By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
A race team with a once sterling reputation on the track, is now fledgling. Richard Childress Racing hasn’t won a race since Kevin Harvick packed his bags for greener pastures at Stewart-Haas Racing more than two years ago.
For a team that housed cars for the legendary Dale Earnhardt for nearly 20 seasons, and for years was a championship contender with drivers like Kevkn Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton turning the wheel, this is absolutely unacceptable.
While Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske, Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing currently set the bar as power houses of the sport, RCR lags behind.
Since RCR’s last victory — 77 races ago — Hendrick Motorsports has racked up 23 wins.
To put the teams’s current issues in even better perspective, did you know that only one driver currently driving for RCR — Paul Menard — has even won a Sprint Cup race while driving for the team? Menard captured the Brickyard 400 back in 2011, but it’s been a long dry spell for him since.
Ryan Newman, winner of 17 Cup races, has still not been able to find victory lane in a Childress car through 76 starts with the team.
Something just seems to be missing.
Add another layer to this story; Childress’ grandson, Austin Dillon drives for the team. Dillon currently is in the midst of his third year of driving in the Sprint Cup Series, and he is finally starting to make some head way towards being a weekly contender.
For the first couple of seasons Dillon was trying to shake off the learning curve of driving in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, but since being paired with crew chief Slugger Labbe at the mid-way point of last season things have begun to click.
Dillon now finds himself in the top-10 of the championship standings heading into this Sunday’s Auto Club 400. After turning a fast lap in the closing seconds of qualifying at Auto Club Speedway on Friday, he also finds himself on the pole for just the second time in his career.
Dillon obviously already carries the pressure of driving the famous No. 3 car, while also trying to restore his grandfather’s team as one of the sport’s elite. Now pile on the pressure of trying to win on a week where we all know he has a fast car going into the race.
It’s a tough situation, but that’s life. Dillon knew what he was getting into when he signed up to be a racecar driver. He knows he has the talent, and he also knows he must rise above these pressures to find victory lane, the future of his grandfather’s race team hinges on it.
Image: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images
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