Richard Childress Racing
RCR Enterprises, LLC, doing business as Richard Childress Racing, is a NASCAR team based in Welcome, North Carolina, and is owned and operated by former driver Richard Childress. The team currently fields the No. 3 Dow Chemical/General Mills Chevrolet SS for Austin Dillon, the No. 27 Menards Chevrolet SS for Paul Menard, and the No. 31 Caterpillar Inc./Quicken Loans Chevrolet for Ryan Newman in the Sprint Cup Series. RCR also occasionally runs the No. 33 Chevrolet through a partnership with Virginia car dealer Joe Falk and Hillman-Circle Sport LLC, with drivers Ty Dillon and Brian Scott.
In addition to its in-house Cup Series teams, RCR has technical alliances with three other teams: Furniture Row Racing, which fields the No. 78 car for Martin Truex, Jr., Germain Racing, which fields the No. 13 car for Casey Mears, and JTG Daugherty Racing, which fields the No. 47 car for A.J. Allmendinger. Beyond this, RCR also has collaborative agreements with Tommy Baldwin Racing and Premium Motorsports, although these are not technical alliances.
In the Xfinity Series, the team fields the No. 2 Shore Lodge/Albertsons Chevrolet Camaro for Brian Scott, the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/Yuengling/WESCO Chevrolet for Ty Dillon, the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet for Paul Menard, Austin Dillon and Brandon Jones, and the No. 62 South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa Chevrolet for Brendan Gaughan. RCR has fielded cars for notables such as Dale Earnhardt, Ricky Rudd, Neil Bonnett, and Kevin Harvick. RCR has had at least one car in every Cup race since late 1972, the longest such active streak.
- 1 Sprint Cup Series
- 1.1 Car No. 3 history
- 1.2 Car No. 27 history
- 1.3 Car No. 31 history
- 1.4 Car No. 33 history
- 1.5 Car No. 98 history
- 2 Xfinity Series
- 3 Camping World Truck Series
- 4 Development
- 5 Sponsorship controversies
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Sprint Cup Series
Car No. 3 history
RCR debuted at the 1969 Talladega 500 as a 1968 Chevy numbered 13. Childress himself drove the car, finishing 23rd after suffering axle problems. In 1972, the team came back to run fourteen races with Childress driving again, but didn't go full-time until 1976 when he would begin using the #3. Childress earned eleven top-10 finishes and finished eleventh in points that year. Over the next few years, he posted many top-10s and twice was among the highest top 10 points earners, but he never was in serious contention to win. In 1981, he decided to end his career before the season ended, and handed his #3 ride to the defending Winston Cup champion, Dale Earnhardt, who brought his Wrangler sponsorship with him.
After posting six-top tens, Earnhardt left to drive for Bud Moore, and Ricky Rudd took his place for the 1982 season, with Piedmont Airlines becoming the sponsor. Rudd drove the car for both 1982 and 1983 finishing 9th in points both years, and winning twice the latter. But after the season was over, Rudd was replaced by Earnhardt, with Wrangler back as sponsor (in perhaps an odd twist of fate, Rudd moved to Earnhardt's old ride, the #15 Bud Moore Engineering Wrangler-sponsored Ford Thunderbird, which actually kept its sponsorship despite Earnhardt leaving.
1984–2001: Dale Earnhardt
This time, Earnhardt was back for good, winning six championships over the next two decades, with crew chiefs Kirk Shelmerdine and Andy Petree, and Goodwrench replacing Wrangler as the primary sponsor after 1987. In the late-1990's Earnhardt's performance began to slow down, and went through 1997 without a victory. The next year, he won the Daytona 500 after 20 starts, all ending in losses. The year after that one, he was able to score wins at Talladega, as well as cause more controversy, after he spun Terry Labonte out to win a race at Bristol. In 2000, he looked like he was finally regaining his old form, winning twice and finishing runner-up to Bobby Labonte in points, and his many fans hoped he was gearing up for his record-breaking 8th championship. However, this was not to be.
2001–2013: Kevin Harvick
Following Dale Earnhardt's death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, Childress changed the number of the car from 3 to 29, inverted the original paint scheme, and tabbed his 25-year-old Busch Series driver Kevin Harvick to drive it. Harvick originally was scheduled to drive the #30 car part-time before going full-time in 2002; but the death of the 7-time Winston Cup championship rushed Harvick into the spotlight.
In just his 3rd Winston Cup start, Harvick beat Jeff Gordon by mere inches (.006 seconds) to win the Cracker Barrel 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, dedicating the win to Earnhardt. After posting another win at Chicagoland Speedway, Harvick won NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year honors. In 2002, Harvick's infamous temper escalated after announcing on his radio he would intentionally wreck another racer during a Craftsman Truck race. In response, NASCAR benched Harvick for the next race, and was replaced during that time by Kenny Wallace. Since then, Harvick has won eight races, including the prestigious Brickyard 400 and Daytona 500 while scoring a (at the time) career-best points effort of 4th in both 2006 and 2008. Despite a win early in the season, back-to-back seasons of missing "The Chase for the Nextel Cup" with 14th-place efforts proved to be frustrating, as Harvick threatened to leave the team if performance did not improve. A series of strong runs near the end of 2005 seemed to satisfy him, however, and he was back in the car in 2006 with Reese's as a new co-primary sponsor. After a somewhat slow start, Harvick hit his stride in April, with a string of Top 10 finishes, including a win at Phoenix. He eventually made the chase and led the standings for the first time in the first week of the chase. This helped RCR to be a dominant force in NASCAR again. After weeks of speculation as to where Kevin would drive starting in 2007, he and RCR announced a new three-year deal, with Kevin driving for Childress until 2009. For 2007 the team had a significant change in sponsorship. GM Goodwrench would move to an associate sponsor role on the #29, while Shell Oil Company and Pennzoil took over primary sponsorship. Harvick's 2007 season started out on a high note with a win in the 2007 Daytona 500 in a close finish with veteran Mark Martin. Harvick would score another win at the All Star, holding off Jimmie Johnson. Harvick entered a slump during the summer, and was involved in a trackside altercation with Juan Pablo Montoya. However, Harvick and his team held off a struggling Dale Earnhardt Jr. to make the Chase for the Cup. Harvick's Chase performance would not be a repeat of 2006, and he would finish 10th in the points. Harvick won the 2009 Budweiser Shootout and finished second in the Daytona 500.
