Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Richard Childress Racing Expands 2017 Lineup to Eight Teams

By David Morgan, NASCAR Contributor

Heading into 2017, Richard Childress Racing is going all-in on their efforts for next season as they announced on Wednesday that they would be moving to eight full-time teams across the top two national NASCAR series for the first time since 2011.

The organization will keep the same three driver lineup in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next year with Austin Dillon, Paul Menard, and Ryan Newman returning to the No. 3, No. 27, and No. 31 teams respectively. Slugger Labbe will be back as crew chief for Dillon, as will Luke Lambert with Newman. However, Menard will have a new crew chief in Matt Borland, who moves over to RCR after spending the past few years at Stewart-Haas Racing.

RCR will also be revamping the pit crews for Dillon and Menard, while Newman’s team will remain mostly the same.

While the organization will stay with three drivers in the Cup Series, their NASCAR Xfinity Series efforts for 2017 will be getting a major boost as they will be moving to five full-time teams for the first time in RCR history.

Daniel Hemric has joined the team for 2017 after spending the past two seasons driving for Brad Keselowski Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and will be piloting the No. 21 Chevrolet for RCR next season in his first full-time season in the Xfinity Series. The rookie will be joined by Danny Stockman, who led Austin Dillon to an Xfinity Series title in 2013 and a Truck Series championship in 2011.

Along with Hemric competing for the Xfinity Series championship in 2017, sophomore driver Brandon Jones and Brendan Gaughan will also be back in the No. 33 and No. 62 cars, respectively, to give RCR three drivers in pursuit of the title. Nick Harrison will move over to crew chief Jones’ team after serving as crew chief for Ty Dillon last season, while Shane Wilson returns to Gaughan’s team for their 12th season together.

Joining the three teams going for the Xfinity Series driver’s championship will be two other teams comprised of various Cup Series drivers.

The No. 2 car will be piloted mainly by Austin Dillon and Paul Menard, with other drivers to be named later to fill in the remaining races in the schedule. Justin Alexander will also be back as crew chief for the team after leading them to two wins in 2016.

Ty Dillon, who will be moving up to the Cup Series in 2017, will also drive the No. 3 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series on a part-time basis next season and will be joined by other drivers that have yet to be released throughout the season. Rookie crew chief Matt Swiderski, who has served as an engineer for RCR over the past 10 seasons and made his debut as a crew chief in the season finale at Homestead, will take over as crew chief full-time for the No. 3 team next season.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.

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