HOMESTEAD, Fla – Richard Childress has seen enough down years for his NASCAR Cup Series team that he’s ready to make gains again. Richard Childress Racing has reached victory lane 108 times over the course of their storied NASCAR career in NASCAR’s premiere series.
But, after Dale Earnhardt passed in the 2001 Daytona 500 and Kevin Harvick departed the team for Stewart-Haas Racing following the 2013 season, RCR has been a bit of a work in progress.
Harvick, won four times alone in 2013 — they’ve had three combined wins in the last six years since. From 2001 through 2013, RCR won 35 times, Harvick won 23 of them.
They’ve gone through countless changes from 2014 through 2019. From three cars down to two. The only constant has been Austin Dillon who’s won two of those three races since 2014. Childress’ grandson won the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 and the 2018 Daytona 500.
This past year, Dillon and his rookie teammate of Daniel Hemric struggled. They enter the season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway with zero combined wins and one top five finish. Also, Dillon and Hemric have seven combined top 10’s and 92 laps led.
But, Childress vows that big changes are coming. First, Dillon gets a new crew chief. Second, two-time defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champion in Tyler Reddick will replace Hemric. Reddick, will bring entire team from this past NXS season up to Cup including his crew chief Randall Burnett and spotter.
The changes have Childress giddy at what’s ahead. He think those alterations to his team on the Cup level as well as Reddick can bring them back to relevance again.
“You know, I think he’s an amazing talent,” Childress said of Reddick following his championship on Saturday. “I seen that before he even won his first championship, watching him race. He drove some loose race cars that year for Jr. and those guys. Really loose. That gets you in trouble. First thing I told Randall, you keep him tight enough, he’ll go out and win a lot of races for us. And he did.
“We’re so excited. I just felt if we could get here, we’d have a great shot of winning the championship, and the talent that he’s got next year is going to be — it’s going to raise RCR to another level.
“We’ve changed so much this year. I’m as excited about next year as I have been in a long time, having Tyler in the Cup car and the things we know he can do and what he’ll bring to RCR.
“I had confidence in him. I know what he can do, and I know how he can drive the race car, and he’s a special talent for sure.
But to win a race and a championship and have a great driver like Tyler be right there with us, and I am so excited about next year because we’re bringing — I’m letting these crew chiefs on the 3 and the 8 car next year, which Tyler will be driving, he’s going to bring his whole team up.
“We’re making a lot of changes, and I think you’re going to see a different RCR next year. Tyler is going to put everybody to work over there because he’s going to bring some speed and some talent with it.”
Reddick, is equally as excited. He’s ready to mix things up and says that the people around him this year helped them reach greatness in 2019.
“Just goes to show when you get a group of really good people together and you can just do some crazy things, some incredible things,” said the California native. “It’s been a lot of fun this year. Last year the chemistry was great, JR Motorsports with Dave and our whole team, but we had that again here at RCR right away, and from the top down, and just our road crew, to the guys back at the shop working on our cars, to all of it, it’s just a great organization.
“We get along really well. We have fun, and we work really, really hard. It’s just been a blast this year to put our heads together and go out and tackle the goals and challenges we have set forth in front of us.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I know the next step is going to be more challenging, but it’s been a blast racing the Xfinity Series the last three years, and it’s really cool being able to go back-to-back. Absolutely. I knew coming in it was going to feel different if we were able to succeed. Yeah, it’s just a total team effort. We were, like I said, consistent every week, and the things we were able to do and the things the team were able to help me with to accomplish, the things I wasn’t very good at. And then some of our most consistent races become those road courses and things like that.
“Just it’s awesome. They helped me a lot, and it just was a lot of motivation to go out there and get it done tonight when at times we were sixth, seventh, and other times we were down a couple laps on tires to other guys and just pushing them when we had to push and get around the 7 and the 20 — the 20, the 7 and the 00 at the end there, too. They motivated me a lot this year, and I was coming into this with a lot of fire.”
Not of this is a slight at Hemric either. He’s a very talented driver himself. It’s just that he wasn’t surrounded with the right people in Childress’s mind and that Reddick is that special type of driver that you can’t ignore.