After not making the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup, it was expected that Harvick would leave RCR after his contract ends at the conclusion of the 2010 season. However, after a strong start to the 2010 season, winning the 2010 Aaron's 499 at Talladega and the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, Harvick signed a multi-year extension to his RCR contract in May 2010. Harvick went on to finish 3rd in points for the 2010 season, the highest finish of his career. The team's sponsor, Shell Oil Company and Pennzoil, left after the 2010 season and joined Penske Racing. Budweiser replaced it as the car's primary sponsor beginning in the 2011 season. Harvick and the 29 team recorded three wins early in the year at Fontana, Martinsville, and Charlotte. The team's consistency kept them near the top of the standings, and they recorded a fourth win at the 26th race in Richmond. Despite the team's Chase performance being inconsistent, Harvick would finish third in points for the second year in a row. For 2012, Harvick was reunited with Shane Wilson as his crew chief at Harvick's request. However, after struggling for most of the season, Childress reunited Harvick with Martin. Harvick won his once that year with Martin at Phoenix International Raceway. Despite rumors that he would leave RCR for Stewart-Haas Racing after the 2013 season, the 29 team racked up 4 wins during the season, and once again finished third in points. Harvick would later announce his departure from RCR to Stewart-Haas midway through the season, taking sponsors Budweiser and Jimmy Johns with him.
2014–present: Austin Dillon
On December 11, 2013, Richard Childress announced that his grandson Austin Dillon would replace Harvick for 2014 and contend for Rookie of the Year honors. In addition, the car will be renumbered back to the 3, which has not been used since Dale Earnhardt's death. New sponsor Dow Chemical and current RCR sponsors General Mills, American Ethanol, and Bass Pro Shops came on to fund the return of the #3. Austin had run the number in prior competition, including championship seasons in the Truck and Nationwide Series, as did his younger brother Ty. The transition back to 3 has been met with mixed reactions, with some fans welcoming the move with open arms, and others turning their backs on RCR and even NASCAR as a whole due to accusations of disrespect towards the late Earnhardt, and that the number 3 should have been retired. In addition, Austin was set to compete with what many deemed to be the strongest rookie class in the series' history, including talented youngster Kyle Larson and his runner-up for Nationwide Series ROTY Alex Bowman, Nationwide race-winner Justin Allgaier and Nationwide veteran Michael Annett, and former big team development drivers Parker Kligerman, Ryan Truex, and Cole Whitt. Larson and Dillon were viewed as the top contenders for the title.
Dillon opened up 2014 with a bang, winning the pole at the season opening Daytona 500, then finishing 9th in the race after avoiding serious damage in a Lap 145 wreck that involved 13 cars. Though his results have not been spectacular (one top 5 and three top 10's through Bristol in August), Dillon's results have been very consistent (0 DNF's), maintaining a top 20 spot in the standings and remaining in the hunt for a low-end chase berth.
Car No. 27 history
What eventually became the No. 27 car at RCR was formed in 2001 as the #30 America Online Chevrolet. Childress originally planned to have Kevin Harvick drive this car on a limited basis during that season as part of a transition from the Busch Series to Winston Cup for 2002, but after Dale Earnhardt's death Harvick was moved into RCR's primary car and 2000 Busch Series champion Jeff Green was selected to drive the car in his place. The team debuted at the NAPA Auto Parts 500 at California Speedway, with Green finishing 21st. The team qualified for six more races that season, with Green earning a pole at the Sharpie 500 at Bristol in August, and went full-time the next season as scheduled with Green behind the wheel.
Green posted six top-tens in the 2002 season, including a career best second at Loudon in July and finished seventeenth in points. Although the team started 2003 with a Daytona 500 pole, Green and the team failed to jell as Childress had hoped and later that season, in what amounted to a trade between organizations, Green was replaced by the former driver of the #1 car at Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Steve Park (Green took Park's ride at DEI following his firing). Green's firing was largely connected to an altercation between him and teammate Kevin Harvick at Richmond in which Harvick wrecked Green while racing for a top 10 position, igniting an already tumultuous relationship between the two drivers that went back to their competition in the Busch Series. Park would score a pole in July and earn two top 10s but had only six finishes inside the top 20, ending the season 32nd in points.
In 2004, Childress promoted 25-year-old Busch Series driver Johnny Sauter to the ride, hoping he would rise to the occasion like Harvick had in 2001. Kevin Hamlin moved over from the 31 team to serve as Sauter's crew chief. Sauter had helped secure the 2003 Busch Series owner's championship in a partial schedule with RCR, while finishing 8th in driver points. Sauter failed to score a top ten, ranked at the bottom of the Raybestos Rookie standings, and was released just 13 races into the season. After that, Dave Blaney drove the car, only skipping Infineon Raceway when Jim Inglebright took the wheel. A couple of weeks after it was announced Blaney would be in the car for rest of the year, Jeff Burton became available after parting ways with Roush Racing's #99 car, leaving Blaney out in the cold. Burton was signed to a multi-year contract and drove the car for the rest of the year beginning at Michigan in August. When Robby Gordon left to start his own team, Burton moved to the 31.
With AOL leaving as sponsor, Childress had two voids left to fill. He decided to rehire Blaney, and signed Jack Daniel's to sponsor the car, marking one of the first hard liquor sponsorships in NASCAR's history. The team also changed its number to 07 to commemorate JD's slogan "Ol' No. 7". Blaney posted just 2 top ten finishes during 2005, finishing 26th in the standings. As a result, Blaney moved to Bill Davis Racing in 2006, while rookie Clint Bowyer was placed in the #07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet for RCR. In his second season, Bowyer not only put the 07 solidly in the 2007 Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, but also took the first win for this team at the Sylvania 300 at Loudon. Clint finished third in the final standings in 2007. In 2008 Clint got his second win at Richmond at the Crown Royal Presents The Dan Lowry 400. On August 23, 2008, former Hendrick Motorsports driver Casey Mears was signed to drive the 07 in 2009, with Bowyer moving to the fourth RCR car, the #33. Mears struggled in the new ride, however, and had to take on three crew chiefs during the season. More troubling was the fact that Jack Daniel's announced in 2009 that they would be leaving RCR at the end of the year, leaving the 07 without a sponsor. Childress decided to release Mears at the end of the year and sell the 07's owners points to Furniture Row Racing.
