One of NASCAR’s most storied teams is shrinking by one car for the 2018 Cup Series season.
Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman are back in the No. 3 and 31, respectively, for Richard Childress Racing in 2018. The fate of the No. 27 Chevrolet formerly driven by Paul Menard — who joined Wood Brothers Racing during the offseason — has been an ongoing mystery, but one that has just been solved.
As reported by ESPN’s Bob Pockrass, Richard Childress Racing will be a two-car team at the Cup Series level in 2018. That implies that the 27 charter will be leased or sold to another organization, but there has been no announcement yet on that front.
What Dillon reminded the media this week is that he has additional pseudo-teammates for information exchange purposes, as RCR has technical alliances for 2018 with Richard Petty Motorsports and Leavine Family Racing. That puts Bubba Wallace and Kasey Kahne under the larger Childress umbrella, and when you add in whoever drives the No. 7 after Danica Patrick races it at Daytona, Dillon and Newman won’t be lacking for data or additional opinions.
It’s also not lost on Dillon that some two-car teams have won plenty of races in recent NASCAR seasons, including the Furniture Row group that turned Martin Truex Jr. into a champion in 2017.
"“I see a lot of two car teams being very successful. The Furniture Row team is going back to one car, and they were a two-car team last year and won a championship. So I’m really positive about that. I think that was one of the key things. It’s nice to be able to focus on two cars.”"
Still, it’s a bit of a culture shock for fans to think of RCR as a two-car operation when it once was one of the larger and more powerful teams in the garage. Its slow decline in the Chevy pecking order, where it is now way behind Hendrick Motorsports and arguably Chip Ganassi Racing, is similar though perhaps not as pronounced as the way Roush Fenway Racing has declined among Ford teams. Childress did get both Dillon and Newman in the playoffs in 2017, but neither driver was much of a factor once they began.
Could that change without the 27 to worry about? Dillon seems to think so, and all it will take is another win or two by him or Newman to prove it was the right call to shrink RCR.