(photo courtesy RCR PR)
At the end of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Richard Childress polled all members of his organization trying to solve a simple math problem.
Why did three plus one equal zero?
That was the perplexing equation last season. In 2007 and 2008 Richard Childress Racing qualified all three of his race teams for the Chase for The Cup. In 2009 RCR added a fourth race team and failed to put just one of the four into the Chase!
“We couldn’t put our finger on it,” Childres said. “I asked every one of our crew chiefs and engineers, and even our drivers, ‘can you tell me anything where the fourth team took away from us?’ Nobody could say. We just couldn’t save it.”
Because of the lack of sponsorship, Jack Daniels discontinued their relationship with RCR after the 2009 season, Childress has scaled back to three race teams for 2010. RCR also has addressed the problems by investing in new technology, better engineering, and several personel shifts within the organization.
Scott Miller was elevated from crew chief on the #31 CAT Chevy to the team’s director of competition, filing a position that was split between two managers in 2009. Now all the crew chiefs of RCR answer to Miller.
Childress says the team made “huge dollar investments on equipment” and also spent to shore up its engineering department. He estimates that more than $3 million was spent building and fine tuning a new fleet after the team started 2009 heading in the wrong direction.
This year, 2010, is a critical year for RCR’s driver lineup. Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton are signed through 2011, however, Kevin Harvick is in the last year of his contract with RCR, hasn’t won a race in three years, and openly was feuding with Childress.
The dissension lessened after the team began making tremendous changes in late summer and Harvick notched a few top ten finishes. Those top tens included a third place finish at Homestead in the finale.
RCR has tried to fill the void of the data gathered by the fourth team last year by forming new technical alliances with TRG Motorsports and Furniture Row Racing, as well as improving its engine partnership with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
Sharing information should help teams adapt to NASCAR’s rule changes that are coming this season. Sharing information is the keystone to a successful race team. There is so much data that needs to be deciphered in such a short amount of time. These days that is what is separating the good teams from the championship teams!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!