Concord, N. C. – The NASCAR Sprint Media tour presented by the Charlotte Motor Speedway continued with a visit to Richard Childress Racing, a Goody’s announcement involving Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr., followed by time with Front Row Motorsports in a living-room setting and thereafter with Michael Waltrip Racing.
At RCR, team owner Childress led the way and Sprint Cup drivers Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard and Jeff Burton commanded the attention along with Chilress’s grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon.
RCR didn’t fare as well as they would have liked in 2012, and they believe the addition of Dr. Eric Warren as competition director is a blessing. Said Warren, “My task is to get the teams working together and to build methods for preparing and pulling our ideas together.”
The drivers and the team owner were very complimentary of the new car. They realize there are many unknowns but they are up for the challenge. Each thought the appearance of the car was a best seller, and they hope the fans are as thrilled with the cars as they are. They indicate the cars look similar to those to be found in the showrooms.
Childress tipped that Austin Dillon will run in some five Cup races in 2013, including the Daytona 500 and Ty Dillon will be entered in one event. The youthful drivers know the pressure and spotlight are on them, but they believe they can handle it. “My grandfather puts his full trust in us, and I know we have to work hard to make it happen,” Ty said. The youngest Dillon will be running for the Camping World Truck Series championship and believes his year of experience will benefit him. “I want to lead and win races and to minimize my mistakes,” he said.
Leading into the season, the Dillon brothers will tune up for the season ahead by competing on the dirt at Volusia Motor Speedway, a fast half-mile dirt track just outside Daytona Beach. Ty Dillon said the seven consecutive nights will be used to get the rust off and is like a mini season. “It is a huge help to me and is a good tune-up for the season. There’s no better way to do it than on dirt,” he said.
Coming off a disappointing season, Jeff Burton has a positive outlook and is looking forward to racing the new car. “This is a street car,” he said. “It has put the stock back in stock-car racing. If you see the street car, that’s what the race car looks like. The bottom line, though, is how many people want to watch it race. The quality of racing hasn’t changed much but society has changed and changed the way people look at entertainment. The racing has to get better, so fans will watch it. And we have to find a way to increase the action on the track.”
Reflecting on his recent performance, he’s looking for a turn-around. “The journey is part of the trip and not every day is going to go well,” he said. “You have to persevere and keep digging. The fact that it is hard makes it fun to do. If it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be rewarding.” The Virginia native is eager for season to start and believes he can battle it out for the championship. “I want to compete and the Chase format gives everyone a chance, as you are never out of it.”
Burton feels like he’s in an envious position with his Cup career, saying he went to a short-track event over the weekend with some 140 drivers in action. “I realized there are hundreds of people (drivers) that would like to have my job.”
Furniture Row Racing relied upon its furniture products to set the stage for its media event. The company set up a living room with couches and numerous chairs for its key team members to use while talking with the media. The setting was well received by the media.
For the 2013 season, the Colorado-based team has signed Kurt Busch as its driver and they got a jump start on the upcoming season by running the controversial driver in the last six events in 2012. Busch drove consistently, chalking up successful runs as he became accustomed to the team and crew chief Todd Barrier.
“We are all together on this,” Busch said. “To be a western-based team that wants to compete with the big dogs. We are working toward making this car competitive. It is full throttle for us.”
Busch likes the new car and said it drives great. “With everything new, it makes it exciting. This is a package that teams, drivers and fans have created a buzz about. This is probably the car we should have had six years ago – a futuristic car that looks neat and has brand recognition. This is a car where you win on Sunday and sell on Monday.”
In another endeavor, Busch has been working closely with his girlfriend, Patty Driscoll’s, foundation, the Armed Forces Foundation. At the Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas, the pair sold a car for $500,000. “It is great to do this charitable works and see the outcome,” he said. “We are fighting a battle for the troops, and it is great to find unique situations to help other people.”
Front Row has strong ties to Richard Childress Racing and they are regarded as the fourth car for the accomplished team. The two entities previously had ties but they have been strengthened in the off season. Busch believes the two groups will work hard together, improving performance for both of them.