Dale Earnhardt Jr. Shares Intriguing Thoughts About Future of Richard Childress Racing and Who Takes Austin Dillon’s Seat
Dale Earnhardt is synonymous with Richard Childress Racing. Dale Jr. is not. But the latter is well-versed in the storied history of the organization and his father’s many contributions to its success.
This week, on his popular Dale Jr. Download podcast, Junior wasn’t looking at the past but toward the future of RCR. He revealed his interesting thoughts on what that might look like, including the replacement of driver Austin Dillon.
Dale Earnhardt started Richard Childress Racing on winning path
Richard Childress has been involved with NASCAR since his driving days in the 1970s. It was in the ’80s when his name rose to prominence, with Dale Earnhardt beginning his stretch of winning six Cup Series championships in nine seasons driving the No. 3 car.
While the 2001 Daytona 500 was incredibly tragic with the shocking loss of one of the sport’s greatest drivers, looking back on it years later, it produced an opportunity. And Kevin Harvick seized it. He drove that opportunity to 23 wins in nine seasons at RCR, including the 2007 Daytona 500.
Austin Dillon, the business namesake’s grandson, took over when Harvick left for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. The youngster impressed early on in that rookie year, winning the pole at the Daytona 500 and finishing ninth in the race. He stayed out of trouble that season with zero DNFs but didn’t run up front, with four top 10s and a single top 5. He finished behind Kyle Larson in Rookie of the Year voting.
Now, nearing the end of his 10th season, the 33-year-old has recorded a total of 75 top 10s, 22 top 5s, and four victories, two of them at Daytona, including the 2018 500.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. predicts future RCR without Austin Dillon driving
Since the introduction of the Next Gen car in 2022, Austin Dillon has struggled. How bad? Remember that rookie season and how he stayed clean without any DNFs? He’s remained consistent in that category throughout his career.
Before the Next Gen car, the most DNFs he had suffered in a season was five in 2017. Last year, the first with the new car, he recorded eight. Unfortunately, this year, he has already surpassed that low-water mark with 10 and has two races remaining.
While Dillon is 33 and conceivably has a few more wins in him, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on his podcast that he believes the driver should prep an exit strategy because there’s a new driver ready to come in and take his place. His name is Austin Hill, and he was this week’s guest on the DJD. Earnhardt Jr. said the following:
Why Austin Hill replacing Austin Dillon makes sense
While some might suggest Earnhardt is just speculating, his remarks indicate he knows something more, which wouldn’t be a surprise considering how connected he is with the sport. Junior expects Austin Dillon to step away and Austin Hill to replace him. He’s just unsure of the timeline.
Dillon moving away from the track and to the front office, making decisions for the organization, might sound ridiculous to some. It didn’t to Kyle Busch.
It’s been well-documented how the No. 3 driver made the first call to the two-time champion last year about possibly leaving Joe Gibbs Racing and joining RCR. Dillon’s remarks at the time also lend credence to what Earnhardt is now proposing.
“I think if anything, everybody knows where my heart is, and that’s for RCR to succeed and whatever it takes,” he told Fox’s Bob Pockrass.
Whatever it takes. Now, it’s a matter of whenever it happens.