Why Richard Childress Racing Should Be Excited For the NASCAR Cup Series Race at Kansas Speedway

Richard Childress Racing drivers Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick have led more than 200 laps in the NASCAR Cup Series this season, but none of them have been the one that matters most.

Neither Reddick nor Dillon have gotten RCR to Victory Lane, a once-familiar venue for the likes of Dale Earnhardt Sr., Kevin Harvick, Neil Bonnett, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

But if recent history is a guide, that could change this week as the Cup Series makes its way to the 1.5-mile tri-oval at Kansas Speedway, where Reddick and Dillon combined for three top-10 finishes in 2021. 

RCR’s luck needs to change as both drivers strive to reach the Cup Series playoff field. Heading into Kansas, Dillon and Reddick sit on the playoff bubble. A victory by either or both would secure a place in the postseason for Richard Childress Racing, a 13-time Cup Series champion.

Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon getting closer to Cup Series victories for Richard Childress Racing

Richard Childress Racing drivers Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon
Richard Childress Racing teammates Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon race during the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2022 | Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The 208 laps Dillon and Reddick have led this season is the most by RCR drivers since 2013, which was Harvick’s final year with the team.

Speaking with FOX Sports, Dillon said it is part of a growing process both he and Reddick are undergoing with their respective teams. That growth has resulted in four second-place finishes this season. Reddick was the runner-up this past weekend at Darlington and on the dirt at Bristol. Dillon took second at Auto Club and Talladega.

“Last year was an interesting year for us,” Dillon said. “We were really consistent, just never challenged for wins or many top-5s but consistently in the edge of the top 10. And it came down to Tyler and I fighting for the last spot on points. We didn’t get a win.

“So this year, it’s more of like, ‘Man, we have more opportunities to win, and we’ve got to capitalize.’ It’s been unfortunate. We haven’t been able to capitalize with the seconds and the thirds that we’ve been able to knock down so far.”

As the Cup Series hits the midway point of the 2022 regular season, both drivers are neck-and-neck in the points standings, with 14th-place Dillon (287) leading 15th-place Reddick (286) by one point heading into Kansas. Both drivers are also on the bubble for the Cup Series playoffs, which features 16 drivers.

Reddick won an Xfinity Series title with RCR in 2019 and believes in the team’s ability to revive its Earnhardt-era championship glory.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Reddick told FOX Sports. “Everyone works really, really hard. The performance that we have when it’s good on track, everyone wears it with pride. And when we have back weekends . . . everyone really wears it on their shoulder, too, and they go right back to work, and they’re not happy until we make it better.”

Recent success on 1.5-mile tracks could be a good sign for Richard Childress Racing at Kansas Speedway

If oddsmakers and recent performances on similar tracks can be heeded, RCR has something of a puncher’s chance to find Victory Lane at this week’s AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Reddick has five straight top-10 finishes at 1.5-mile circuits with an average finish of 7.4, fourth-best among Cup Series drivers. Dillon has historically been solid on 1.5-mile tracks but has struggled at Kansas. In 17 Cup starts at Kansas, Dillon has four top-10 finishes, with one of them coming last year.

For Dillon, part of solving the puzzle starts before the green flag drops on Sunday.

“We’ve sucked at qualifying,” Dillon told FOX Sports. “We haven’t qualified great, but we are able to progressively make the car better. We make good changes throughout the race.

“I’ve been harping on trying to unload better. We really trust in our simulator. And I think finding that data has been tough for us to unload (well). But the good thing is all the time we spent in the simulator has helped us with adjustments.”

Stats courtesy of Racing Reference

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