Day two of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Sprint was Chevrolet Day. The NASCAR media met with Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Furniture Row Racing, and Hendrick Motorsports. First was Chip Ganassi Racing, newly renamed for this season. It was formerly known as Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing.
Ganassi was impressed with the way the season ended for the team, with Jamie McMurray winning at Talladega, and hopeful with the addition of Kyle Larson to the team, replacing Juan Pablo Montoya in 2014, but the most glowing report came from Felix Sabates who owns part of the team with Ganassi.
“I watched this driver for a long time and I believe that he has what it takes to be very successful in this sport,” Sabates said. “Change makes things more interesting and change is inevitable. This kid will be great.”
Larson, who admitted that most things don’t excite him too much, was quite reserved about 2014.
“I don’t think too much is being expected of me,” Larson said. “I think you can look at other rookies and you can see what the story is. I think they expect me to be like any other rookie.”
Richard Childress Racing entered the auditorium minus the owner at first. An accident on the road to the Charlotte Convention Center delayed him, but he got there late, knowing full well that his lectures to grandsons Ty and Austin about being on time would lead to some good-natured ribbing by the two drivers.
RCR will have new sponsors for 2014, including Dow (Austin Dillon, No. 3), Yuengling Light (Ty Dillon, No. 3 in the truck series), and WIX Filters (company wide). It was also announced that Lucas Oil would become the official oil of Richard Childress Racing.
Paul Menard stated that he was looking forward to 2014.
“I’m really anxious to work with Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman,” Menard said. Menard is the senior member of the Cup group now, with Newman coming over from Stewart-Haas Racing this year. “We hired two new engineers and that should help a lot.”
Newman felt like he was in the best position of his life with RCR, and it felt good to be with an established team.
“When I started with Penske, it was a startup team and then I went to Stewart-Haas, and it was a startup team. It’s good to be with an established team.”
Austin Dillon will be making his first start in the famed No. 3 Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway in three weeks. Dillon has already turned the fastest lap among his peers in practice there, and he knows that making “3 Fans” proud, with the car’s reputation means the whole team will have to be on its toes.
“Things have been great,” Dillon said. “But I’m most excited with the group they put around me. I’m looking forward to learning from Ryan and Paul.”
Brendan Gaughan will move from the truck series to the Nationwide Series with Ty Dillon. He will keep the No. 62—the same number he used in the truck series. Gaughan praised the RCR marketing department and said that very few unsponsored races are on the schedule for the team. “I teamed with Ty last year in the truck series and now I’m teaming with him in the Nationwide Series. It’s great. Who could ask for more?”
Team Owner Richard Childress called 2014 the most exciting year he could ever remember.
“We’ve brought in new engineers and feel like this is our best shot in years to win consistently,” Childress said. Then, he was asked about the No. 3.
“It’s important that Austin run well, but we saw Austin and Ty in the 3 car or truck the last few years. The decision was made more thane 14 years ago before Dale got killed. We talked to Dale about retirement and what to do with the car and number when he did quit. We agreed not to put anyone in the car unless they were ready and we agreed it would be an Earnhardt or a member of my family. That happened a long time ago.”
When asked about the new qualifying rules, Newman said it would get most interesting when the cars got to Daytona the second time. Menard still had questions about the new procedure. “It’s going to be a learning process for everyone,” Menard said.