Daytona International Speedway held the first ever DAYTONA Rising Escalator Duel. NASCAR driver, Austin Dillon, and his NASCAR team owner, Richard Childress , raced to the top of the new 150-foot grandstand using stairs and escalators.
Richard Childress Racing driver finished second in 2014's final standings Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- His team "stepped up" in 2014 and Ryan Newman said Thursday that he sees no reason the Richard Childress Racing No. 31 team can't continue to not only improve, but challenge for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. "There was a point right around May when we got caught looking in the wrong direction and just were behind," Newman said during the fourth and final day of this year's Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom. "They did an awesome job of continually stepping up, bringing better and more competitive pieces to the race track. Everyone at RCR stepped up. … It was an awesome thing to be a part of." While he did not win a race in '14, thus ending a four-year run of making the trip to Victory Lane once each season, consistency throughout the bulk of the year helped Newman qualify for the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and he was one of only four drivers to advance into the final, championship-determining round at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Although he came up just short of the title, eventually finishing second to Stewart-Haas Racing ’s Kevin Harvick , the effort further convinced the 37-year-old that the move to RCR prior to the '14 season had been the right one. And the team, led by crew chief Luke Lambert, should only get better. "No reason for it not to," said Newman. "Even though there were no (wins) in the win column, we achieved some amazing things for a first-year organization … no reason we can’t keep that incline going." The potential for success, he said, was there from the beginning, "but I didn't think it would explode the way it did. "I think we all saw gunpowder laying on the floor, but we didn't know who was going to light it, when it was going to light and how much of it was going to go off. I think every bit of it went off, and then some." Changes to the rules package for 2015, the use of new technology to officiate pit road and a lack of testing have raised questions about how the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season will play out. That being the case, Lambert said RCR, as well as teams across the board, will be relying heavily on the in-house tools and technology at their disposal to get a base for the new year. "From what we're seeing, the speeds aren't going to be dramatically different," he said. "We're expecting to see really good racing , but that's what we'll have to wait until Atlanta (where the rules package will first come into play) to see." Having less horsepower and downforce won't exactly be new, Newman said, but instead will be "a return to where we were a few years ago." The difference now, he said, will come from the static ride height rule that was put into play in '14. "Now I think the cars will be more competitive in dirty air whereas they weren't then," Newman said. "They had less downforce but they had (higher) static heights so whenever you got them in dirty air, they wanted to come up and disconnect themselves from the race track. Every comment was 'the car is out of the race track, all four tires aren’t working for me.' I think as we get back to that level of downforce with the static ride height and the amount of underbody downforce, the racing will be … better. "Goodyear still has to provide the ultimate tire for every situation. And that's not easy because those situations can change. …That is a huge task for them, but that's the ultimate answer. "I've always said the tires are the only thing that touches the race track from my car, so it has to be the connecting device to make the racing as great as it can possibly be." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet on second season: 'We need to be in the Chase' Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Around this time last year, Austin Dillon 's blood pressure was rising. The then-defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champion was a few short weeks away from beginning his rookie season in the Sprint Cup Series -- the big leagues -- but even more cold-sweat-inducing was the car number that would be adorned on the side of his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet: NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt's legendary No. 3. With his second season upon him and his rookie stripe removed, Dillon exuded an aura of confidence, put-togetherness and relaxation on Thursday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom -- at least for now. "There's a lot of pressure any time you move to a new series," said Dillon, who immediately backed off the naysayers by winning the Coors Light Pole Award ahead of the 2014 Daytona 500 . "Having the 3, there's so many fans behind it and it was a great year to go through. Nothing crazy happened. This year, I think we've got to start getting crazy. We've got to start making things happen. "When I say that, we need to be in the Chase; we need to be part of the chaos at the end of the year. I want to put more pressure on (myself) and you can more focus on the competition side of things. … People know how we approached that first year; I think we did it right. Now it's time to make fire and go fast." A big part of how Dillon and returning crew chief Gil Martin are trying to improve is in preparation, not only physically -- which he's determined to stay on top of -- but also mentally. "Mentally, it's having more days at the shop. … Knowing what we're going to do when we go through practices so we can be more organized with practices," Dillon said. "We were able to really scramble at certain points through the year and make our cars good when we struggled in practice. I think preparation this year, we want to be ready for those changes. We don't want to be behind where we have to make a long shot or a Hail Mary at something. ... I think that's one thing that I've really told Gil and my guys. I want them to stay on me to stay focused and push me." Dillon mentioned that a number of sponsorship appearances and NASCAR events having to do with the famous car number pulled him away from the health-conscious steps he took last offseason to get ready for his rookie year. He and his team have taken this into consideration, working diligently to keep Dillon and the No. 3 team on a more even-keeled schedule throughout November. It should allow Dillon to maintain his consistency -- his average finish of 17.5 ranked 15th in the series among full-time drivers, ahead of Chase drivers Kyle Busch , Kasey Kahne , Kurt Busch , AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola -- the same consistency that projected Ryan Newman to the Championship 4, 50 yards shy of a title. That consistency also came in the form of completing 10,488 of 10,541 