Volume III, Issue 5, Page 23
With John Carollo

I’m one of you. Long before my first article or big name interview and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been a stock car fan. So for that reason, my name doesn’t matter and neither does my photo. It’s more like we’re just sitting here in the grandstand before the race, talking about Chevys and NASCAR. Hey, you want a cold one? --JC

RCR is BACK!!!

About a thousand years ago, teams went to the tracks wondering who all was going to finish second. That’s just about how strong the late Dale Earnhardt ran them Richard Childress Racing (RCR) Chevys. Naturally, the Ford guys were pissed and went all Wa-Wa to the NASCAR trailer. And those were the days when Dodges were MIA – kinda like they are today-- in Victory Lane. But that’s another story. Back then, Hendrick was just kinda getting going so the top Chevy team was RCR. If you look at the results and how they all played out in those days, that #3 looked like Superman on four wheels. Yep, they were that dang good.

But, if truth be told, the cars Dale drove for RCR were nothing special. Sure, they were good solid racin’ cars, prepped by good, solid folks that knew their job. And that job was to put a good car under the butt of Earnhardt and, well, he would do the rest. And he did. They didn’t have an unending supply of trick stuff to throw at the chassis. They didn’t have monster motors. And they sure as Hell didn’t have a staff of 50 engineers.

 RCR built their own chassis and were one of the first to do so. But just building their own didn’t mean they were trick. All they had to do was fit the driving style of ol’ Ironhead. And they didn’t have motors with zillions of horsepower. Actually, their motors were often average and it wasn’t until late in Earnhardt’s career that they got to be more powerful. That’s cuz he didn’t need ‘em to be more powerful. In those days, RCR worked on a simple premise: Get the car close and Dale would bring it on home. And he did. Between bias tires and Monte Carlos from the ‘80s and ‘90s, RCR brought home six Winston Cup titles. Yeah, there was a Lumina or two in there, too.

Then the youth movement came in and between that and radial Goodyears, ol’ Earnhardt had to step up his game. And he did. Then came along the idea of multiple teams and folks like Hendrick learned how to make that work. RCR tried it, stumbled a bit but latched on to the concept, too. Then Dale went and got himself killed. Then, the entire landscape of NASCAR racing changed a ton. Cars, crew chiefs, drivers, the boys back at the shops – crash, boom and everything changed after that.

It was kinda like the ‘80s when the King, Richard Petty, retired with his 200 wins and had nowhere near the power he had in the ‘60s and ‘70s. But, ya see, that’s racing. If’n you don’t like who’s winning, stick around and someone else will stroll on up and take the point. But back to RCR.

Yeah, they got Happy Harvick in the car and he won pretty quick. But then they started really struggling. And for a good three, four years, too. When they brought in Jeff Burton, he kinda tipped us when he said something like, ‘I didn’t forget how to drive.’ Yep, it was evident the RCR cars had some catching up to do

And that brings us to today. If’n you ain’t noticed, the three RCR cars are firmly holding their spots in not only the top ten but the top FIVE of the points. In fact, they started the year off being in the same neighborhood, too. If this comes as a surprise to you, you ain’t been watching enuf NASCAR. RCR cars have been sneaking up on the top ten for the past two, three years. Every now and then one of them would win (usually Harvick or Burton) and that would pad the points. Now, we got their new guy, Clint, taking home the gold, too, and that’s cool.

So what torched their collective butts this year? Well, in the motivation area, they done got sick of having Hendrick rubbed in their faces and started burning the midnight oil on the new car (Richard Childress calls it the Impala, not the COT). When they looked over what that car was gonna bring ‘em, they went to work. And you can plainly see the results. And all this work didn’t just come about in the last six months, either. It takes an overall business plan to get these kinda results. I’m thinking RC saw the new car, flashed back on the old days and came up with a plan. ‘Member, one of the goals of NASCAR for their new car was to give more drivability back to the driver. Ya see, the cars done gone all techno on us, getting outrageous amounts of downforce to help speeds and lap times. Well, as they proved in Indy cars, when you do that, you cut back and sometimes even take away the driver’s input.

Think of it like the go kart track down the street. Karts have no suspension, they run governors to keep the speed down and the tires are about as hard as my head. But every time you go there, you see one or two guys that just drive on by you. They are using driving skill to override the limitations of the kart, dig? And it’s like that in big time NASCAR racin’. But when you have 40 or so of the best drivers in the world driving cars they know well, they tend to all be equal. So the advantages are in the power in handling and the engineers seek out small advantages that will add up to big ‘uns.

Well, with RC’s experience in cars that require more driving, he done had the best driver so he knows how to give those drivers the cars they need to get the job done. And that, boys and girls, is why the RCR cars are running so damn good. 


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