Charlotte, NC – Richard Childress Racing will come back with the same drivers in 2015. Sprint Cup runner up Ryan Newman in the No. 31 Chevrolet, Paul Menard in the No. 27 Chevrolet, and Austin Dillon in the No. 3 Chevrolet. Newman said the second place season almost didn’t happen.
“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.
“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.”
Nothing has changed on his team, so Newman is looking to make the No. 31 even better. Last year was the first year in four that he didn’t win a race.
“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.”
Austin Dillon went through his rookie year with some success and some disappointments, but thinks he will use the experience to have a better sophomore season. Battling side-by-side with Kyle Larson for the rookie title all season, he came up short, but no one could say he didn’t have a successful rookie season.
“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.”
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 package 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.”
RCR owner Richard Childress announced that Wix Filters had re-upped with the organization and Grainger will join the No. 31 Chevrolet with Ryan Newman.