Dale Earnhardt-Wrangler deal risky, but paid off big for Richard Childress
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Richard Childress went all in. He wagered everything -- his yesterday, his today and his tomorrow. He bet it on a late-season deal with a driver who was a maverick, and he bet it on nothing more than a sliver of a sponsorship. And at the end of that 1981 season, less than a dozen races after the relationships began, the driver and the sponsor departed. The story could have ended there. Driver gone, sponsor gone and Childress , who had tried to scratch out a living as a racer before going the ownership route, hopelessly broke and perhaps finished with NASCAR. But it didn't. Two years later, both Dale Earnhardt and Wrangler reunited with Childress . The union produced a pair of championships and a slew of wins, and set Childress and Earnhardt on a path of success rarely seen in NASCAR. "I borrowed everything I could on my home; I sold everything I had that I thought I could sell just to run Dale those 10 races," Childress said Wednesday during a celebration at Wrangler's headquarters here in Greensboro. "At the end of it, I was just in debt. I had borrowed money from some folks and everything just to run those 10 races." It's fitting that the celebration of the region's textile community, dubbed Jeansboro Day, took place this week, just as NASCAR's premier series prepares to return to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. Because it was at Talladega in the summer of '81 that all the pieces first came together that would unite Childress , Earnhardt and Wrangler. "I had already talked to Dale at the track earlier that day," Childress said, "and put our deal together." Later, at the long-gone Anniston Inn just east of the track, he met with Phil Holmer of Goodyear, Wrangler officials and Joe Whitlock, who handled Earnhardt's public relations at the time. Earnhardt had won the 1980 title while driving for team owner Rod Osterlund, but when the team was sold mid-season to J.D. Stacy in '81, the driver wanted out. A deal to run the final 11 races of the season was struck, with Childress and Wrangler. By year's end, Earnhardt had managed six top-10 finishes, but the strong runs were offset by mechanical issues and parts breakage. "We ran good, but I knew we didn't have what it took to run him for a championship," Childress said. Dale Earnhardt talks with Richard Childress after the two reunited in 1984. Dale Earnhardt Jr . remembers that season, in particular his father's second start with Childress . "I remember the race at Bristol where you had the accident on pit road that second race that dad drove for you in 1981," Earnhardt Jr. said Wednesday. "I was there. I know that because one of my most favorite photos of me and my father, they basically had these two tires stacked on top of each other and I'm standing in the wheel to get a better perspective to watch the race. I must have been 7 years old. "But Dad is standing with me and we're both watching the rest of the race; the car is in the background too damaged to continue. But my favorite photo of me and my father actually happened that day at Bristol." At the suggestion of Childress , Earnhardt left at the end of the year, taking the Wrangler funding with him to sign with veteran team owner Bud Moore. Childress hired driver Ricky Rudd, and a late deal put Piedmont Airlines on the car and helped stabilize the organization. Wrangler officials, knowing his dire financial situation, had kicked in an extra $50,000 at year's end to help Childress keep his operation upright. "That really helped me going into the following year," Childress said. What would have he done without it? "It's hard to say," he said. "I never look back. I just look ahead and that was one of those deals that helped me look ahead. I don't know where we would have been without it." Before the '84 season began, Childress said Wrangler officials wanted to reunite, with Earnhardt once again driving the No. 3 Chevrolet. The Earnhardt/Moore union had produced just three wins over the course of two years. Childress was more than willing to agree. "I'll never forget Bud told me at Riverside, 'Boy, that boy will break you,'" Childress recalled Moore telling him of Earnhardt. Instead, the pair flourished. A Legacy Continues In 2010, Earnhardt brought the brand back to the race track for a one-off race, winning the XFINITY Series event that summer at Daytona International Speedway . The car, prepared by his own JR Motorsports group, sported the No. 3 and a paint scheme similar to his father's. He continues to serve as a spokesperson for the company, and says it is "amazing" that the relationship has endured for so long. "My father first had Wrangler on the side of his car at the end of the 1980 season; he won the championship with Wrangler on the quarter panel of his car racing at Ontario in 1980 for the final race of the season," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Then he went into 1981 with Wrangler as a full-time sponsor. And we're still working together today. "I'm very proud of that relationship, very proud that it spanned so many years. Typically, relationships just don't last that long. So it says a lot about Wrangler and what they get out of the sport itself; their connection to race fans and the legacy of the Earnhardt family and Richard , everything that Richard and Dad did together."
Newman, Richard Childress Racing announce extension
Ryan Newman and Richard Childress Racing announced Monday that they had agreed on a multi-year contract extension to keep the veteran in the No. 31 Chevrolet. Newman is wrapping up his third full-time season with Childress , and he's notched 12 top-five finishes -- including a fourth-place effort Sunday at Charlotte -- and 40 top-10s during that time span. "Ryan's consistency on the track has been a benefit to our organization and this extension solidifies the future of our racing program," said Richard Childress , Chairman and CEO of RCR. "Ryan proved the first year he was here that we could contend for championships and with this continuation, I believe we can fulfill our commitment to winning races and a championship. Ryan has worked hard to represent many of our partners, especially the primary sponsors Caterpillar, Grainger and WIX Filters, helping them to get the most out of their respective racing programs." While Newman and Childress have not won together, the driver advanced to the Championship 4 in 2014 and raced Kevin Harvick for the win -- and championship -- in the closing laps before finishing second. "I am pleased to continue driving for Richard Childress Racing ," said Newman. "Our goal to win a championship all but turned into a reality during our first year together. I feel like since then, we have some unfinished business to complete. I'm fortunate to have forged a great relationship with my crew chief Luke Lambert, and I very much want to not only help him reach our goal of winning a Cup championship but also getting him his first Cup victory." RCR's three-team lineup also includes Austin Dillon in the No. 3 and Paul Menard in the No. 27. Newman's return likely means Ty Dillon will not drive full time for the Richard Childress Racing contingent in 2017. Previously, Ty Dillon said he planned on being in the Sprint Cup Series full time in 2017. "We've got a lot of options on the table," Dillon said in July at Iowa Speedway . " … I had talks with other teams in the past couple years and had opportunities, but it's always been my dream to drive for RCR and be teammates with my brother."
'Hero' moment for Ty Dillon as Richard Childress makes NASCAR Hall
CONCORD, N.C. -- Richard Childress has many titles to Ty Dillon : Team owner, hunting buddy, grandfather. And now NASCAR Hall of Famer, thanks to a moment that Dillon and his family -- including brother and fellow driver Austin -- weren't expecting Wednesday. "I was actually standing with my mom when I got a text message, 'Congratulations to your grandfather,'" Dillon said on Thursday during a media availability at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "We were like, 'No way!' We weren't even expecting this year. I'm so happy for him." Childress is part of the five-person 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class that was unveiled Wednesday. Joining Childress in the Hall will be Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin , Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons. H. Clay Earles was named the recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. "I think at first, I called him probably five minutes after I found out -- I'm sure he was getting all kinds of calls -- it seemed like it hadn't set in for him yet," Dillon said of his first communication with his grandfather after learning Childress had made the Hall of Fame. "He's a hard worker so he's always thinking about what's going on next. "I saw him this morning (at an appearance at Bass Pro Shops). First thing I did was just give him a big hug because I was proud of him. He's very happy today and excited, and it's well-deserved." Childress , 70, began his career as a driver, making his first NASCAR start in 1969, and he went on to score six top-five finishes and 76 top-10 finishes over 12 years and 285 starts. He formed Richard Childress Racing in 1969 and eventually teamed with NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt for six championships. In his storied history as an owner, Childress is the first to have owner championships in all three NASCAR national series, and his 11 driver championships are second all-time. RCR has 212 NASCAR national series victories: 105 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, 76 wins in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and 31 wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The bond Dillon and Childress share is much more than that of your typical grandfather and grandson. "He's my hero and glad that I get to spend time with him not only in our sport but every day at the shop and away from it, when we're hunting and hanging out with family," Dillon said. RCR currently fields Chevrolets for three full-time teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ( Austin Dillon in the No. 3, Paul Menard in the No. 27 and Ryan Newman in the No. 31) and four full-time teams in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (Menard/Dillon primarily in the No. 2, Ty Dillon in the No. 3, Brandon Jones in the No. 33 and Brendan Gaughan in the No. 62). "He's such a focused individual about making this race team great again." Ty Dillon said. "I think this is a moment that is going to be big for him for feeling like he's finally made it. He's the first one at the shop every single day and the last one to leave. Working hard like he did way back when he had a $20 race car. I think it's finally a moment for him to sit back and realize what he's accomplished and hopefully it continues to set in for the rest of the week."
Richard Childress Racing
The history of Richard Childress Racing and full crews for Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon
Richard Childress Racing cars have parts confiscated
Richard Childress Racing 's three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars had trouble in pre-race inspection Sunday. After multiple trips through the line, NASCAR pulled the Nos. 3 of Austin Dillon , 27 of Paul Menard and 31 of Ryan Newman out of inspection and confiscated the braces in the right rear corners of their respective vehicles. According to NASCAR, the parts in question were optional braces (brackets) in the rear-wheel area of the cars. NASCAR officials had them removed and will take the parts back to the R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. No penalties -- such as a loss of starting position -- are expected today or post-event, according to NASCAR. Mike Dillon, general manager of Richard Childress Racing , said the team didn't replace the parts due to time. For the race, Dillon finished 11th, while Menard finished 18th and Newman finished 24th. Kenny Bruce contributed to this story from Atlanta
Buescher prepares for move to JTG Daugherty Racing
RELATED: Drivers on the move for '17 " Final standing s NASCAR premier series driver Chris Buescher says he remains under contract with Roush Fenway Racing , but for the second consecutive season the Prosper, Texas native will drive for a team other than RFR when 2017 arrives. The end of November brought with it confirmation that the 24-year-old will compete full-time in a new, second entry to be fielded by JTG Daugherty Racing for the upcoming year. JTG Daugherty had one full-time team with driver AJ Allmendinger in the No. 47 Chevrolet in 2016. Buescher, the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion, spent '16 driving the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports where he earned his first premier series win in the weather-shortened Pocono event and made the 16-team Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Heady stuff for a rookie. RELATED: Buescher wins at Pocono "It was pretty incredible," Buescher said of his season with Front Row and crew chief Bob Osborne. "I'm just so proud of Front Row Motorsports and the No. 34 team for what we were able to accomplish … to get that first win and have a lot of good runs along the way, be competitive at different types of tracks was a blast. "Unfortunately we didn't perform as well in the Chase as we would have liked … (but) I learned a lot along the way." Buescher's victory came at Pocono Raceway in August. It was his 27th career start. Having his 2017 plans in place eases much concern but Buescher, 16th in points for 2016, said there are "still a lot of moving pieces floating around." Some are comparable to what he faced heading into this past season when he transitioned from the XFINITY Series; others are entirely different. "It's actually really similar to this year with Front Row," Buescher said of the situation with JTG Daugherty. "This year with Front Row was a loan as well. It was a little bit easier with the (technical) alliance that Front Row and Roush have with the manufacturer (Ford) being the same." However, JTG Daugherty Racing fields Chevrolet entries and enjoys a technical alliance with the three-team Richard Childress Racing organization. RCR provides engines through Earnhardt- Childress Racing as well as engineering support. "There are some unknowns to work through," Buescher said. "But I'm still under contract with Roush Fenway." Team personnel and other aspects of the new entity have yet to be announced. Cars won't be on the track for competition until February. Until then, Buescher said he will be looking over notes from the previous season in an attempt to better understand what worked, what didn't, and why. "That's pretty much the bulk of what we can do (for) next season … as we kind of wait out the calm before the storm," he said. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
McDowell's Darlington look to honor Childress
Photos courtesy of Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing and Richard Childress Racing RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes WELCOME, N.C. -- Michael McDowell and the Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing organization will honor Richard Childress with a throwback paint scheme similar to that used by the longtime NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner during the 1973 racing season. The scheme will be run during this year's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 4 (6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Darlington throwback program debuted last year and was a huge hit among fans and teams at the legendary track. "Obviously to run Richard's paint scheme and honor him for his upcoming Hall of Fame induction and our alliance with him and having Thrivent Financial on there is going to be really cool," McDowell said. "It's an exciting weekend. It's fun to see all the guys in all the old shirts and hats. I saw my firesuit, it's really cool, very vintage." Childress , a six-time champion in the Sprint Cup Series as an owner with driver Dale Earnhardt, will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January 2017. His Richard Childress Racing organization currently has 105 wins in the series and fields three full-time Sprint Cup teams for drivers Austin Dillon , Paul Menard and Ryan Newman . CSLFR currently has a technical alliance with RCR. While the 1973 Chevrolet was primarily white with blue accents, Childress , an owner/driver before stepping aside to focus solely on ownership, did compete with a similar entry that had red features. And those colors, team officials said, worked well with primary sponsor Thrivent Financial. McDowell, with 197 career starts in the Sprint Cup Series, shares driving duties in the No. 95 Chevrolet with RCR XFINITY Series driver Ty Dillon . He said he is looking forward to running the throwback scheme and seeing what other teams come up with for the event. "I think more than anything what the Darlington race weekend does ... it jogs everyone's memory," McDowell said. "The guys in the sport like Richard and others that have been here so long. Just walking around and listening to all the stories is really cool. I think that's what Darlington does for everybody, it makes them reminisce not just about the good ol' days but hearing fun stories and sharing memories. "It kind of re-ignites your passion of how you got started and why you got started." Childress began his NASCAR career in 1969 and made 285 starts before stepping out of the car in 1981. Long before teams began wrapping cars, Childress said he often painted his own entries, a process that often took "a couple of days." "I'd paint them myself. I'd tape it out like I thought I wanted it, and if I didn't like it, I'd move the tape a little bit," he said. "I still remember all the cars. You might forget about it for a while but then you see something and it brings it all back. "I never accomplished that much as a driver so to see them come back today (with this scheme), it's really neat. I had one of my best finishes at Darlington (fourth in '73). To see it run again is so cool." &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Childress , Ganassi feted at Motorsports Hall
