COMMENTARY | Richard Childress Racing has a dream situation going into next year with the drivers coming available and opportunities to build a great group of guys.
Jeff Burton is in the last year of his contract and, frankly, is coming to the end of his great career.
That leaves two full-time seats open for Childress to fill with a third part-time team already having sponsorship as well. This gives RCR the opportunity to pick up two great free agents in Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch, and give Austin Dillon a solid part-time ride to continue his building process.
Many say that Austin Dillon should be brought up into the Cup Series full-time next season, but he simply doesn't have the experience against the big-name drivers to warrant passing up two proven drivers. So, Childress will have another full year to build a sponsorship package for Dillon for the end of next season and beyond.
Newman and Busch have shown that they can continue to be competitive and put RCR into a great situation with a solid driver base. This also gives Childress the perfect opportunity to evaluate Newman, Busch and Menard in the future when Ty Dillon is ready to be brought up into the Cup Series as well.
Busch has truly returned to the form that he was known for back before he got into all the issues off the track and was dropped to the lower tier teams that he finds himself on now. On the other hand, Newman has simply seen himself on the outs due to some bad luck with Harvick coming available and SHR not having the funds or sponsorship to pick up a fourth team right now.
Neither of these drivers has really shown that he deserves to lose out on rides going forward, and both definitely should be on top-tier teams. Now it is just a matter of Childress jumping at the chance and making a huge move that only he really can at this point in time.
Childress has the perfect opportunity to stabilize what is frankly a team that has lost a good chunk of its competitiveness with Harvick leaving to go to Stewart Haas Racing. Honestly, this is the best situation that Childress could hope to be in with losing his top driver.
Beyond Childress, there isn't a great deal of top-tier teams that these drivers can find themselves on going forward. It would a shame to see either of these drivers end up on a lower-tier team after the great careers that they have put together. Now it is just a matter of if Childress is willing to grab the opportunity and shake up the garage next season and beyond.
Matt Fitzgerald lives in Las Vegas and has been following NASCAR for 15 years now. He never misses a race and goes to as many as possible at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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