For the past two decades, Richard Childress Racing had seemingly felt unwhole since the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. at the 2001 Daytona 500. It had plenty of drivers who were able to win races for the team and tried to compete for a championship, including the likes of Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, and Ryan Newman. But, the team never quite had the same spark.
RCR looked to be heading in the right direction with Richard Childress' grandson Austin Dillon behind the wheel of the No. 3 Chevy, as he has won four times, earning big victories at the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 and the 2018 Daytona 500. It had an up-and-coming star in the making with Tyler Reddick, who won three races behind the wheel of the No. 8 in 2022 — making him the first driver for RCR to win more than once in a season since Harvick left in 2013.
Reddick didn't stay long, though, as he departed for 23XI Racing. The No. 8 seat opened for Kyle Busch, and he has continued to build on the momentum that Reddick brought in that ride last season. Speaking with the Kansas City Star, Childress praised what Busch has already brought to the team.
"I think (Busch) is helping us build RCR back to where we want to be," Childress said. "I have to give all the credit to Austin Dillon. He's the one that came to me; he knew Tyler was going somewhere else. He said, 'Pop, what do you think about bringing Kyle Busch over here?'"
Childress and Busch sat and talked, and they put together a program. Childress credited Dillon with making it happen.
Busch has already shown how valuable a driver he is with two victories on the season already. Coupled with Reddick's three wins in 2022 and Dillon's summer Daytona win, RCR has had six wins in the last 29 races. That is incredible, given that the team had only won three races in the previous eight seasons combined.
"Racing is like life; there's peaks and valleys," said Childress, who famously won six championships with Earnhardt and was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017. "When you get on a peak, it's harder to stay there. You've got to be prepared when you're at the top. We have been there. We've also been in the valley, the very bottom. You got to work harder and have the right drive and emotion to put you up to the top."
RCR has worked hard to get back to that level, and it's certainly been a long path. Harvick always looked like their best shot when he drove for the team from 2001-2013, but a championship was never in the cards. With Busch — a two-time Cup champion — now in the fold, things might be in the right place for RCR to return to the top of the mountain.
Childress got personal about why he still does it after all these years.
"To me, personally, it means a lot. I'm still doing this," Childress said. "If you see all those fans up there, that's why we do it. We're all in this for that reason."
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