In 2008, all three RCR drivers made the Chase for the Championship. This year, none of his four teams are in contention.
His race team may be in a down period, but Richard Childress has been through this before.
A man doesn't spend 40 years of his life in the business of racing and not know there are going to be rough spots, and this is one.
In 2008, all three RCR drivers made the Chase for the Championship.
This year, none of his four teams are in contention.
In a story grading teams at mid-season in the Indianapolis Star on Thursday, reporter Steve Ballard gave RCR a D.
"The biggest thing that a lot of people overlook is we were running pretty good," Childress said. "I just had stats looked up, and Jeff Burton has been in four crashes in a row - that's more than he's wrecked in two years. Kevin Harvick, we've had nine crashes this year, which is more than he's tore up in three years. And these guys aren't going out wrecking the cars, they're still great drivers, but it's the unfortunate things that happen in front of you.
"Definitely our performance is off a little, but it's not a D, if they take in factors of everything that's happened."
Childress teams are 15th (Clint Bowyer), 17th (Caterpillar-sponsored Burton), 22nd (Casey Mears) and 25th (Harvick). Mears is the newcomer, added this year.
"I was hoping that as competitive in the last two years as our other three teams have been that it would help bring the fourth team along very quick," said Childress. "We've asked ourselves, 'Did the fourth team bring that down?' but then you look at where we would be if we hadn't had the crashes and would be in pretty decent shape. We've had some good runs on the track only to be taken away by crashes."
But the bad luck and difficult situations have compounded to cause unrest in the ranks. Burton on Friday called conditions within the team "a little bit of chaos at the moment."
Rumors surfaced in the past week that Harvick wants to leave RCR at the end of this season. Childress responded adamantly that both the driver and his sponsor, Shell-Pennzoil, will be at RCR through next season. But once a sentiment like that is uttered, the situation usually doesn't end well.
"We've talked," said Childress of Harvick. "He's going to be here in 2010, Shell's going to be here. When you're down and you're weak, everybody tries to make a lot more of everything than is really there. He's not happy - none of us are happy with where we're running or where we're sitting in the points.
"If you look at the points, we are a D team. If you look at the complete performance of the year and where our cars have been running, we're definitely higher up than that."
In spite of the difficulty this year has brought, there have been some bright spots. Childress is one of 25 nominees for the first class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
"Just to have your name mentioned among those other 24 greats of the sport is a huge honor," Childress said. "Very unexpected."
He's enjoying his relationship with team-sponsor Caterpillar, a product he owns and operates on ranches and homes in Montana and North Carolina.
"I just did an autograph session recently in Billings Mont., at a Cat dealer and I signed autographs for solid two hours straight," he said. "The support that people give Cat - they know somebody that has a Cat and or works with Cat equipment and it's amazing."
And Childress is celebrating his 40th anniversary in the sport this season. He started as a driver in 1969 and retired from that part of the business in 1981. His drivers have won 184 races and six championships (all by Dale Earnhardt) and he was named NASCAR Owner of the Year by Sporting News in 2006.
Last year, he was the recipient of the Home Depot Humanitarian Award for his part in establishing the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
"I would have never dreamed I'd have been here 40 years," said Childress. "It's challenging right now a lot of the stuff that's been going on but I've been through this before. We had some tough, tough years with Dale and we always came back and won a championship after those years and I think we're going to be stronger before the year's over, but it isn't easy. When you're down, people want to keep you down it's just the way it is and this will show how strong an organization is.
"When you've been to the top - we've been there - and things are going along just fine, everybody's happy and content. As soon as there's problem, everyone wants to make it a bigger issue."
Jane Miller is the Peoria Journal Star motorsports columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.