On August 11, 2010, Paul Menard was signed to drive a fourth RCR Chevrolet after he decided to leave the struggling Richard Petty Motorsports. The car was re-numbered to 27, and MENARDS Home Improvement, owned by Paul's father John Menard, came on to sponsor the car in a multi-year agreement. Former TRG Motorsports partner Tom Pumpelly was listed as the owner of the #27 and the #35th place owner's points were given to Menard to guarantee a spot in the first five races. The 27 opened the season with a 9th-place finish at the Daytona 500. Menard would go on to win the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 31, leading four times for a total of 21 laps and using a fuel mileage gamble to take the victory. It was the first career win for Paul, and his father's first win at the track as an owner or sponsor in both NASCAR and IndyCar competition. The victory also made Paul eligible for the $3 million Sprint Summer Showdown as well as a wild card Chase berth. Menard spent most of the season flirting with the top 12 in points, but ultimately missed the Chase despite his victory. Menard and the 27 team would end up finishing 17th in points.
In 2012 and 2013, Menard's results were similar, scoring 9 top 10s in both seasons and finishing 16th and 17th in points respectively, with only three DNF's over the two years. At the 2013 season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway, Menard was involved in a freak incident, when his right rear wheel caught fire due to rubber from a previous tire issue being wrapped around the rear axle and igniting from a cut brake line. The tire proceed to explode on pit road, sending black smoke in all directions, and ending their day. ESPN analyst Andy Petree described it as "like a bomb went off" during the telecast of the race. In a less infamous incident at Darlington in April of the next year, Menard blew a right front tire and slammed the turn 2 wall. Once again on pit road, rubber collected under the car (in addition to fluid leaking from the engine) caught fire and exploded, ending the 27 car's race.
Menard returned to the 27 for 2014, with the car running schemes more oriented towards the associate sponsors of MENARDS featured on the hood of the car. Six races prior to the Chase for the Sprint Cup at Indy in July, Menard was involved in an incident with part-time driver Juan Pablo Montoya, sending Menard into the turn 3 wall and relegating him to a 34th-place finish. The incident upset both driver and crew, who felt Montoya had cost them a spot in the Chase (Menard was dropped to 16th in points). After the fall Richmond race, Menard remained winless and ranked 20th in points, losing out on a spot in the new chase format.
Car No. 31 history
For over a decade, car #31 was Childress's R&D car. It debuted in 1988 at the fall event at North Carolina Speedway, as #22 and Rodney Combs driving, finishing dead last. Ironically, when Bill Elliott's backup car failed during practice for the pit crew championship, Elliott drove that backup car for his #9 team to do the competition pit stop. The car wasn't seen again until 1993, as #31 and Earnhardt's longtime friend Neil Bonnett driving at Talladega Superspeedway. In this race, Bonnett, already on a comeback, was involved in a horrifying accident, but made it out okay. After driving another race that year for RCR, Bonnett died testing Phoenix Racing's #51 Country Time Lemonade car for the 1994 Daytona 500.
1996–July 2001: Mike Skinner
In 1996, the car returned with defending Craftsman Truck Series champion Mike Skinner driving with Realtree sponsoring the car in four of the five races it ran. Skinner had three-top starts that year, including one on the outside pole. The team finally ran full-time in 1997, with Skinner driving and Lowe's as the sponsor. Skinner won the pole position for both of the races at Daytona, and defeated what has turned out to be a very scant field of drivers for rookie of the year. He suffered some injuries in 1998, and Morgan Shepherd and Childress' son-in-law Mike Dillon filled in for him. Teamed with crew chief Larry McReynolds, 1999 was his best season ever, winning the pole position twice, and finished tenth in points after being the championship leader at one point earlier in the year. However, Skinner was never able to win a points-paying race, although he won two exhibition races in Japan, at Suzuka and Twin Ring Motegi, respectively, as well as some other non-point events.
July 2001–2004: Robby Gordon
In 2001, Skinner suffered a broken ankle in the opening laps at the inaugural race at Chicagoland. Robby Gordon filled in for him, and struggled heavily, missing two races and failing to post a finish better than 25th in his first four races for the team. Skinner returned at Bristol, but he just wasn't the same, and Gordon once again took his place at Kansas.
Nevertheless, it was announced in late 2001 that Gordon would drive the car full-time the next year,. At Watkins Glen, Gordon was dominating the second road course race of the season when the telemetry box in his car used by NBC Sports burst into flames, injuring a crew member and ending the 31's day. In the rescheduled season finale at New Hampshire, Robby Gordon was engaged in a closing-laps battle with eventual champion Jeff Gordon (no relation). With 16 laps to go, leader Jeff Gordon (who ended up leading 257 of the 300 laps) was stuck behind the 12th place #77 car of Robert Pressley trying to stay on the lead lap, with Robby right on his tail. In the middle of turns 3 and four, Robby gave a bump to Jeff while he had slowed down to try and pass the lapped car of Mike Wallace, sending him into Wallace's #12 car and inflicting damage on the 24 car. Jeff was black flagged while attempting to retaliate under caution, and Robby went on to earn a controversial first career victory. It was also the 31 car's first victory.
Armed with a big surge of momentum and a new sponsor in Cingular Wireless had five top-ten finishes and finished 20th in points in 2002. 2003 was even better, as he swept both road course events and improved four spots in points. After his performance dipped down in 2004, Gordon decided to leave and start his own team, the No. 7 with Robby Gordon Motorsports, and Jeff Burton was tabbed as his replacement.
2005–2013: Jeff Burton
2005 was Jeff Burton's first full year at RCR, and he had six top-tens and three top-fives for the year, including a third in the Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix in April and a second-place finish in the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
In 2006, Burton won the pole for four races, bringing his total number of career pole wins to six. The four pole wins were for the Daytona 500, the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Prior to qualifying for the Daytona 500, Burton was extremely enthusiastic about the improvements to RCR as a whole. The Allstate 400 pole gave Richard Childress Racing the front row as teammate Clint Bowyer recorded the second fastest time. Burton's best finish came in the Chicagoland race where he recorded a second-place finish. He led the most laps at Indianapolis and Bristol's Sharpie 500, setting the pace for more than half the race. In the Busch Series, he won at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway, breaking his four-year winless streak in any series. After the race at Richmond International Raceway Jeff qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup. During the Chase, Burton won the Dover 400 at Dover International Speedway allowing him to take the points lead. However, a series of relatively poor finishes in subsequent races, including a flat tire at Talladega while running in the top five and an engine failure at Martinsville, eliminated Burton from contention for the championship.
