know if he would classify 2018 as a rebuilding year for RCR, but he knew the organization was receiving more resources than it’s ever had for a full year for two teams.

“Three teams you get spread thin at times,” Dillon said. “Now we have the people that we want around us.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 23 2018
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Joe Jacalone says:

    I think us fans would appreciate it if these teams were more honest about why they are downsizing. In the boom time, owners were putting together as many teams as they could find drivers for. Now, they are telling us they are getting leaner and meaner. I think almost all of us can appreciate financial difficulties. I believe if they just came out and said we don’t have the funding to run as many teams, it would probably bring out compassion and support from the fan base.