Tag: Richard Childress Racing

Newman Ready To Be Spoiler

When the Chase for the Sprint Cup rule changes were announced before the start of the 2014 season, there were two things that would have been unbelievable. The first would be that a winless driver would be in the final four drivers for the championship, and one of those drivers would be Ryan Newman.

Here we are just days away from the start of the Ford Championship Weekend and Ryan Newman is playing the role of the underdog. He will contend against Joey Logano (five wins this season), Kevin Harvick (four), and Denny Hamlin (one) to fight for the title. Though he does not have a win under his belt this season, that is not going to keep Newman from being confident this weekend.

“It doesn’t matter to me. I mean, in the end it really doesn’t matter…the fastest car may not win, the best car on a restart may not win. You just never know. It could come right down to fuel mileage and three of the four of us could be coasting on the last lap. You just never know,” commented Newman after Sunday’s race at Phoenix.

How this team has performed should not have surprised anyone, it was former driver Jeff Burton who gushed about how close the team was just one year ago. “We’ve got really, really good people on that team, and we’re starting to perform. Truly, I’m walking away from it when I believe we’re about to blossom. I can feel it. I can see it.”

The Homestead-Miami Speedway has not been the best track for Newman in his career. His best run was a third place effort in 2012; beyond that it has been a sixth place in 2002, and a pair of seventh place finishes in 2005 and 2001.

That said, this year is different from his past few years. Consistency has been Newman’s best friend this season. This can be seen by exactly how he has found his way into the Chase. Comparing last season with Stewart-Haas Racing, to this season with Richard Childress Racing, his numbers are much better on intermediate tracks. Last season he had one top-5 and seven top-10 finishes, this year it is two top-5s and seven top-10 finishes.

The difference is the average finish, one year ago it was 16.50 and this season it has been dropped to 10.38. He’s completed 99.98% of the laps run this season versus 95.06, thanks to finishing every race versus two DNFs last season. Another big stat is he has spent 74.63% of the laps run in the top-15 this season versus 52.44% last year.

While the numbers don’t look great compared to the others going for the title, Newman has exposed one crucial side of himself this past weekend: he will do anything to put himself in contention for the title. As Newman said, “that’s part of the intensity of this Chase. It’s racing, man. That’s what we’re kind of supposed to do.”

And that is what they will do this Sunday in the Ford EcoBoost 400. Fans can catch the action at 3 PM EST on ESPN when the 2014 Sprint Cup Series championship will be determined after 36 grueling weeks.

Sadler Should Do Good With Roush Fenway In 2015, Not Great

There was a time when Roush Fenway Racing was brought up, in respect to the Nationwide (soon to be XFINITY) Series you could say it was dominate. Mark Martin spent many years winning a lot of races for the team, then Carl Edwards stepped in and kept the train rolling, and then there was Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. picking up back to back championships.

As with their Sprint Cup Series effort, dominate is not the word I would use to describe the team. I’m not sure what exactly the word would be because whenever I think they’re down and out, the team comes through with a good performance.

Announced for 2015 is veteran Elliott Sadler joining the organization to drive alongside Ryan Reed and Chris Buescher. There should be a bump in performance given Sadler’s experience, currently Trevor Bayne is the most experience driver in the stable, but I’m not expecting miracles for Sadler or his teammates.

Sadler is a puzzle of a driver right now. He’s’ shown the ability to get it done, but for some reason or another there is no consistency. When he drove for Richard Childress Racing from 2011 to 2012, he was in the thick of the championship hunt and won races. That relationship eroded and he left knocking on the door for a title.

Year Starts Poles Wins Top-5s Top-10s Led AvgSt AvgFin Rank
2011 34 5 0 12 24 181 8.7 9.8 2
2012 33 4 4 15 24 366 6.7 7.6 2

Joining Joe Gibbs Racing, a team that dominates week in and week out thanks to Kyle Busch, you figured he would make that next step to champion. The results, including this year, have been disappointing and are likely why Sadler will be in his third team in four years. He finally got a win this season at Talladega, but has been lackluster everywhere else.

Year Starts Poles Wins Top-5s Top-10s Led AvgSt AvgFin Rank
2013 33 0 0 9 20 150 12.1 11.2 4
2014 30 1 1 6 22 148 9.2 9.7 4

Looking at his performance versus his future team and you see the numbers are not drastically that far from each other. Buescher added a win this year, Bayne has yet to break through, but has a pole, and Reed has spent the year learning the ropes.