Burrton won the Samsung 500 (Texas) on April 15, 2007, driving the Prilosec OTC-sponsored Chevrolet, passing Matt Kenseth on the final lap, making him the first driver with multiple wins at Texas Motor Speedway. He later went on to qualify for the Chase for the Nextel Cup, he finished tied for 7th in the 2007 standings.
Burton came very close to winning the 50th running of the Daytona 500. He qualified 36th and by the end of the race had worked his way up in the field. He led prior to the race's final caution, but when the green flag dropped with four laps to go, lost several positions and wound up finishing 13th.
Burton won the 2008 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Following contact between Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart, Burton passed both Harvick and Stewart for the 2nd position. On the ensuing restart Burton passed Denny Hamlin coming off of Turn 2 to win the Food City 500 and finishing off a sweep of the podium for Richard Childress Racing. Burton also won the 2008 Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Burton took the lead from Greg Biffle with just over 70 laps to go. During the final round of pit stops Burton took fuel only and held off a hard charging Jimmie Johnson for his first multiple win season since 2001.
Burton had a new sponsor on the No. 31, after Caterpillar Inc., his brother Ward Burton's former sponsor at Bill Davis Racing, was signed through 2011. Burton was expected to make a run for the championship but a poor season lead Burton to miss the Chase, the first time since 2005. Burton's best finish that year was a 3rd at Las Vegas Motor Speedway because he stayed out at the last caution.
In 2010, he rebounded but he had still not won a race, though he made the Chase. He nearly won the fall Martinsville but a flat tire with 15 laps to go gave Denny Hamlin the win. A couple weeks later he and Jeff Gordon got into a wreck long after the caution was out. Burton walked up the track to confront Gordon and the two got into a shoving match. Burton finished 12th in the final standings. Afterwards, Burton assumed responsibility for the incident, stating he was attempting to catch up to Gordon, but was unable to see in the sunlight's glare.
In 2011, Burton opened the season by winning the second Gatorade Duel qualifying race, edging out his Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer. After that, Burton's season went downhill. He was leading the Daytona 500 halfway when his engine gave out. He nearly won the Coca-Cola 600 but got spun out on the final restart. Though wanting another caution, the yellow flag never came out because NASCAR wanted to see the race finish under green, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was leading when the accident occurred. His teammate Kevin Harvick passed Earnhardt Jr. within the last 500 yards of the race, because Dale Jr. ran out of gas. This led to controversy because fans were speculating that NASCAR wanted Earnhardt to win and go back to victory lane in the first time in three years. Burton's first top 10 came in the twenty first race at Watkins Glen International. Burton missed the 2011 Chase but had a strong run at the fall race at Talladega, leading on the last lap and out of turn four being pushed by Clint Bowyer. At the tri-oval, Bowyer slingshotted to Burton's outside and won by a hood, giving Richard Childress his 100th win as a team owner, Bowyer redeeming his 0.002 second loss to Jimmie Johnson at the track in the spring. In 2012, Burton gained the sponsorship in Wheaties, BB&T and EnerSys. The 31 team also switched crew chiefs too, and Drew Blickensderfer became the crew chief. After a dismal 2012, Blickensderfer was released 4 races early and Luke Lambert became Burton's crew chief in 2013. Shane Wilson became interim crew chief until the end of 2012. Burton has 5 Top 10's in 2012. At the AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Burton will make his 1,000th career NASCAR start, the sixth driver in NASCAR history to do so.
On September 4, 2013, Richard Childress Racing announced that Burton would not be returning to RCR in 2014.
2014–present: Ryan Newman
In September 2013, Burton announced that he would be stepping out of the No. 31 at the end of the season due to a lack of additional sponsorship. On September 9, it was announced that Ryan Newman will drive the No. 31 beginning in 2014, bringing sponsor Quicken Loans with him from Stewart-Haas Racing for 12 races. Kevin Harvick had transferred to Stewart-Haas Racing, Newman's previous team, essentially meaning the two drivers were switching teams, although they did not end up in the same rides. In spite of not winning a race, Newman made it to the final round of the new chase format, finishing second in points to Harvick.
Car No. 33 history
October 2003–2008: Part-time beginnings
What is now the #33 car started as the #90 car in 2003. RCR entered the #90 Chevrolet at the fall Talladega race with John Andretti driving. The car was sponsored by AOL 9.0, and the car was numbered 90 for marketing purposes. Ron Hornaday, Jr. ran the #90 in the season-ending Ford 400 with Childress Vineyards on the hood. In 2004, it was announced that Kerry Earnhardt would drive a #33 Richard Childress Racing Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet in 5 NASCAR Nextel Cup events in 2004. Mike Skinner would run the first race in the car at the Daytona 500, finishing 22nd. Kerry Earnhardt drove the car in the other three restrictor plate races with Bass Pro Shops sponsoring, his best finish being 24th. Earnhardt attempted all of the restrictor plate races again in 2005, finishing 17th at Talladega. In addition, road course ringer Brian Simo brought home a 10th-place finish at Infineon Raceway. Clint Bowyer, Childress' Busch Series driver in the Busch Series, made his Nextel Cup debut in this car with Sylvania sponsorship at Phoenix in April 2005. Scott Wimmer ran the season finale in 2005, attempted 2 races in 2006 (making 1 start), and only made one start out of seven attempts in 2007. On May 2, 2008, Wimmer attempted and failed to qualify for the 2008 Crown Royal presents the Dan Lowry 400 at Richmond. Wimmer was sponsored by Holiday Inn and Camping World/RVs.com. Ken Schrader and Mike Wallace ran one race apice in 2008.
RCR expanded to 4 full-time Sprint Cup teams in 2009 with sponsorship from General Mills' Cheerios and Hamburger Helper brands on the #33 Chevrolet. On August 23, 2008, RCR driver Clint Bowyer was announced as the driver of the #33 General Mills Chevrolet Impala SS for the 2009 season. Casey Mears took over Bowyer's previous car, the #07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet Impala SS. In his first race in the car, Bowyer finished fourth in the 2009 Daytona 500. However, the team failed to win in 2009.
