RCR Teams Searching for a Turnaround

By Andrew

Richard Childress Racing teams were expected to be championship contenders during the 2012 season. Thus far, none of the RCR teams have shown the ability to be champions this season as only one team, the 29 of Kevin Harvick, even have a chance to be in the Chase. But that doesn’t mean the organization isn’t trying to fix its problems to be better as the season winds down and put themselves into contention for some wins and maybe even a championship with Harvick.

Richard Childress Racing driver Kevin Harvick
Photo – RCR

Harvick is currently 8th in the standings with nine top-tens but just three top-five finishes. While he does have a legitimate chance to be in the chase, certainly performance must improve and the team must find a way to win races. In an effort to help boost the 29 team moving into the chase, the team has reunited Harvick with veteran crew chief Gil Martin, replacing Shane Wilson atop the pit box. The duo has had success in the past and the team certainly hopes that translates to better performances moving ahead. This is one change that may be the start of many to help right the ship with the 29 team.

 

RCR driver Paul Menard with CC Slugger Labbe

Photo – RCR

RCR’s other two Cup teams have been even more disappointing. Paul Menard, who came off his best career season in 2011, is currently 15th in points with 5 top 10 finishes. This team is also winless and would need to see significant improvement if they were to make the Chase, which  at this point, is very unlikely. This is a team that expected to be even stronger with Slugger Labbe returning atop the pit box for 2012, but it just hasn’t materialized. Menard’s strong suit has typically been intermediate tracks and the road courses, but RCR’s intermediate program has been the Achilles Heel in 2012, which is a big reason for Menard’s struggles. On a good note, however, Menard is coming off a top-ten at Michigan last weekend which may give the team something to build upon moving forward.

 

RCR driver Jeff Burton with CC Drew Blickensderfer

Photo – RCR

RCR’s 31 team with Jeff Burton is in even worse shape for making the Chase sitting 20th in points with only four top-tens and two top-fives. This is a team that made many changes over the offseason in an effort to be strong for 2012. Drew Blickensderfer was brought in as crew chief and looked to lead the 31 team back into contention and build off the late 2011 season momentum it had under crew chief Luke Lambert. However, not long after the season started, it became apparent the team was in trouble, suffering from many mechanical problems as well as poor performances, especially on intermediate tracks. It remains to be seen if changes will occur for the 31 team in the future. 

So what is ailing RCR? It seems to be not just one thing but rather multiple issues plaguing the team that are preventing the cars from handling well or having the speed necessary to compete near the front of the field. Only continued work back in the shop will help get the Cup program back up to par and you can bet the team is working hard on that. RCR, after all, is having successful seasons in the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series, so they know how to provide fast equipment on the track. It just hasn’t translated into the Cup Series for 2012 but this is an organization that will undoubtedly do what it takes to get back to the front.

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