The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season began like a feast for Richard Childress Racing.

It ended like a famine.

And the part in the middle? That was pretty sparse, too.

So what will 2024 hold for the organization founded by six-time NASCAR Cup Series champion team owner Richard Childress?

That remains to be seen, of course, but it can’t hurt anything that the team’s flagship driver, two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, now has a year under his belt with the organization after spending his previous 15 years in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

It also can’t hurt that RCR’s other Cup Series driver, Austin Dillon — the oldest grandson of the team’s NASCAR Hall of Fame team owner — has nowhere to go but up after slogging through a 2023 season that was easily the most disappointing of his decade-old career as a full-time driver in NASCAR’s top series.

The fact that neither Busch nor Dillon had the kind of 2023 they wanted, coupled with the fact that the two teammates had never worked together prior to last year, makes it seem highly plausible that both will enjoy a notable uptick in performance in 2024.

For Busch, a notable improvement would mean winning more than three races, establishing more consistency, and advancing deeper into the playoffs after a Round of 12 elimination a year ago.

“For us to go out and win, I feel like that was really good,” Busch said of his debut season with RCR. “We’re building on a notebook and building on our program to be able to get ready to go back to some of these places for a second time in 2024. So, I’d like to think this year can be even better.”

For Dillon, improvement would mean winning at least one race and making the playoffs after being shut out of Victory Lane in 2023 and finishing a career-worst 29th in the Cup Series standings. That was 15 spots worse than teammate Busch, whose 14th-place points finish was his worst since his rookie Cup Series season of 2005.

“I think we’re capable of winning races and being in the playoffs,” Dillon said. “Hopefully, this year, we’re both in it, we’re both fighting together and we have more shots at it.”

Busch, who replaced Tyler Reddick in RCR’s No. 8 Chevrolet ahead of the 2023 season, was expected to boost the results of the company as a whole — not just the No. 8 team — due to his long history of success that includes not only Cup Series championships in 2015 and 2019 but also 63 wins at NASCAR’s highest level.

According to Dillon, Busch did have a major impact — even if it didn’t always show up in the organization’s on-track results.

“We just had times we weren’t any good,” Dillon said. “The good thing with having Kyle, he kind of righted the ship for our whole company this year and did a really good job. I think we can learn something from that.”

Busch learned a lot about RCR in 2023 as he became more acclimated with the company, its culture, and the people around him. One of those people is crew chief Randall Burnett, who returns this year for a fourth season atop the No. 8 pit box and a second season with Busch.

Together, Busch and Burnett collected a trio of trophies last season — the same number Burnett won with Reddick in 2022 — but Busch’s victories (at Auto Club Speedway, Talladega and World Wide Technology Raceway) all came before the season’s midway point.

As they continue to build chemistry, both driver and crew chief are aiming to make sure that their 2024 starts and finishes on an equally strong note.

“It’s tough because you sit in a room and you talk about all the negative, right?” Busch said. “You’ve just gotta go, ‘What didn’t work? What was wrong? What was missing?’ And all that stuff and just, ‘This, this, this, this, this we need to fix.’ And there was like, ‘OK, well, what did we do good? What did we have good?’ And it was like, ‘Not a whole lot, you know?’

“But that’s the times in which you’ve got to be tough — Randall and them tough on me, and me tough on them. All of that.”

Dillon, despite being a part of RCR his entire life as the grandson of the team’s founder, struggled at times last season to get on the same page with his first-year crew chief, Keith Rodden, who returns to Dillon’s No. 3 war wagon in 2024.

“We’re still growing our relationship,” Dillon said. “But what I’ve learned about him is he’s not going to give up on me. And you know, when times are like that, when you make it out the other side, your relationships are better.”

With better communication between crew chief and driver, Dillon — a four-time winner at the Cup Series level — hopes to return to Victory Lane for the first time since August 2022 at Daytona, where he raced his way into the playoffs in the regular season finale.

Above all, though, Busch and Dillon want to propel RCR to its first Cup Series championship in 30 years. The organization’s most recent title came in 1994 when the late Dale Earnhardt captured the last of his record-tying seven Cup Series championships.

Is RCR poised to return to NASCAR’s Promised Land for the first time in three decades?

Stay tuned.