Richard Childress Racing dominated NASCAR throughout the late '80s and early '90s. That was all thanks to a man who you've probably heard of before: Dale Earnhardt. The iconic driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet won six of his seven championships during his time with RCR, having hoisted the NASCAR Cup Series trophy in 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, and 1994. Since Earnhardt's final title in '94, RCR has been in a title drought. Team owner Richard Childress is hoping to change all that with the recent signing of another man who you've also probably heard of before: Kyle Busch.
Busch's behind-the-scenes problems with Joe Gibbs Racing were well-publicized for the past several months. After M&M's made the decision to part ways with JGR as a primary sponsor, Busch's relationship with his longtime team soured. He felt like they were dragging their feet with finding him another sponsor. He felt like his brash persona wasn't being appreciated anymore. He felt like he needed a fresh start. That's where Richard Childress came in.
Now, you'd probably think that Childress and Busch would be the last people to work together, given their checkered past. But, Childress is no dummy. He's followed Kyle Busch's career behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota. He didn't win fifty-six Cup races and two titles by accident. And, not only does Childress think that Busch can win his third championship with RCR, but during a media appearance on Tuesday morning, the 76-year-old elder statesman of NASCAR went as far as to compare Kyle "Rowdy" Busch to The Intimidator himself.
Richard Childress says Kyle Busch reminds him of Dale Earnhardt. pic.twitter.com/twHmIAUjxb
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) September 13, 2022
"We started talking, and we talked about championships," Childress said. "And we talked about winning races. I looked at him in his eye and I seen that look in Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s eye."
"He's like, 'We're gonna win.' I'd seen that look before and watching Kyle, I watched his talent for many years since he started in the Busch Series. Just how he handles a car the guard control, the way he drives a car, and take-no-prisoner attitude. That's the Dale Earnhardt style that I was accustomed to racing with. And I think Kyle has that modern style of racing that Dale Earnhardt had in his time."
That's high praise from a man who worked closely with NASCAR's GOAT in his prime. It's also a comparison that has drawn the ire of a ton NASCAR fans. Not surprising, considering that Earnhardt is the most beloved stock car racer of all time, while Busch has been known to rub plenty of folks the wrong way with his over-the-top personality. Speaking of Busch's personality, as boos rained down on him at Bristol Motor Speedway back in April, the Las Vegas native also compared himself to Dale Sr., alluding to The Intimidator's controversial finish at Bristol in 1999.
"Man, I feel like Dale Earnhardt Sr. right now." ?@KyleBusch | @JoeGibbsRacing pic.twitter.com/ghvH6Knmi9
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 18, 2022
Comparisons aside, speculation over Busch's ties to Earnhardt's legacy abounded even further earlier this week, as many pointed to the possibility of Busch driving the No. 3 Chevy, which is currently helmed by Childress' grandson Austin Dillon. On a Reddit thread of all places, Dale Earnhardt Jr. addressed the speculation and touched on a scenario in which he'd be okay with the move.
"I wish they could retire the current stylized font, then make an entirely new font/design," Dale Jr. said. "Then by all means...I wanna go back to when you saw that number on a license plate or anywhere, and you KNEW they were 100% Earnhardt Sr."
But, the speculations rang untrue. At least as of the publication of this article. Unless there are some drastic changes soon, Kyle Busch will drive the No. 8 Chevy, Austin Dillon will stay in the No. 3, and Tyler Reddick (the previous driver of the No. 8) will be placed in a third car.
Obviously, when you look at the larger scope of things, the number on Busch's car doesn't really matter. He's at RCR for a title. That's why they brought him on, and that's what Richard Childress was manifesting with his Dale Earnhardt comparison. Will he be able to touch Senior's seven championships? Probably not. But, unless he can bring the team at least one title, his stint with RCR will be a definitive bust.
MORE: Kyle Busch Has a Massive House for His Trophies, But One Trophy Still Eludes Him
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