laps (99.5 percent), the second-most in the series. The 24-year-old is also scheduled to run 20 XFINITY Series races in 2015, which he believes will help him figure out the ins-and-outs of his Cup ride. The new technical packages for Sprint Cup cars in 2015 is much more closely aligned with NASCAR's second series than in years past. There's a lot for Dillon to build on for 2015 and a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth is not out of the question. With the initial attention around the No. 3 car's return now mostly a thing of the past, it should allow the RCR driver to stay steady throughout the year and keep his head down. "The good thing is, we had a decent year last year, but when you can find places to improve, and you know where those are, you should be able to take those and make them better," Dillon said. "I think that's what I've been able to do the last couple of years when we go from say, rookie year in Trucks or ( XFINITY ), then second year and you win a championship." "I'm not saying we're going to go out there and win a championship, but that's our goal. I think we can, and what Ryan and Luke (Lambert, No. 31 crew chief) were able to do, I think me and Gil want to accomplish that -- have a shot at the end of the year." MORE: Newman eager to build on last season's gains FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
The history Richard Childress Racing and full crews for Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon
Team owner, Austin Dillon to face off in unique event at World Center of Racing
SHR driver ready for the challenge of defending his title Registration for NASCAR Fantasy Live is now open! CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Turning the well-worn saying on its ear, the head that wears the crown is not heavy for Kevin Harvick , who enters the 2015 season with all sorts of burden removed from his shoulders. The nickname "Happy" still fits, but the description of "relaxed" also seems to apply. Harvick's pressure-free composure, on prime display Tuesday afternoon during the Stewart-Haas Racing portion of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour, has plenty to do with the title of reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion after 13 years of coming up just short. But the lighter load is also equal parts being free of the controlled maelstrom from the offseason a year ago as SHR assembled the parts and pieces that made up the championship-caliber No. 4 team. For the here and now, Harvick was grateful that his first title meant no further questions about whether this would be his year. "The pressure's definitely off," Harvick said. "There's not that pressure of being that guy who was so close to winning championships and had not won one. To be able to accomplish that and take that pressure off is a really good thing because that's really what we wanted to accomplish in coming over to Stewart-Haas Racing . So to be fortunate enough to be able to do that is definitely a sense of relief, and now you've been through it, you understand it, you know the feelings, the emotions and the things that you've been through, and hopefully that leads to that chest full of experience that you carry around with you to just put another tool in that chest to hopefully win more." Making the leap from the familiar turf from Richard Childress Racing , where he spent the first 13 years of his premier-series career, came with some initial gnashing of teeth but his enthusiasm for showing up to work each day had grown stagnant. Joining SHR eventually bore fruit with plenty of rejuvenating qualities, but Harvick first had to prepare himself for the jump in to the unknown. "I didn't want to be comfortable," Harvick said. "I wanted to experience what we experienced last year, and sometimes you have to make some bold or hard decisions in order to make things like this happen. So for me, I'm as comfortable as I've ever been." For starters, Harvick won't have to deal with the same amount of change -- borne of necessity -- that the team had ahead of the 2014 campaign. Partnering a new driver with new crew chief Rodney Childers during a time when the organization was expanding to a four-car operation could have stalled the process of building chemistry on the No. 4 team. It didn't -- the combination produced its first victory in just the second race of the season. With all the parts still in place, it's a combination that team co-owner Gene Haas has no intention of tampering with. "He just won the championship. We've basically frozen the team as it is," Haas said. "So we've got something that works and we're going to treat it very, very delicately and try to repeat that. There's no use tempting fate." One thing out of the organization's control in the change department is the new rules package for 2015. A crucial cog to the No. 4 team's march to the title was how well it adapted to last year's rules package, spearheaded by the work Childers put into making that fateful December 2013 test a smashing success at the Charlotte track. Will the new rules package throw Harvick and Co. a curve ball? In a statement that could have the competition on edge, Childers said the changes might actually benefit the team since something similar to the 2015 package was one of the test configurations that suited the car the most. Even with that institutional knowledge in tow, Childers -- one of the most relaxed workaholics in the garage -- isn't ready to adopt Harvick's pressure-free approach. "I don't really feel that way at all. I mean, I always feel like my job's on the line every single day and either you can go in there and work hard or someone else is going to take your job," Childers said. "I try to be the first one at the shop and the last one to leave, work as hard as I can while I'm there and hopefully that'll constantly pay off as long as the years go on." With one title under his belt, the immediate task ahead of Harvick is focusing on a repeat. The pressure might be off for now, but it certainly wasn't the case during the elimination phases of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, which debuted its new format last year. Harvick responded to the intensity by turning up the wick and winning the last two races of the season to wrap up his first title. His approach might have changed in terms of the pressure, but Harvick said his aggressive nature on the track certainly won't. "It's definitely going to be a challenge, as it is every year, and obviously there's some different rules and everything that comes along with that this year as far as the engine," Harvick said, "but I think the one thing we did learn through the last half of the year is I think everybody figured out that winning a race and being aggressive is the most preferable method in order to win a championship." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Richard Childress Racing will offer technical insight as Germain shifts to Chevrolet in 2014
Richard Childress and Ryan Newman talk about how the 2015 rule changes will impact the car engines.
