By admin | November 15, 2012
By Richard Allen
What’s going on at Richard Childress Racing? The organization, which is considered one of the major players in NASCAR racing, is in the midst of some serious turnover as three drivers will be departing from the fold in the near future. Most notable of which is Sprint Cup star Kevin Harvick.
Last weekend in Phoenix it was reported by ESPN’s Marty Smith that Harvick has agreed to join Stewart-Haas Racing after the 2013 season. He joins Elliott Sadler and Joey Coulter who will leave RCR’s Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series teams respectively at the end of this season. Each of these drivers are apparently leaving of their own accord.
Sadler is rumored to be headed for the Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide program while Coulter is on his way to the Kyle Busch Motorsports truck team.
And don’t forget, Clint Bowyer left RCR after the 2011 season for Michael Waltrip Racing when sponsorship could not be secured to keep him in place. However, as time passed after the driver’s departure, conjecture had it that energy supplement ‘5 Hour Energy’ might have been willing to support him had he stayed with RCR but he chose to leave on his own.
So why all these departures?
The argument might be raised that the team’s performance has dropped off. However, Harvick did win the most recent Sprint Cup race in Phoenix. But, that was RCR’s first win this season at NASCAR’s highest level. Harvick was the only driver in the organization’s stable to qualify for the Chase for the Championship.
Some trace the company’s recent struggles to the loss of competition director Scott Miller who left RCR last season to work for Michael Waltrip Racing. Of course, it must also be considered that NASCAR racing is one of the most cyclical businesses around. RCR’s lack of success of late could merely be a matter of being in the midst of a temporary down turn.
One question that has to be asked with all the turnover taking place is whether or not the presence of team owner Richard Childress’ grandsons has caused discord within the team. Austin Dillon curently races in the Nationwide Series for RCR while Ty Dillon pilots an RCR truck in the Camping World Series.
While the organization’s Sprint Cup teams have struggled, their lower division teams where the Dillons race have done well. Sadler and Austin Dillon have won races and remained in contention for the series title throughout the season. And further, Coulter and Ty Dillon have also won races and were in championship contention for much of the year in that series.
Could it be that other drivers feel as though the organization is gearing itself to make the owner’s grandsons the centerpieces of their efforts and thus are choosing to leave rather than play second fiddle?
And more than drivers leaving, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing recently announced that it will forsake the Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines program for power plants from Hendrick Motorsports next season. That, of course, brings up a whole new question as one has to wonder exactly where RCR fits in with longtime manufacturer Chevrolet as HMS further increases its position with the auto maker.
Is what’s happening at Richard Childress Racing simply a brief slump that could be turned around by the right people? Or, is there a deeper issue in which some insiders have come to realize their place within the organization has been jeopardized by the rise of the Dillon brothers?
Whatever the case, RCR is experiencing some rather rapid turnover. The future of one of NASCAR’s most historic organizations seems somewhat clouded.
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