The Hartford joined the team as an additional a sponsor of the #33 during 2010, and Bowyer's consistency improved markedly. The team had a fairly solid season in 2010.
However, in 2011, the team struggled with consistency and failed to make the Chase. With the departure of Clint Bowyer to Michael Waltrip Racing for 2012, General Mills moved its sponsorship over to the #31 team, leaving the #33 team without a driver or sponsor.
2012–present: Back to part-time
The #33 began 2012 with the intent of running only as long as sponsorship would allow. Kroger and General Mills sponsored at the Daytona 500 with Elliott Sadler driving. Brendan Gaughan drove the next four races with his family's South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa on the car. Elliott's brother Hermie Sadler then drove at Martinsville with Anderson's Maple Syrup sponsoring. This would be the last race for the 33 under RCR control.
In April 2012, Childress announced that he sold the #33 to Joe Falk and Mike Hillman, Sr., who had fielded the #40 twice earlier in the season but had yet to qualify for a race. However, they kept the number 33, with the team assuming the name Circle Sport. Falk and Hillman took over the car at Texas in April. The transfer lets RCR field the number for their entries on limited occasions. In the first of these occasions, Austin Dillon ran the car under the RCR banner with American Ethanol, finishing 24th at the June Michigan race. For 2013, the same arrangement continued, with Dillon running the #33 as an RCR entry for selected races including Daytona, Michigan, and Indianapolis. Brian Scott ran an RCR car in his Cup debut at the 2013 Bank of America 500, finishing 27th.
In 2014, RCR ran the 33 in the first two races of the season with Scott and his family's Whitetail Club. Scott finished fifth in his Daytona Duel to earn a spot in the Daytona 500, then finished 25th in the race after several accidents. Scott ran the next race at Phoenix, starting and finishing 32nd. Scott was involved in a controversy in the fifth race of the season at Fontana, when he spun out Sprint Cup Series regular Aric Almirola, who expressed displeasure at Scott's driving and source of sponsorship after getting out of the car. Scott would finish 35th in that race. Brian then won the pole at the spring Talladega race, his first career Cup pole. Scott would not lead any laps, however, and finished 42nd after crashing out. 2000 Cup Champion Bobby Labonte, who was doing test driving for RCR, drove the same car at the summer Daytona race, under the Circle Sport banner. The car again had speed in qualifying, timing in 4th. Labonte would contend for the lead for much of the race but finish 26th after being swept up in the Big One. Richard Childress' younger grandson Ty Dillon drove at Atlanta and Phoenix in the fall, with sponsorship from Rheem, Realtree and Charter Communications.
Ty Dillon attempted the 2015 Daytona 500 in the #33 for RCR with Cheerios and Kroger sponsoring. Dillon qualified for the Daytona 500 and finished 28th. Brian Scott qualified for Atlanta in the #33 (under the Circle Sport banner) the next week, but gave up his seat to HScott Motorsports after their driver Michael Annett missed the race. Under NASCAR rules, Falk would receive owner's points. Scott raced the next week at Las Vegas for RCR, finishing 13th, and also ran well two races later at Fontana before finishing 27th. Scott made the field at Talladega in May, but finished last after a blown engine and subsequent crash collecting Michael Waltrip. Dillon ran the car at Kansas in May promoting SpongeBob SquarePants character Plankton, at Pocono in June with Yuengling sponsoring, and at Michigan with Pfizer brand Nexium.
Car No. 98 history
Austin Dillon made his Sprint Cup Series debut at Kansas in October 2011, with sponsorship from Camping World on the #98 Chevrolet. The car was fielded in association with music legend Mike Curb and promoted the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration. The entry was allowed because of NASCAR's policy that allows teams to field a fifth car if it is fielded for a rookie in seven or less races.
Car No. 2 history
RCR has fielded this entry in the Nationwide Series since the fall North Carolina Speedway race in 1999, moving the entire team from the Craftsman Truck Series. Kevin Harvick was the first driver of the #2 AC Delco Chevy, winning three races and winning Rookie of the Year, despite missing the spring race at North Carolina Speedway. He went on to win the championship in the Busch Series in 2001 while running full-time in Winston Cup as well. In 2002, rookie driver Johnny Sauter won at Chicagoland, and finished 14th in points. The next year, Ron Hornaday drove the car full-time, winning once and posting a third-place finish in points. Hornaday followed up that performance with another win and a drop to 4th in points the following year.
In 2005, Clint Bowyer took the reins, in a program headed up by veteran crew chief Gil Martin, winning at Nashville Speedway and Memphis Motorsports Park to finish second in points. Bowyer was back in the #2 car in 2006 with crew chief Dan Deeringhoff, while Martin moved up to run the 07 Jack Daniels Cup car for Bowyer's rookie season. Bowyer would finish 3rd in points with a win a Dover. 2006 was the final year for longtime sponsor AC Delco (sister company GM Goodwrench also withdrew from the Cup Series after 2006); for 2007 BB&T bank signed on as the sponsor, with Bowyer running 21 races in the #2. Kenny Wallace drove for the team in a one-race deal at Gateway International Raceway, sponsored by sandwich chain Jimmy John's. In 2008, Bowyer returned full-time, scoring 18 top tens in the first 21 races including a win at Bristol. Bowyer won the NASCAR Nationwide Series Drivers Championship by 21 points over Carl Edwards, holding the lead since the sixth race of the season. In 2009 the #2 team ran a partial schedule with Sean Caisse and Austin Dillon sharing the ride. The team shut down after 2009.
In late 2011, Kevin Harvick sold off his KHI organization, with the Nationwide Series team and equipment going to Childress' stable. KHI's 2 car, driver Elliott Sadler and sponsor OneMain Financial moved over to RCR. Sadler continued on the success from KHI, finishing 2nd in the 2012 drivers championship for the second year in a row to Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Even though Sadler scored four wins, it was announced in September that he turned down an extension offered by Childress to continue in the second tier series; he and sponsor OneMain Financial moved to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013, which included a start in the Cup Series.