Will last season's runner-up find Victory Lane in 2015? RELATED: Full schedule of driver previews Team: Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet Rank in final 2014 standings: Second Wins: 0 Year in photos: Recap Newman's 2014 season Strides: Ryan Newman didn't win a race for the first time in five years but his runner-up finish in the Sprint Cup Series championship was a career highlight. In fact, Newman had fewer top-fives [five] and top-10s  than the previous season yet his consistency and perseverance landed him a shot at the big trophy. He had six top-10s in the 10 Chase races, counting an 18th-place result as his worst finish in that span. A dramatic runner-up finish to Kevin Harvick in the Homestead season finale meant he fell a mere 1-point shy from claiming his first Sprint Cup championship. Setbacks: Newman was NASCAR's poster child for the power of consistency in a season when wins were everything. Still, Newman realizes the necessity for a trip to Victory Lane. His runner-up finish at Homestead was as close as he came to winning in his first year with RCR and the team will need to raise the bar in 2015. Considering what they accomplished without hoisting any hardware, a victory could be the championship difference for the 13-year veteran. Quoteworthy: "It's like caramel corn, I guess. It's a little bit salty and a little bit sweet," -- Newman said of championship runner-up effort in 2014. What's Next: Arguably, Newman went about his championship bid the hard way – relying on consistency and good points days instead of advancing via victory. A numbers guy and with an engineering degree from Purdue University, Newman was able to earn his shot at a title the old-fashioned way -- math. But let's not forget Newman knows how to win and is a former Daytona 500 (2008) and Brickyard 400 (2013) winner; however his lowly 41 laps led in 2014 could be improved upon and the security of an notching an early-season win would go a long way toward easing another championship run. "We all want to win and winning means a lot in a number of facets. … but in the end, the math was there [for us]," Newman said after the season. "I'm happy with what we achieved. I'm disappointed by how close we were but if we were one point, two points or 20 points it wouldn't have mattered. You want to finish first. But we have the ability and the opportunity to try again next year." Certainly good chemistry between Newman and crew chief Luke Lambert contributed to the immediate success in his first year with the team and that bodes well for the future too. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Team hires Mark McArdle and Kevin Kidd to senior positions RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Seeking to bolster its Sprint Cup Series performance in 2015, Roush Fenway Racing announced the hirings of Mark McArdle and Kevin Kidd to senior competition positions with the organization. McArdle will oversee engineering for the organization's Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series teams as the team's engineering director, while Kidd will serve as the Sprint Cup Series team manager, supervising at-track operations. Kidd will move into his new role at the conclusion of the 2014 season. "I'm confident that having Mark and Kevin in two key positions will make our organization even stronger next season," team co-owner Jack Roush said in a team release. "Mark has a pedigree in racing that spans multiple platforms and speaks for itself in terms of results. He has a reputation not only for success, but as a great manager and motivator. "Kevin is recognized in the garage area as one of the brightest minds in our sport," Roush said. "He has acquired invaluable experience working with both veteran and drivers, and will be a great asset to our Sprint Cup program week in and week out at the race track. We look forward to bringing both Mark and Kevin on board and welcoming them into the fold." McArdle has spent the past 15 years working in NASCAR, most recently working as the director of racing operation at Richard Childress Racing . He is also known for his work in the IndyCar circuit and as an engine builder. He boasts three victories in the Indianapolis 500 with Penske Racing in 1991, 1993 and 1994. Kidd has served as the crew chief for Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 20 Nationwide Series car since 2010. In that time, he has three wins atop the pit box. Roush Fenway's race teams will look a little different next season as previously announced. On the Sprint Cup side, Trevor Bayne will make the move to a full-time Cup ride with the No. 6 car, while Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr . will remain in the No. 16 and No. 17 cars respectively. In the XFINITY Series, Ryan Reed (No. 16) and Chris Buescher (No. 60) will be joined by veteran driver Elliott Sadler , who will pilot the No. 1 Ford. Sadler's move was announced last weekend. Roush Fenway has one driver left in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in Carl Edwards , who is heading to Joe Gibbs Racing next season. Edwards is currently sixth in the standings but just one point out of the final transfer spot to the Championship Round heading into Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Phoenix International Raceway . MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule