Richard Childress on RCR, new car, RTA and his own Legacy

By Tim Packman

LAS VEGAS – Richard Childress Racing started its 51st season in NASCAR competition last week at Daytona International Raceway.

The Daytona 500 ended with its two NASCAR Cup Series Chevrolets suffering damage in separate incidents, thus denying RCR a chance for another Great American Race victory. Austin Dillon finished 12th, under green, with some damage in the No. 3 Chevrolet. Rookie Tyler Reddick received a DNF and 28th-place finish with his wrecked No. 31 Chevrolet.

RCR’s lone NASCAR Xfinity Series entry of Myatt Snider earned the team a seventh-consecutive Speedweeks pole in the No. 21 Chevrolet. However, an early incident took him out of competition forcing them to a 33rd-place finish.

Championship Caliber

With three wins in the past seven years, team owner Richard Childress knows his namesake organization has plenty of room for improvement. It’s not like RCR doesn’t know how to win races and championships, however.

Its earned six championships on the Cup side, all with Dale Earnhardt. RCR has five Xfinity crowns, two with Kevin Harvick and one each by Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick. It also has two Gander RV Outdoors Truck Series champions, one with Mike Skinner and Dillon the other.

It proves the Welcome, N.C.-based team knows how to be successful.

RC on RCR

As the 2020 season heads into the rest of the schedule, Childress and team have put in the offseason efforts to win their way back to Victory Lane. The man who started his racing career selling popcorn and peanuts at Bowman Grey (NC) Stadium is very optimistic about this year and sophomore season of the Camaro.

“Back a few years, we had cars that would finish second, third or fourth in the points,” Childress said. “We just couldn’t get over the hump with the roll Jimmie Johnson was on.

“But, we’ve been working hard the last couple of years. We won a couple of big races with Austin (Daytona 500/Coca Cola 600).

“With the changes we’ve made for 2020 by bringing Tyler up to Cup, changing crew chiefs and our engineering line up will hopefully get us where we need. That’s the biggest thing, having the right people in the right places.”

This is also the second year for the Camaro in Cup. The other Chevrolet teams worked together in the off season to improve on their programs, as well.

“We worked on it and made some changes together,” Childress said. “We made some changes to the body that make us feel we have a better downforce car now. I think we’ll be good with this car, time will tell, but from what we’ve soon so far it’s going to be good.”

While the teams are striving to continue progress on its 2020 cars, everyone in the Cup Series is having to ready for a new generation car for all manufactures in 2021. There have been early inklings the new car will level the playing field a little more giving hope more than a handful of teams can win races.

RCR has been preparing for that transition and Childress feels the same teams will prevail as seen in the past.

“The better teams are still going to win,” he said. “The best engineering groups are still going to be a deciding factor. It will be more of an engineering race we’ll probably see and the best drivers are still going to be the ones to beat.

“Hopefully, some of the reduced cost factors will help all of us out. We need to keep a handle on the cost and not let it get out of hand. We’ve been doing all the testing and work, built the first car and just finished the second car.

“We don’t have any advantage over the others because we’ve taken Gibbs and Penske teams with us to test. Everybody is really learning a lot about this new car.”

Childress does think the fans are going to see some of the best racing they’ve seen in a long time with the 2021 cars.

Race Team Alliance solidifies business future

Last week, the Race Team Alliance and NASCAR reached an agreement to keep the charter system in place for the next four years. The RTA was formed in 2016 and now consists of 13 owners for a total of 30 entries.

While nobody knows the exact financial number agreed upon regarding race purses and championship payouts, Childress is pleased with the group’s direction.

“One of the best things about the RTA is we’ve been able to work with NASCAR a lot closer,” he said. “The teams have also worked closer together on some of the same ideas.

“When it comes to competition, you’re going to have some teams really wanting to take care of themselves, too, and that’s understandable. But, the RTA has definitely been a positive for the whole sport and beneficial to those of us involved.”

RC’s legacy

Childress has a great saying when talking to people about leaving a situation or sport when they move on or retire. He simply says, ‘Always leave it better than you found it.’

When asked what Childress would like his legacy to be, the NASCAR Hall of Fame owner put it quite simple.

“I guess people will say I tried to be honest to everybody,” he said. “I can walk down pit road and I don’t have to step aside for nobody.”

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