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- One inductee has won six NASCAR premier series titles as an owner. The other has won just about everything else. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owners Richard Childress and Chip Ganassi were among this year's seven-member class inducted into the 2016 Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on Wednesday evening. For Childress , the ride to the Shores Resort & Spa, site of the induction ceremony, brought back memories. "I passed by Nova Road and got to thinking," the team owner said. "I remember I came down here in 1965 (working as a crewman) and we pitched a tent and camped there in a campground off Nova. "Four years later, in 1969, I came down here and we had six people and a four-person camper. So a couple had to sleep outside on the ground. "And now here tonight, to be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, it's just unbelievable." Childress made 285 starts as a driver in NASCAR, and although he failed to win a race, he finished in the top 10 in points five times during his 12-year driving career. Teamed with driver Dale Earnhardt, however, his Richard Childress Racing organization was nearly unbeatable from 1986-95, scoring six championships and 53 wins while finishing first or second in points eight times. Childress will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January of 2017, an honor he said he never imagined. Likewise, his selection into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America was unexpected. "I was just telling Rusty (Wallace), going up to Detroit when they put Dale in, man you just saw all the greats of motorsports," he said. "To be put in this hall of fame is pretty special. In the NASCAR world, it doesn't get any bigger than to be chosen to go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. But in the motorsports world, this is the top." Earnhardt, a member of the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class, was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2002. Ganassi, a team owner in NASCAR since 2001, has yet to see one of his drivers capture the premier series title, although they have won some of the series' biggest events, including the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. Ganassi's teams have excelled elsewhere as well. He is the only team owner to win the Daytona 500 , Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and Rolex 24 at Daytona. Now he can also add a Le Mans title to the list. His Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team recently captured the iconic 24-hour endurance race one year after the automaker announced its return to the annual event and 50 years to the day after Ford won its first Le Mans crown. Aside from a NASCAR title, are there other worlds for the owner to capture? "I'm sure I could think of something," Ganassi said Wednesday night. "I've won some big races, sure. I've just been lucky. I've been lucky to be around great drivers and great people in my career. I just want to win. I want to win this weekend. I want to win the next race." Ganassi was still basking in the glow of the Le Mans victory, accepting congratulations from many of those on hand Wednesday evening. "We were over there … and we were learning new rules like drinking from a firehose," Ganassi said. "We raced hard and at the end of the day we were first, third and fourth and all I can say is it was one of the most exciting weeks of my life. … "We go to victory circle and we're shooting champagne, having a good time and you look out and there's 100,000 people there on the frontstretch just standing there cheering at you. "They raise the American flag behind you and they play the national anthem. And I tell you, that really hits you in your stomach. When you're in a foreign land and they play the national anthem for you, that's a big thing, I can tell you. That's something in sports that's not to be taken lightly." His induction into the Motorsports Hall of Fame is special, he said, because "your heroes, guys you grew up emulating, are all in this thing. "I'll tell you what a big deal it is," he said. "When you go to lunch and Craig Breedlove wants to get his picture taken with you and I wanted my picture taken with him. I'm thinking, 'Man, this is a big thing.' " Breedlove, who set numerous land speed world records, was inducted into the Hall in 1993. "It's just great to get to see and meet all those guys," Ganassi said. "And I'm shocked that they know me. They say, 'Hey, congratulations,' when I'm trying to introduce myself and they go 'I know who you are.' It's kind of dumbfounding." In addition to Childress and Ganassi, others inductees were Everett Brashear (Motorcycles), Gary Gabelich (At Large), Dave McClelland (Drag Racing), Sam Posey (Sports Cars) and Bob Sweikert (Historic). The event kicked off the Hall's move from its previous location in Novi, Mich., to the grounds of Daytona International Speedway .
Richard Childress Racing 2016 Team Preview
Richard Childress Racing drivers Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon discuss what it takes to prepare for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Richard Childress Racing pit crew coach steps down
Eric Wilson stepped down as head coach of Richard Childress Racing 's pit crews, effective immediately, PitTalks.com has learned. Wilson took over the coaching job three years ago, replacing Matt Clark. Wilson's plans are unclear at this time, but what is clear is Ray Wright will be the new coach. Wright has been the strength-and-conditioning coach for the past seven years. Wright was also the rear tire carrier for the No. 27 Chevrolet SS of Paul Menard . Taking his place over the wall will be Adam Mestemacher. As far as the strength-conditioning role, Tyler Rader will likely take over the void for the foreseeable future. Rader also fuels the No. 3 Chevrolet SS of Austin Dillon for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. RCR officials declined comment. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com .