RCR Race Preview: Darlington Raceway

Richard Childress Racing

Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington Raceway… In 143 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington Raceway, Richard Childress Racing has eight wins, all by Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt claimed the checkered flag in 1986 (spring), both races in 1987, 1989 (fall), another sweep in 1990 plus spring events in 1993 and 1994. RCR drivers have 26 top-five and 48 top-10 finishes at the historic South Carolina speedway.

Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at The Lady in Black… Richard Childress Racing is looking to find Victory Lane for the first time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Darlington Raceway. Austin Hill owns the most recent top-five result, a second-place effort in the September 2023 event. The Welcome, N.C. based team has 13 top-five and 30 top-10 finishes.

Catch Saturday’s Action… The Darlington 200 will be televised live Saturday, May 11, beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1. The race will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90. 

Watch Sunday’s Show… The Goodyear 400 will be televised live on Sunday, May 12 beginning at 3 p.m. ET on FS1. The race will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Darlington Raceway…  Austin Dillon has made 15 career starts in the NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington Raceway, posting a career-best second-place finish in September 2020 when he missed Victory Lane by a narrow margin over Kevin Harvick. Dillon also had a fourth-place finish in 2017. Dillon has made four appearances at The Lady in Black in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, securing his best finish of fifth in 2012. The 2011 NASCAR Truck Series champion has two starts at the track in the Truck Series, earning his best finish of fifth in August 2010.

Throwing It Back Dating back to 1998, the long-standing partnership between Bass Pro Shops and RCR began with an associate sponsorship on Dale Earnhardt’s No. 3 Chevrolet. In that year’s NASCAR All-Star Race, Earnhardt drove a special gold Bass Pro Shops design, which served as the inspiration for Dillon’s Camaro that will hit the banks of Darlington Raceway for this weekend’s annual NASCAR Throwback event.

About Bass Pro Shops… Bass Pro Shops is North America’s premier outdoor and conservation company. Founded in 1972 when avid young angler Johnny Morris began selling tackle out of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri, today the company provides customers with unmatched offerings spanning premier destination retail, outdoor equipment manufacturing, world-class resort destinations, and more. In 2017 Bass Pro Shops united with Cabela’s to create a “best-of-the-best” experience with superior products, dynamic locations, and outstanding customer service. Bass Pro Shops also operates White River Marine Group, offering an unsurpassed collection of industry-leading boat brands, and Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort. Under the visionary conservation leadership of Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops is a national leader in protecting habitat and introducing families to the outdoors and has been named by Forbes as “one of America’s Best Employers.” Bass Pro Shops has a long relationship with NASCAR, dating back to 1998. For more information, visit http://www.basspro.com/.

Meet Dillon… Dillon is scheduled to appear at the RCR Merchandise Hauler in the Fan Zone at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, May 12 at 11:45 a.m. ET. Stop by to meet the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet and get new merchandise to wear on race day.


400 miles at Darlington Raceway is grueling. How do you stay focused?

“We always have a long, hot race at Darlington Raceway. Keeping hydrated is key leading up to the event, and working out in the gym and running laps on the simulator helps me maintain focus during 400 miles. I am looking forward to racing at Darlington. This is one of my favorite tracks. I have finished second here in the past, so we want to improve on that. We need to qualify well on Saturday because track position is extremely important and a good pit stall can make the difference in the race.”

Do you enjoy racing at Darlington Raceway?

“I enjoy racing at Darlington Raceway. It’s challenging. The track gets slick and wears tires quite a bit. The key to Darlington is trying to race the track and not the competition.”

Kyle Busch and the No. 8 zone Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Darlington Raceway… Kyle Busch will make his 25th NASCAR Cup Series start at Darlington Raceway on Sunday afternoon. The Las Vegas native scored his first victory at the historic track in 2008, coming in just his fourth start at the egg-shaped speedway. During that win, Busch led a race-high 169 of 367 laps and crossed the finish line over three seconds ahead of second-place Carl Edwards. Entering this weekend’s event, Busch has recorded six top-five and 14 top-10 finishes at Darlington Raceway. He ranks third overall among current drivers in laps led at Darlington (899).   

Did You Know? Busch is the youngest NASCAR Cup Series race winner in the 74-year history of Darlington Raceway. Busch was 23 years, 0 months, and 8 days old when he captured the checkered flag at the South Carolina speedway in 2008. 

The Points Chase Entering Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway, Busch holds the 12th position in the Cup Series driver championship point standings, 17 markers outside the top-10. 

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Has the Next Gen car changed how you race at Darlington Raceway? 

“I don’t know that it’s really changed the race a whole lot at Darlington Raceway. I think we’ve always kind of had trouble passing there to begin with, because the track is so narrow and it’s really, really tough to pass regardless. The Next Gen car has definitely created more gaps between the cars so it is harder to get to the back of the guy in front of you.”

Do you still have the same approach with keeping the car off the wall and staying out of trouble?

“It’s changed a little bit with the ability of being able to lean up against the wall and be closer to the wall with the body, because the flange fit body allows it to flex in and flex out. But the car is still very brittle with the components to it. You can bend a toe-link pretty easy.” 

How challenging is entering pit road off the track between Turns 3 and 4?

“Pit road entry in the middle of Turns 3 and 4 is not really that bad. You just have to know where it’s at. Experience is obviously the best key. You’ve got to maintain that slowing down time up on top of the racetrack and then the turning down. You’re only running between 45 and 50 laps on tires versus years ago when you’d run 60 or so. The tires are old and worn out and they feel bad, but they’re not as bad as they could be.”

Do you enjoy the challenge of racing at Darlington Raceway?     

“I do feel like Darlington has its own unique challenges and those challenges are pretty fun. It kind of gives to that old school nature of NASCAR but yet still has its own unique differences between any of the other one-mile or mile-and-a-half racetracks that we go to.” 

Jesse Love and the No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet Camaro SS at Darlington Raceway Jesse Love will make his inaugural run at Darlington Raceway this weekend during the Darlington 200. The rookie driver’s first-ever laps at the track “Too Tough to Tame” will take place during NASCAR Xfinity Series practice on Friday evening. 

Points Check In Love currently sits in the fourth position in the Xfinity Series driver championship point standings. The rookie is 40 points behind teammate, Austin Hill, who sits in third. The 19-year-old has had a constant hold on the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points standings since the start of the season and sits in the first position, 124 points ahead of second place Shane Van Gisbergen.

Supporting Our First Responders The No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet will sport their iconic red-and-white design at Darlington Raceway, but there will be a little something extra. As a way to honor those who protect the community, the rear TV Panel will feature “Trusted to Protect First Responders” under the Whelen logo. Whelen products are all proudly manufactured in America and Whelen is committed to protecting first responders with reliable products that keep them and their communities safe. 

About Whelen Engineering Whelen Engineering is a family-owned company with a pioneering spirit and a passion to protect the lives of those who protect and serve others. The company mission is to provide industry-defining safety solutions around the world, while creating a community of problem-solvers who are inspired to push boundaries and continue our legacy of delivering ground-breaking innovation. As a global leader in the emergency warning industry, Whelen has been trusted to perform since 1952, when George Whelen III invented the first rotating aviation beacon. Whelen now encompasses two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Connecticut and New Hampshire with over 750,000 square feet of engineering and manufacturing space and the largest design staff in the industry. Every part of every Whelen product is proudly designed and manufactured in America. We embrace quality as our foundation, we celebrate innovative engineering in every product we produce.

JESSE LOVE QUOTES:                                                               

How do you prepare to race at a track you haven’t seen before?

“The simulator helps a lot; I utilize that as a good tool and talk to my crew chief and my spotter. I talk to my teammate, Austin Hill, and my friends who have been there before. I also watch a lot of film.”

Darlington Raceway is one of the toughest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Is it intimidating for you to go out there without any time on the track?                                                                                    

“At Darlington Raceway you have to use driving techniques that I feel I am pretty good at: running the wall, sliding around, being free and doing a lot with your feet because of the corners and how Turns 1 and 2 are built. I feel it’s not a big disadvantage for me and I’ll be able to fire off pretty well there.” 

What would you consider a good day at Darlington Raceway? How will you measure your success there? 

“Just having a shot to win the race would be a good day. There’s a lot of things you can’t control, but we need to put ourselves in position to win, get some stage points, have a good qualifying effort and be there at the end with a shot to win. That’s all we can ask for. If we do that, it will be a successful day.”

Austin Hill and the No. 21 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet Camaro SS at Darlington Raceway… Austin Hill has made five career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Darlington Raceway, earning a top-10 result in each event. Last fall while piloting the No. 21 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet at the historic South Carolina track, the Winston, Georgia native posted his best finish of second. Hill has also competed in three NASCAR Truck Series races at Darlington, posting a best finish of third in 2020.

Celebrating 50 Years of Trucking… In celebration of the Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR and 50 Years of Trucking for Bennett Family of Companies, Hill and his Bennett Transportation and Logistics team are honoring the companies’ roots with a design that resembles a beloved truck from the 1980’s. The classic blue and white scheme will feature gold keyline accents to commemorate Bennett’s golden anniversary. 

About Bennett Family of Companies… McDonough-Ga. based Bennett Family of Companies is a woman-owned, Women’s Enterprise Business Council (WBENC) certified, diversified transportation and logistics company. Through its 14 affiliated operating companies, the Bennett Family of Companies delivers integrated transportation and supply chain management solutions worldwide. Bennett has 4,625 drivers/owner-operators, over 1,000 employees and 600 agents located across the United States. For more information, visit www.bennettig.com.

Meet Hill… On Saturday, May 11 at 10:30 a.m. ET, Hill is scheduled to sign autographs at the RCR Merchandise Trailer located in the Fan Zone at Darlington Raceway. Stop by to get your No. 21 gear and have Hill sign the items purchased.


What makes Darlington Raceway so difficult?

“Darlington Raceway is a tough place to get around. Tire wear is a big issue there and we always see a good amount of tire fall off. You have to make the decision of how hard you are going to push at the beginning of a run or how much you are willing to fall off at the end of a run. It’s always a game of chess to position yourself around other guys who may have made the same decision as you. How hard are they pushing right now compared to me. You want to stay under the limit of the tire and not overstep the right front or right rear to burn it off too early. I personally love to race on any tracks that have an old, worn-out surface where you see a lot of tire fall off. You see a lot of strategies play out differently. It’s a very unique racetrack that no other racetrack can mimic.”

Would you rather be better in Turns 1 and 2 or Turns 3 and 4?

“In racing, your car is never going to be 100% perfect. Drivers will always complain about something, whether the car is too tight, too loose, or doing something that we don’t like. For me, when I go into Darlington weekend, I focus on how my car is driving in Turns 3 and 4. I hope I can just get through Turns 1 and 2 but be really strong on the other end. Everyone gets through Turns 1 and 2 fairly decent. You can move your line around to make up speed. But in Turns 3 and 4, you have to turn really well and have drive on exit with how tight the overall corner is. When you see guys who win races at Darlington, I feel like they are really strong in Turns 3 and 4.”

Richard Childress Racing PR

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