Editor‘s Note: Today‘s Richard Childress Racing preview continues NASCAR.com‘s countdown of team previews for the 2023 Cup Series season, ranked in reverse order of best finish in last year‘s owner standings.
RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING
Engine: ECR Engines
Driver-crew chief pairings: Kyle Busch-Randall Burnett (No. 8), Austin Dillon-Keith Rodden (No. 3)
Team Outlook: This has the potential to be the best season at RCR in close to a decade. While it lost Tyler Reddick to 23XI Racing, the addition of two-time NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Busch should immediately elevate things, and don‘t be surprised if some of Busch‘s skill and talent rub off on teammate Austin Dillon. Although Ryan Newman finished second in the final standings in 2014 and Kevin Harvick was third in 2013, RCR has struggled for the most part ever since. While its drivers have made the playoffs 10 times since 2015, no one has finished higher than 11th (2017, 2020 and 2022). Improvement is definitely the key word in 2023.
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 8 CHEVROLET
Experience: 19th full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series.
2022 stats: 13th in final standings (tied for second-worst season in his career); 1 win, 8 top fives, 17 top 10s
2023 championship odds (BetMGM): 14-1
Outlook: If you‘re a betting person, you may want to consider laying down a hefty futures bet on Busch to do very well in 2023, maybe going all the way to the championship. Busch, who turns 38 in May, moves to RCR with a big chip on his shoulder after Joe Gibbs Racing decided to part ways with him. And when Busch drives with a chip on his shoulder, he typically wins — and wins a lot. Example: When Rick Hendrick dumped Busch after 2007 (to make room for Dale Earnhardt Jr.), Busch won 8 races and scored 17 top-five finishes in his first season with JGR in 2008. Busch‘s new crew chief this season is Randall Burnett, who helped lead Reddick to his first three career Cup wins, plus 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes in 2022.
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 CHEVROLET
Experience: 10th full-time season in NASCAR Cup Series.
2022 stats: 11th in final standings; 1 win, 5 top fives, 11 top 10s
2023 championship odds (BetMGM): 150-1
Outlook: While excited to have Busch as his teammate, Dillon will likely also feel a great deal of pressure to improve his overall performance. Other than winning the Daytona 500 in 2018, significant career highlights to date have been few for the grandson of team owner Richard Childress: four total wins, 21 top fives and 68 top 10s in 336 career Cup Series starts. While he‘s made the playoffs five times in the last nine seasons, Dillon has never finished higher than 11th (2017, 2020 and 2022). Busch has the potential to bring out the best in Dillon. But the question is, does Dillon have much more “best” still left in him, or has he done as best as he can and will ever do? Like Busch, Dillon will have a new crew chief in 2023 in Keith Rodden, who has been atop the pit box for Jamie McMurray (2014) and Kasey Kahne (2015-2017).
NASCAR.com 2023 team previews schedule
Jan. 23: Non-chartered and teams outside the top 30
Jan. 24: Spire Motorsports
Jan. 25: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 26: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 27: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 30: Kaulig Racing
Jan. 31: RFK Racing
Feb. 1: Legacy Motor Club
Feb. 2: Richard Childress Racing
Feb. 7: 23XI Racing
Feb. 8: Stewart-Haas Racing
Feb. 9: Joe Gibbs Racing
Feb. 10: Hendrick Motorsports
Feb. 13: Trackhouse Racing
Feb. 14: Team Penske