For 2013, former JGR driver Brian Scott took the wheel of the No. 2 under a multi-year contract (essentially swapping rides with Sadler). Scott brought sponsorship from Idaho-based Shore Lodge and Whitetail Club, owned by his father. The #2 team also switched back to RCR-style angled number logos from KHI-style logos. Scott had markedly improved consistency from his crash-marred seasons with Gibbs, with three top 5s and 13 top 10s en route to a seventh place points finish. Scott's best run by far was at Richmond in September, where he led won the pole and led 229 laps. before being passed on the a restart by Brad Keselowski with 11 laps to go, finishing second. Scott's team protested the restart-in-question, and after the race stated "We deserved to win that race."
In the spring Richmond race, Scott and Nelson Piquet, Jr. got into altercations on the cool down lap and on pit road following several on-track incidents that carried over from prior races. During the physical altercation, which got both teams' crew members involved, Piquet was shown kicking Scott in the groin, which Scott called "just a chicken move." Scott finished 20th in the race.
Scott returned RCR in 2014, which included several starts in the #33 Cup car. Scott's performance continued to improve, winning another Richmond pole (in the Spring race) poles at both Chicagoland races, and was in contention to win several races. Scott ended the year with career bests in top five finishes (six), top tens (23), and average start and finish (6.5 and 9.5 respectively). He would come away with a career-best fourth place in the championship standings, losing a numerical tiebreaker for third with former RCR driver Elliott Sadler.
Car No. 3 history
The #3 car was initially run in the then-Busch Series by Dale Earnhardt, Inc. beginning in 1989, winning two championships with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 1998 and 1999. The #3 made its debut as part of the RCR stable in 2002 at the EAS/GNC Live Well 300 at Daytona, driven twice that year by Earnhardt, Jr. with sponsorship from Nabisco brands Oreo and Nilla. Earnhardt won the Daytona race but finished 36th at the Carquest Auto Parts 300 at Charlotte after a crash. The #3 car returned for one race in 2010 at the Subway Jalapeño 250 at Daytona with sponsorship from Wrangler, in a joint venture between RCR, JR Motorsports, and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. The car was once again driven by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with a paint scheme resembling the one used by his late father when he first drove for RCR. Earnhardt would go on to win the race, his first victory in 85 Nationwide Series starts, and the first victory in a Nationwide Car of Tomorrow. Prior to the start, Earnhardt, Jr. claimed that it would most likely be the last time he would drive the #3 car.
In 2011, the team moved to full-time status with Childress's grandson Austin Dillon driving, led by crew chief Danny Stockman. The team was sponsored by AdvoCare (20 races), Bass Pro Shops, and American Ethanol. Dillon stayed in the championship hunt throughout the season, sweeping both Kentucky races and easily claiming Rookie of the Year. Dillon would finish 3rd in points behind teammate Elliott Sadler and champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Dillon returned in 2013, with AdvoCare covering the entire season. Despite not going to victory lane, the No. 3 team scored five consecutive poles midway through the season and seven total on the year. Dillon managed to stay consistent enough to beat Sam Hornish, Jr. for the championship, becoming the first team to win a championship without a victory. Austin would move up to the Sprint Cup Series in 2014.
For 2014, younger brother Ty Dillon took over the No. 3 for 2014 with sponsorship from Yuengling, Bass Pro Shops, and WESCO. Dillon earned a pole in the third race of the season at Las Vegas, and scored his first career victory at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway after leading 24 laps, one of only three rookies to win a race in 2014. Dillon earned three poles, seven top five finishes, and 24 top tens en route to a fifth place points finish, losing Rookie of the Year honors to champion Chase Elliott.
Car No. 21 history
The #21 debuted in 2000, with Rockwell Automation as the sponsor and Childress' son-in-law Mike Dillon driving. Dillon posted two top 10 finishes and finished 23rd in points that year. Six races into 2001, Dillon was injured at Bristol Motor Speedway, and it was announced at the time he would be out for the rest of the year. Since then, he has taken on other roles with the team. His replacement was Mike Skinner, but after his injury, Jeff Purvis took over briefly, winning at Pikes Peak, before Skinner returned. After Skinner's release, Robby Gordon had the driving duties for the balance of the season. The next year, Jeff Green and Jay Sauter drove the car.
In 2003, the team set out to win the Busch Series Owner's Championship with sponsorship by The Hershey Company's PayDay brand. Cup driver Kevin Harvick was tabbed to drive 15 of the 34 races, with development driver Johnny Sauter filling out the rest of the schedule. Harvick ended up running 19 races, with 3 wins and top tens in all but one race, and RCR became the first team to win an owner's points title with two different drivers. Harvick has been the anchor driver ever since, with Clint Bowyer doing the co-driving honors in 2004 and Brandon Miller in 2005 and sponsorship from Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Jeff Burton drove the car at Bristol in 2005. In 2006, Harvick and Jeff Burton split the driving duties in the car with United States Coast Guard sponsorship as Harvick attempted to run the entire Busch Series schedule in three different cars. Burton won at Atlanta, and Harvick won three more races, pulling out to an over 700-point lead in the points standings with 5 races to go in the 2006 season. AutoZone replaced the Coast Guard sponsorship in 2007, and Harvick drove along with development driver Timothy Peters, until Peters was replaced by Sprint car driver Tim McCreadie. Beginning in 2008 Bobby Labonte was to drive the 21 car for 15 races of the season. In May 2008, the team shut down due to financial problems but returned at the Emerson Radio 250 to debut Austin Dillon, son of former driver Mike Dillon and grandson to Richard Childress.
