Nearly two decades have passed since Richard Childress Racing won its last championship with Dale Earnhardt in 1994. Over 19 years, drivers from five different teams – Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Penske Racing – have claimed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles.
Yet RCR remains relevant, winning 47 races from 1995 through Sunday when Kevin Harvick captured his second Coca-Cola 600. Harvick’s victory was RCR’s 103rd in NASCAR’s premier series.
Still, it’s been a long drought championship-wise for Childress, who shared six titles with NASCAR Hall of Famer Earnhardt and is himself a nominee for the Hall of Fame enshrinement. The team’s championship “bests” since then have been thirds by Harvick in 2010-11 and Jeff Burton in 2006.
Harvick, a two-time winner in 2013, ranks seventh in NASCAR Sprint Cup standings entering Sunday’s FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks (FOX, MRN Radio, SIRIUSXM Radio, 1 p.m. EDT). Teammate Paul Menard, unheralded prior to the campaign’s beginning, is a surprising eighth.
“I honestly think RCR is ready to contend for the championship this year,” said Childress. “We have Kevin and Paul up there. We’re getting better. (Director of Competition) Eric Warren has come along and put together a great group of people. Our engine shop keeps getting better and better.”
Harvick is in his final year with RCR – having been promoted to the No. 29 Chevrolet following Earnhardt’s death in the 2001 Daytona 500 – but neither owner nor driver believe his “lame duck” status is a negative. “In a business world, things happen; changes happen,” Childress said. “I wish him the best of luck at the end of the year but right now we have got a job in front of us.”
Harvick said he will give the organization 100% as long as he’s an RCR employee. “It’s too important to the people that put in hours and hours and hours; the people that put in millions and millions of dollars (to do otherwise),” he said.
Harvick has yet to win at Dover. His best finish, second, came last spring. Menard, 17th a year ago, has a single top-10 finish (seventh) with Richard Petty Motorsports. Burton posted the most recent of RCR’s four Dover wins in 2006. Earnhardt won three Dover races.
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