With three races complete this NASCAR season, Richard Childress Racing continues to be marred by bad luck and mid-pack runs, much like the team was last season. With Kevin Harvick departing for Stewart-Haas Racing at seasons end and both Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon progressing well in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series, respectively.
Certainly Richard Childress Racing is in a period of transition with regards to drivers, but the team itself has found stability with Kevin Harvick being the main driver since the death of Dale Earnhardt, and prospered during the first few years of the chase, having all of its drivers qualify for NASCAR’s playoff series multiple times.
The past few years have been bleak on the track, although sponsorship and personnel wise the team has been preparing for resurgence. It appeared that resurgence would arrive in 2014 with Austin Dillon, but instead may have begun with Paul Menard and his 2013 campaign.
Menard may be an unknown name on the track, but has solidified himself as a serious contender. The former driver for Dale Earnhardt Inc. struggled in subpar equipment during his first few years, and received much criticism from race fans because his sponsor was also his father’s business.
Since his arrival at Richard Childress Racing though, Menard has seen more consistent results and even broke into victory lane in 2011 at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 2012, Menard finished in the top ten in a quarter of the races, and was a dark horse contender for the chase.
This season, despite only having one top ten, Menard finds himself twelfth in points, and on the verge of his first chase berth. 2012 was a successful year for Menard at both iterations of Bristol Motor Speedway, as he had two top-ten finishes at the half mile track.
With veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe on top of the pit box and the rest of the Sprint Cup field scrambling, Paul Menard qualified fifth for Sunday’s race at Bristol. Expect a solid run out of the 27 car for Richard Childress Racing this Sunday.
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