In 2010 RCR hired John Wes Townley as driver of car #21, with Zaxby's as sponsor. On April 9 John Wes Townley was pulled from the #21 car after a practice crash at Phoenix. RCR said it was for precationary reasons, but Townley later returned to RAB Racing. Clint Bowyer took over driving duties at Phoenix. Scott Riggs drove at Nashville and Kentucky in June. After the July Daytona race, Morgan Shepherd stepped behind the wheel for several weeks, taking a break for Bristol to handle his own car for Faith Motorsports, which didn't make the field. RCR and Shepherd formed Shepherd Racing Ventures on August 31 to keep the #21 running the rest of the year. Bowyer drove with Zaxby's sponsorship at Atlanta, Richmond, Charlotte, and Texas while Shepherd ran an unsponsored #21 car, the other 7 races. Shepherd returned to his Faith Motorsports operation full-time and RCR shut this team down. RCR later transferred the #21 owners points to Shepherd. In 2011, RCR briefly restarted its Nationwide program, running a few races with development driver Tim George, Jr. and sponsorship from Applebee's. In 2012, the #21 ran at Charlotte and Homestead with Joey Coulter. The car returned in 2013 with Dakoda Armstrong, Brendan Gaughan, and Kevin Harvick driving, taking a best finish of 5th with Harvick at Indianapolis
Car No. 29 history
The 29 car appeared in 2005 at Bristol Motor Speedway as part of a promotion for Reese's Chocolate and Peanut Butter Lovers Cups. The promotion involved the 29 painted as the Chocolate Lovers car and the 21 painted as the Peanut Butter Lovers car. The plan was for Jeff Burton to drive the 29 while Kevin Harvick would drive the 21. Qualifying was rained out, so the entries were switched to assure that both cars would make the field (Harvick was a past champion and the #29 was not locked in). Burton drove the 21 while Harvick drove the 29. Harvick won the race in this car with Burton finishing second in the 21. Later in the season, Mayflower Transit came on to sponsor Burton after a seven-year relationship with him.
On March 17, 2006, Holiday Inn announced its sponsorship of the 29 for ten races with Burton returning as its driver. The new car made its 2006 debut at Richmond. Burton finished in the top ten seven out of the ten times the car raced in 2006, including a win at Dover in June. Burton started 36th after qualifying was rained out, and passed Kurt Busch with 18 laps to go.
In 2007, the #29 went full-time and, like the #21 several years before, Childress set out to win the owners' championship for a second time without a full-time driver. Burton and Scott Wimmer, who had just lost a Sprint Cup Series ride due to lack of sponsorship, shared the #29 with Holiday Inn sponsoring. Burton won five times including the finale at Homestead and Wimmer put together several strong finishes in his time in the car, and Childress had his second Busch Series owners' championship in which no full-time driver raced for the team.
Holiday Inn signed a multi-year extension near the end of 2007, with Scott Wimmer signing on for 23 races, and Burton filling out the rest. The new deal also brought on branding from Holiday Inn Express, which included commercials featuring Burton. Burton had two poles, but also had two DNFs and went winless in 13 starts. Wimmer, meanwhile had a pole at Bristol and 13 top 10s. This included a win at Nashville, where he went by teammate Clint Bowyer with 21 laps to go to take the victory. Scott left the team following the 2008 season.
The 2009 season saw a change in driver lineup for the #29 team. Longtime driver Jeff Burton was joined by Cup teammate and 2008 Nationwide Series Champion Clint Bowyer, as well as and up and comer Stephen Leicht. Bowyer's championship crew chief Dan Deeringhoff also moved from the #2 team over to the 29 for all three drivers. After seeing Burton's name on the window of the car during a photoshoot (Burton being the longest tenured in the 29), the three drivers entered into a competition between each other: whoever could score the most wins in the 17 races between February and July would have their name placed on the car for the remainder of the season, including the other drivers appearances. Burton was set to drive 7 events in the first half of the season, Bowyer in 6 events including the opener at Daytona International Speedway, and Leicht at four standalone events. The drivers did not have as much success as anticipated; Bowyer scored the teams only two wins (the 2nd races at both Daytona and Dover), Burton had 10 top 10s but only two top 5's, and Leicht had 6 top 10s in nine total starts with a best finish of 6th (twice). Burton also made his 300th career Nationwide Series start at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. After 2009, RCR shut down the team after Holiday Inn pulled its sponsorship.
Car No. 33 History
For 2012, the No. 33 car was transferred to RCR to run for the owners championship. 2011 champion Tony Stewart drove the #33 with sponsorship from Nabisco's Oreo and Ritz brands at the season opener in Daytona, Harvick ran 13 races with South Point, Pinnacle Foods, Hunt Brothers Pizza and AdvancePierre Foods sponsoring, Brendan Gaughan drove for 10 races with South Point sponsoring, Menard ran for 7 races, and Max Papis drove at Road America, both with sponsorship from Menards and Rheem. Harvick would be the only driver to win in the No. 33, winning at Richmond and Texas.
The 33 car returned in 2013 mainly driven by Harvick and Ty Dillon. Stewart would take the 33 team to victory lane at the season opener at Daytona, which was marred by a last lap incident. The 33 team would take its second and last win of the season with Harvick at Atlanta. Paul Menard, Max Papis, Truck series driver Matt Crafton, and Ryan Gifford all took turns driving the car with MENARDS sponsorship.
Car No. 62 History
In 2014, Brendan Gaughan and crew chief Shane Wilson moved up from the Truck Series to the Nationwide Series, bringing family-owned South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa and longtime number 62 with him. The team used the owners points of the No. 33 team from 2013; the No. 33 scaled back to part-time. Gaughan scored his first career Nationwide win at Road America in June, after struggling early and sliding off the track on several occasions, but gaining an advantage as downpours forced the competitors to switch to treaded rain tires. When pole-sitter Alex Tagliani ran out of fuel before a Green-White-Checkered finish, Gaughan assumed the lead and fended off Chase Elliott and a hard-charging Tagliani (on fresh slick tires). Brendan dedicated the win to his late grandfather Jackie Gaughan. Gaughan scored his second win of the season at Kentucky in September, passing teammate Ty Dillon on the final restart. Gaughan scored a total of seven top tens to finish eighth in points.
Gaughan and South Point returned for 2015. At Richmond in May, two pit crew members from the 62 team were injured in a fire when fuel from a malfunctioning gas can ignited. The next week, Gaughan was involved in a crash at Talladega that sent the 62 car spinning down pit road, injuring two crew members from Biagi-DenBeste Racing.
Camping World Truck Series
Truck No. 2 History
For 2012, RCR took over the #2 truck of KHI that won the Owners Championship in 2011. The truck was split by Tim George, Jr. running 12 races with Applebee's sponsoring, with a best finish of 9th, Brendan Gaughan ran 7 races with a best finish of 2nd, and Harvick ran at both Martinsville races and Dover, winning at the spring Martinsville race. George, Jr. was set to run another partial season in 2013, but he deicded to move to Wauters Motorsports instead.