Driver Starts Poles Wins Top-5s Top-10s Led AvgSt AvgFin Rank
Reed 30 0 0 1 1 29 17.3 16.5 9
Bayne 30 1 0 5 20 62 11.9 10.6 6
Buescher 29 0 1 4 13 57 11.3 12.9 7
Sadler 30 1 1 6 22 148 9.2 9.7 4

That is why when you mash the numbers up to predict what Sadler could do with Roush Fenway Racing, the results are about where he is now with Joe Gibbs Racing. Granted, there are factors we won’t know for a while, including the makeup of Sadler’s team, but on paper it’s a lateral move.

Year Starts Poles Wins Top-5s Top-10s Led AvgSt AvgFin Rank
2015 33 1 1 7 17 130 11.3 11.3 5

I expect Sadler to compete from time to time, be consistent, which will lead to him being near the top of the standings, but that will be deceiving. I don’t see him as a legitimate title contender at this point, like he was with Richard Childress Racing.

The Unstable World Of NASCAR Ownership


With the recent demise of Swan Racing, it got me thinking about the ownership landscape of NASCAR. It seems every year we see a team come in and leave within a year or two. Only a handful of organizations have stood up to the test of time. Here are my survival theories.

To get an idea of how unstable the world of NASCAR ownership is, I took a look back to 1990 and noted what teams were in the Daytona 500 for that year. Granted, some drivers missed the show and ran the rest of the year, but I used that race as my baseline. From there I looked at five year intervals going all the way up to 2014.

The 1990 Daytona 500 list reveals only four teams that existed then still competed in 2014;and one team technically still operates, but has gone through a ton of mergers. The four teams are Richard Childress Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, and Wood Brothers Racing. At the time Childress only fielded a single entry for Dale Earnhardt; Hendrick ran three teams; Roush had only one car; and the Wood Brothers had their single entry.

Of those four organizations, both Roush and Childress had to get outside help/investment in their teams during the past decade. Though crew members, drivers, and management all change year to year, the business ownership entity has stayed the same over the years. Hendrick Motorsports and Wood Brothers Racing are the only two to have their teams 100 % intact. Going one step further, the Wood Brothers no longer run full schedules. This leaves Hendrick Motorsports as the only team to keep their team intact since 1990.

Another team with this group is SABCO Racing (then later Team SABCO) owned by Felix Sabates. They ran the #42 Pontiac for Kyle Petty in 1990 where Sabates ran the team for many years before bringing in Chip Ganassi in 2001. From there the team re-branded itself as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. In 2008, the team merged with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to become Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Finally this year, they divested themselves of the Earnhardt name to go back to Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.

Like most teams, Ganassi has seen its organization go from one car up to as many as four, then back down to the current two car operation. Roush started as one car before moving to two then up to five at one point. Currently they operate only three cars. Hendrick has been four cars since 2002 when the organization added Jimmie Johnson, although they have campaigned more in select races. Childress has constantly bounced from three to four cars the past decade without much success with each expansion.

There are two organizations that missed the cut of 1990 that have campaigned cars for over 20 years now, those being Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske. Neither has brought in investors, although Team Penske has acquired teams in order to expand. In 1998 they purchased Michael Kranefuss’ team and then in 2004 they acquired Doug Bawel’s Jasper Motorsports team.

In 1990, 40 of the 42 cars in the Daytona 500 we single car efforts. Only Hendrick Motorsports had more than one entry that race. By 1995 that number decreased slightly to 38 independent teams. By 2000 that number dropped to 27, in 2005 it hit the lowest point at which 20 teams now made up the 43 finishers of the Daytona 500. That number went up to 21 for 2010 and 2014.

Starting from 1990 the number of teams who entered a car in that Daytona 500 to 1995 was 22, so 18 teams disappeared (or missed the race). In 2000 16 teams returned, although organizations like Roush Fenway Racing went from two cars in 1995 to four in 2000. For 2005, the number dipped down to 14, but the worst showing was going to 2010 when only nine teams came back.

That was by far the worst stretch, as teams like Dale Earnhardt, Inc. merged with MB2 Motorsports and then Chip Ganassi Racing, going from eight teams among them down to two. Ray Evernham Motorsports was bought by George Gillette then merged into Petty Enterprises to make Richard Petty Motorsports. Another set of moves that took five teams out of operation and replaced them with only two running now. In the last four year gap of 2010 to 2014, 16 teams came back out of the 21 that entered a car in the Daytona 500.

No one has ever gotten rich from running a race team from the local level up to the NASCAR leagues. Team owners pour millions of dollars into their teams with little to no return; just ask Kyle Busch or Rusty Wallace how team ownership goes. Where organizations like Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, and Joe Gibbs Racing have made their money has been outsourcing services.


Hendrick Motorsports sells chassis, engines, and technical support to other organizations who race in NASCAR, most notably Stewart-Haas Racing. Roush Fenway Racing created Roush Yates Engines and makes money with that venture among others. Joe Gibbs Racing has developed racing products that they sell to secondary markets.

The key to ownership is having sponsors for one, but also the ability to make other revenue streams into your organization. This is simple business concepts, but unfortunately teams like Swan Racing can’t get the sponsorship that will allow them the foundation on which to set the organization. A great example is even the great empire that is Red Bull Racing, who spends money like crazy in Formula 1 but could not cut it in NASCAR, no matter how much they spent.

NASCAR, and racing in general, is a tough sport because so much is dependent on having the funds to compete for sponsorships. Unless there is a way to cap costs, teams will come and go, and we will even see a time where the mightiest team can just be a distant memory.

Earnhardt’s Win Comes At Perfect Time For NASCAR


A lot has happened over the past few months in the world of NASCAR. Change is the big word for the 2014 season, and that change has been met with a lot of resistance. First with rules the Chase field was expanded and now features a four driver dash in the final race to determine a champion. Qualifying procedures have been changed drastically to feature knockout rounds. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the famous number 3 of Dale Earnhardt has returned to the track and old fans are in an outrage.

NASCAR has kept their head down as they plugged forward with all of these changes. While they do listen to fan feedback, there’s no going back at this point to what some would call “the glory days” of NASCAR. Then over at Richard Childress Racing, they have gotten more grief than they should about running a “sacred” number once again.

All of this noise was going on, but it was silenced late Sunday night. That is when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. crossed the finish line first and won the 2014 Daytona 500.

With the victory, Earnhardt is a near sure thing for making the Chase this season. For all the press Austin Dillon got for driving his father’s stylized number 3, Earnhardt will get even more for winning the biggest event on the NASCAR calendar.

The talk will now shift for fans away from how silly this playoff Chase is to “can you believe Earnhardt is already in it!?” He’ll be the big topic once again and with the win has confidence on his side. If Earnhardt can stay competitive and actually pull of his first title, I’m sure none of the complaints we heard at the beginning of the season will matter for most fans.

This is exactly the sort of distraction NASCAR needed from its loyal fan base. It might also win a lot of them over knowing that it was just that easy (well not in reality) for their favorite driver to now make the Chase.

Harvick’s Perception The Indicator Of Why He’s Leaving


One day after having a dust up with his boss’ grandson, Kevin Harvick apologized for comments made after Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. He chalked it up to emotions getting the best of him in the heat of battle.

“There was just a lot of emotion involved,” Harvick told FOX Sports 1 before the Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday. “I hate it for everybody at RCR. You go back and look at the things that happened, and sometimes you regret the things that you say for sure. Yesterday was definitely one of them. I hate it for my guys, and everybody working on the cars. Obviously, when those emotional situations come about, you say things that you really don’t want to say. I just want to apologize to all of those guys, work hard today and try and do everything we can to win the race.”

While he backed away from the comments, there has to be some sort  of truth in Harvick’s original comments. At least the perception of what he believed the situation was at Richard Childress Racing and exactly why he will step away after this season.

Obviously apologizing is the correct course of action considering he’s still got three (at the time four) more races to run and a championship to try and win. You don’t want the team to sabotage his efforts out of spite, which you’d think they’re above that, but you never know.

To Austin and Ty Dillon’s credit they’ve worked hard and won while moving up the NASCAR ladder. It’s not like they are buried in the low 20s and are getting moved along because of who their grandfather is. Austin has won the Truck title and is on his way to a Nationwide title this season. Ty has a couple of wins, but wasn’t consistent enough this year to contend for the Truck title.

This is NASCAR in 2013, it’s more about who you know than your driving talent. I just believe the Dillons have shown enough talent to warrant what they’ve been given so far. It’s just the perception their being handed everything gets under the skin of certain people, like Harvick, who perceive they’ve had to work hard for what they have gotten.

Cooler heads will prevail at Richard Childress Racing, it’s just another example of why it is time for Harvick and the team to go down separate paths after this year.

What Now For NAPA And Truex?


Here’s what we do know: Once the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2013, NAPA Auto Parts will no long be the primary sponsor of the #56 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. Michael Waltrip Racing vows to run the #56 Toyota car with or without new sponsorship coming into replace NAPA and their reported $15-20 million dollar a year sponsorship.

What we don’t know is if Martin Truex, Jr., currently driving that #56 Toyota, will still be the driver when the clock strikes midnight.

There’s a whirlwind of activity going on right now for the MWR team and for Truex. News of NAPA leaving came as a shock to most, especially since Truex was at a NAPA store Thursday night promoting the brand.

In their statement on why they’re leaving MWR, NAPA said they would be reevaluating their NASCAR sponsorship. Many took that as a bad sign that the company, who’s been in NASCAR for a very long time in various divisions, would leave NASCAR all together. I take it as they want to figure out if they want to continue to sponsor just one car full-time, or maybe sponsor a whole team, or move to another series, or wilder yet sponsor an entire series.

We’ll start there, with Nationwide leaving after the 2014 season form sponsoring the second tier NASCAR Nationwide Series, so maybe NAPA would move into that direction. They’ve gotten their name out there in the Sprint Cup Series crowd, maybe dipping down and getting the recognition of a series sponsor could be what they want to do next.

Sponsoring a team versus just one driver could have its perks depending on the team you sponsor. They could spend (if money is an issue) just about the same they were spending on one team over three to four drivers. Picture this, if they went to Hendrick they could put their logo on Jimmie Johnson’s car, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s car, Kasey Kahne’s car, and Jeff Gordon’s car. Then maybe do a few races as full primary sponsor then do all sorts of promotional work with all four drivers.

If you take the same template to Stewart-Haas Racing where you have Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Danica Patrick. Especially Stewart-Haas you could market to four different demographics right there.

My gut says that NAPA stays in as a sponsor for one team, I’m just not sure where that team will be and with what driver. Truex stated after qualifying that he’s committed to MWR and being there for a while. Well, money talks and when it dries up there, he might be tempted to go elsewhere.

Furniture Row Racing needs a driver and wouldn’t mind a sponsor to join him, they could go there. They’ve talked about getting a younger driver to develop, but comments from the team this weekend indicate they’d be open to someone like Turex.

Richard Childress Racing has said they could make a fourth team, provided they could have sponsorship. The interesting part about this scenario is what happens in a few years when Ty Dillon gets promoted to Cup? Who’s the odd driver out with the team?

Other teams with open spots include Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Gibbs and Earnhardt Ganassi haven’t indicated that they were looking to expand this year. Roush Fenway seems to have a spot left open for Trevor Bayne, if they can find sponsorship.

Immediacy up for Truex and his team is the Sylvania 300 being run Sunday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Coverage of the race beginning around 1 PM EST on ESPN.

Furniture Row Racing Trying To Get Blaney?


With how silly season has been going, anything might be possible, especially when you start talking about the Furniture Row Racing team. Their season within the season has had more twists and turns than a road course.

First they acted a bit too late in trying to re-sign current driver Kurt Busch. With Busch the team has made the Chase for the Sprint Cup for the first time in their history. Loose conversation didn’t lead anywhere and Busch jumped at the opportunity to sign with Stewart-Haas Racing for 2014.

The driver Busch is replacing, Ryan Newman, was the next talked about candidate for the ride. The all of a sudden it was announced that Richard Childress Racing (whom has a technical alliance with FRR) was parting ways with driver Jeff Burton. That opened the door for Newman to go to RCR for the 2014 season.

With less chairs available and somehow less drivers, Juan Pablo Montoya was the next hot rumor. The two sides began talking and Montoya even went out to visit the Furniture Row shop. Within a week Montoya had signed with Penske Racing. Not for NASCAR, but for IndyCar.

Now Furniture Row is at a cross roads, what’s available is a mix of older veterans and younger unproven talent. Sure a veteran can get them through this year or next season, but then they’ll be right back where they currently are. If they go with a young talent, they might not be in the Chase or compete for a win for a couple of years, but you’d have that potential there.

Whether they want him or not, but Sam Hornish, Jr. has been trying to sell himself to the team. Hornish has been in the thick of the Nationwide Series points battle all season long and is trying to prove he deserves another chance in the Sprint Cup Series. The problem with the 34-year old driver is he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire when he’s been in the Sprint Cup Series. 130 starts have yielded three top-5 finishes and nine top-10 finishes.

Rumor has it that they are interested in a Penske driver, just not Hornish. Ryan Blaney is a driver whose name has been kicked around as of late. Currently he drives full-time in the Camping World Truck Series for Brad Keselowski Racing and part-time for Penske in the Nationwide Series. The 19-year old driver has two Truck wins and has shown potential. It’s just a question of if he’s prepared for the jump right to the Cup Series or if Penske will let him walk.