2011 Team Preview: Richard Childress Racing

RCR

RCR will have four Sprint Cup drivers in 2011. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Last month at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Media Tour Richard Childress called his shot for the 2011 season.

Childress predicted that it will be one of his drivers that ends Jimmie Johnson's reign of consecutive Sprint Cup championships at five.

"This year is the year to kick Jimmie off that throne." (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)"This year is the year to kick Jimmie off that throne," Childress said. "We were close with Kevin (Harvick) last year. This is the year to do it. It's going to be RCR I feel certain."

This season, Richard Childress Racing will have an additional shot of making Childress' Babe Ruth like call come to fruition as the team will go back to a four-car stable.

Paul Menard will join Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton as the team looks to give Childress his seventh championship and first since 1994.

Last year, Harvick came up 41 points shy of winning the championship. With the guidance of crew chief Gil Martin, Harvick posted a series leading 26 top 10s and was the points leader for 20 weeks in 2010.

"To compete on a week to week basis was very important to us," Harvick said. "I'm glad we had that experience. Hopefully, we can build upon that and make things better. I'm proud of the job everyone has done. I'm just ready to race. As we go into the year, we want to be as good as we were last year. We want that trophy. And that's what we're out to get."

In 2011, Harvick will have a new look when he climbs behind the wheel of his No. 29 Chevrolet featuring a black paint scheme with sponsorship from Budweiser. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)In 2011, Harvick will have a new look when he climbs behind the wheel of his No. 29 Chevrolet featuring a black paint scheme with sponsorship from Budweiser. In addition to Budweiser, Jimmy John's, who sponsored Harvick at Kevin Harvick, Inc., will be the primary sponsor on the No. 29 fpr six races this season.

Along with Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton also made the Chase last season with Bowyer finishing 10th in the standings after posting a career best 18 top 10s in one season.

Last month, Bowyer and crew chief Shane Wilson had a successful test at Daytona and were among the fastest in single car runs.

Clint Bowyer: "Our cars are fast." (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)"Our cars are fast," said Bowyer, who will be back in the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet. "Going through the motions, we found gains and things that could make it better. It's important to get that out of the way now."

Burton and crew chief Todd Berrier will look to get back on track this season after a rough stretch in last year's Chase where the No. 31 Caterpillar team found themselves swinging for the fences a few races in.

"I hope we learned a lot about ourselves," said Burton, who finished 12th in the standings in 2010. "I pushed too hard there's no question about that, but that was OK at that time. Looking back on it now, I know that people say 'man, wouldn't you have been happy finishing fifth or 12th?' Yeah, I would have been happier, but I wasn't of the mindset to give up first. The only way we were going to win was to make crazy stuff happen and that's what we tried to do. We threw the hail mary with 60 percent of the Chase left. It didn't work out for us, but I did not regret it."

Paul Menard will drive the No. 27 Chevrolet. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)Menard comes to RCR, along with his crew chief Richard "Slugger" Labbe, after spending the last two seasons driving a Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports and Yates Racing. He will drive the No. 27 Chevrolet with sponsorship from Menard's and will be guaranteed a starting spot in the first five races after RCR secured the owner points from TRG Motorsports' No. 71.

Childress will continue to field rides for his grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon, with Austin back in the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet (crew chief Danny Stockman) in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Ty in the No. 41 Chevrolet (crew chief Scott Naset) in the ARCA Racing Series.

RCR will add a second truck in 2011. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)RCR will also add a second truck (No. 22) with driver Joey Coulter and crew chief Harold Holly, plus will continue its ARCA program with Tim George Jr. in the No. 31 Chevrolet (crew chief Gere Kennon).

George is also expected to compete in some NASCAR Nationwide Series and Truck Series events this year.

Previous Team Previews

Tune in tomorrow when MotorRacingNetwork.com concludes our previews with a look at Hendrick Motorsports.

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