Truck No. 3 History
In the infant years of the CWTS (then known as the SuperTruck Series), RCR fielded its own truck team, the No. 3 Goodwrench Chevy. Mike Skinner drove the truck the initial two years, winning the series first championship in 1995 along with 16 races. After he left, Jay Sauter hopped on board, winning four times and finishing in the top 10 in points all three years. He was the last driver to win for RCR in the Camping World Truck Series, until July 11, 2010 when Childress's grandson, Austin Dillon, won the Lucas Oil 200 at Iowa Speedway. After 1999, Childress moved the program up to the NASCAR Busch Series.
The truck team returned during the 2009 season as the #3 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Childress's grandson, Austin Dillon for the inaugural race at Iowa Speedway. Dillon would start 9th and finish 12th despite an early spin.
In 2010, Dillon drove the #3 truck full-time sponsored by Bass Pro Shops. Austin won an impressive 5 poles, 2 wins (Iowa and Vegas), and had 15 top tens en route to a 5th-place finish in the championship and the 2010 ROTY award.
In 2011, Dillon drove the #3 truck to two wins at Nashville and Chicago, winning the championship over Johnny Sauter. After winning the Truck Series championship, Austin moved up to the Nationwide Series, passing down the #3 truck to his brother Ty Dillon for 2012. Ty would take his first win at Atlanta and nearly won the championship at Homestead before crashing while battling Kyle Larson. Ty finished 4th in standings.
Truck No. 39 History
In 2013 RCR purchased the #39 owners points from RSS Racing, Austin Dillon was chosen to drive the #39 for the inaugural Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway, leading a race-high 63 laps, and won after a green-white-checker finish. The truck, the trophy and the famed piece of dirt track are on display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The #39 owners points were sold back to RSS Racing
Truck No. 62 History
Childress' second truck entry debuted in 2011 with Joey Coulter behind the wheel of the #22. Coulter stayed consistent throughout the year, having the least DNF's among all other rookies. Coulter would eventually prevail over Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Parker Kligerman to win Rookie of the Year. Coulter would get his first win in the Pocono Mountains 125 at Pocono Raceway, his first win in 36 attempts in the Camping World Truck Series.
For 2013, Truck Series veteran Brendan Gaughan drove the truck, now numbered 62, for the full season. Gaughan would come close to finding victory lane on multiple occasions, scoring 10 top 5s and 13 top 10s to finish 7th in points. Gaughan and the #62 team moved up to the Nationwide series in 2014.
RCR has featured a strong development program since the 1990s that has groomed several NASCAR regulars, most notably 2014 Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress' own grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon. Other notable former development drivers include Johnny Sauter, Mike Skinner, Timothy Peters, John Wes Townley, Joey Coulter, and Ryan Gifford.
K&N Pro Series & ARCA Racing Series
RCR fielded a 31 car in the ARCA Racing Series in 2006, with Kevin Harvick Incorporated driver Burney Lamar running three races and RCR development driver Timothy Peters running one. The car returned in 2007 in six races, with Peters, Alex Yontz, and Tim McCreadie, scoring three top ten finishes.
In 2008, Austin Dillon ran the full Camping World East Series (now K&N Pro Series East) schedule in the #3 Garage Equipment Supply Chevrolet. Initially driving for Andy Santerre Motorsports, Dillon moved under the RCR umbrella after four races. Dillon scored a win in his series debut at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (after Peyton Sellers winning car was disqualified) and finished second in points. Dillon also ran a single ARCA Racing Series event at Rockingham Speedway, finishing seventh in the #31 Chevrolet.
The 3 car ran five East Series races in 2009 sponsored by longtime RCR partner Mom N' Pops, with Austin Dillon running two races and brother Ty Dillon running three. Ryan Gifford ran four races in the East Series in the 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet with 3 top 10s, and made one start in the West Series. Austin also ran three ARCA races in the #31, with two second-place finishes. Kyle Grissom, son of Steve Grissom, drove the car at Rockingham to a 16th-place finish.
Ty Dillon ran eight of the ten K&N East Series races in 2010, scoring a win at Gresham Motorsports Park. Dillon also ran three ARCA races, scoring two victories in the #41 Chevrolet. The team also fielded the #31 Chevy full-time in ARCA for Tim George, Jr., finishing 9th in points with five top 10 finishes. Dillon moved full-time in the ARCA Series in 2011 along with George, Jr. Dillon won the ARCA championship with an impressive seven wins and seven poles. George improved to 7th in points and scored a weather-shortened win at Pocono.
Following the 2007 Daytona 500, the paint scheme of Kevin Harvick's winning #29 car infuriated NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco, particularly the large Shell Oil logos on the car and team uniforms. Harvick had also worn his Shell firesuit during the Busch Series race he won the day before. Sunoco believed its exclusive rights to provide fuel to the sport also gave them exclusive marketing rights to gasoline, with other companies' limited to marketing secondary products such as motor oil. The 29 team altered its paint scheme the following week with smaller Shell decals, and larger emphasis of co-sponsor Pennzoil. It is to note that Sunoco sponsored Billy Hagan's race team from 1989-1992 with Sterling Marlin and Terry Labonte while Unocal 76 was the fuel supplier. Shell/Pennzoil remains in the sport with Team Penske's #22.
Meanwhile, AT&T had repeatedly requested that NASCAR allow them to advertise the AT&T Mobility brand on the #31 car following their merger with Cingular Wireless, but NASCAR refused to allow it, citing the Sprint Nextel contract. Cingular and Alltel (the sponsor of Team Penske's #12) had been grandfathered in when NEXTEL entered the sport in 2004, with the drivers wearing white NEXTEL Cup Series logos on their fire suits, but the change in ownership of the former led Sprint to contest the sponsorship. After trying and failing to get NASCAR to approve the addition of the globe logo to the rear of the car, AT&T filed a lawsuit against NASCAR on March 16, 2007. On May 18, a federal judge ruled that AT&T should be allowed to replace the Cingular logos with AT&T logos, and said that AT&T was likely to win the lawsuit. The AT&T logo ran on the #31 at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup All-Star Challenge on May 19 and so far ever since then until NASCAR ordered the sponsorship off before the 2007 Sharpie 500. RCR and Jeff Burton went a step further, with Burton showing up in a logo-less firesuit, and the black and orange car ran without Cingular or AT&T logos. A settlement before the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 was made where AT&T Mobility could sponsor the car until the end of 2008.
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