Austin Dillon blunt about long RCR winless streak in Cup: ‘It sucks’
Austin Dillon doesn’t sugarcoat it when asked about a Richard Childress Racing winless streak that now has reached 327 starts across 109 races and three-plus NASCAR Premier Series seasons.
“It sucks. No one likes to go winless,” said Dillon, who drives the No. 3 RCR Chevrolet. “We want to wipe that out as soon as possible.”
Dillon and his RCR teammates will get their first chance to do so Feb. 26 in the 59th Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway (live on FOX).
Dillon said recently that his grandfather’s induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which occurred in January, could be just what the company bearing Richard Childress’ name needs for motivation.
“I think what was good for our entire company was going to the Hall of Fame induction with my grandfather,” Dillon said. “It lights a fire in all our employees, myself included. Any kind of effort we can do to not let any stone go unturned, to try to find any bit of speed, we’re going to do it.”
Dillon is coming off his most successful season in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Although he did not win a race in 2016, his third full-time Cup season, he did win poles at Auto Club Speedway in the spring and at Texas in the fall. He also made NASCAR’s playoffs for the first time on the strength of a career-high four top-five and 13 top-10 finishes.
He said he thinks this year’s new format that breaks NASCAR’s races into three stages may prove helpful to him and his RCR teammates, Ryan Newman and Paul Menard.
“Last year, making the Chase (playoffs) and now we have a playoff format with bonus points that are going to mean a lot, so speed is something we’re going to have to rely on more,” Dillon said. “We were kind of a points-chasing organization the last couple of years. Myself and Newman did a good job of getting into the Chase and making a name for ourselves by getting through each round.
“But now we’re going to have to show speed early and often for these segments, and the strategy that goes into that will play a lot of it. We’ve got our organization headed in the right direction. I’m excited and there is a lot to be excited for. We had speed at the end of the year.”
A RCR car has not pulled into Victory Lane after Cup race since Kevin Harvick won at Phoenix in the fall of 2013. Harvick left the organization at the end of that season and won the 2014 Cup champoionship while driving for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Since that RCR win at Phoenix, a total of four different Childress drivers have combined to make 327 starts across 109 Cup races without recording another win.
The last driver not named Harvick to win for RCR was Clint Bowyer at Talladega in 2011. He left a year later to join now-defunct Michael Waltrip Racing.
The last time a driver on the current RCR driver roaster won a Cup race was when Menard won at Indianapolis earlier in 2011.
You don’t have to remind Dillon that it was a long time ago. For an organization that has recorded a total of 12 championships across NASCAR’s three national touring series (six in Cup, four in what is now the XFINITY Series and two in the Truck Series), plus a total of 213 wins (including 105 in the Cup Series), the winless streak gnaws at everyone in the company.
That includes recent Hall of Fame inductee Richard Childress. Dillon would love to lift the burden of the streak from his grandfather’s shoulders.
“I’m proud of my grandfather,” said Dillon of Childress, who enjoyed his last Cup title with the late Dale Earnhardt in 1994. “He’s done a lot for NASCAR and his employees, myself included, and it makes you want to get this winless streak cleared away.
“We just want to get him back where he deserves to be. He gives us the equipment and organization to do it, and now we have to perform and make it happen.”