What’s Happening?

On the surface, RCR winning three races and new acquisition Kyle Busch making the Playoffs looked like a successful season. By these measures, 2023 was a fairly successful season for RCR. But, their momentum faltered late, leading us to question whether or not RCR is in trouble heading into 2024.

  • Kyle Busch carried the torch for the team with three wins and made it to the Round of 12. However, he stumbled late in the season to finish 14th in the standings.
  • Austin Dillon had an abysmal season with his worst points finish of his career. He only had 1 top-5 and 7 top-10s in 2023.
  • Fans are curious to see how RCR does in 2024. With Jesse Love waiting in the wings, many wonder what Austin Dillon’s future looks like. With Kyle Busch stepping away from a few business ventures, how will his renewed focus fare in 2024?

A Look at How the 2023 Season Ended

The 2023 season was a tale of two halves for Kyle Busch. He won 3 of the first 15 races, and he had 12 top-10s with 7 top-5s in the first 19 races to go along with three wins. After Atlanta in July, Busch was 3rd in points, only 35 points behind William Byron. Busch was a regular-season Championship contender.

Following that race, he hit a snag. He recorded only 5 top-10s and 3 top-5s in the final 17 races with no wins. His collapse was so bad that he finished 14th in points, which was Busch’s worst points finish since his rookie season in 2005. He also only led 241 laps, the fewest of his entire career

Some of those races were crashes and DNFs, but, others were pit road mistakes or just being outright slow. Busch finished two laps down in 20th at Bristol, a track he has won at 7 times throughout his career.

As for Austin Dillon, he was consistently bad all season long. His average start (20.0), average finish (21.8), and points finish (29th) were all the worst of his career. Sure, his standards are not Kyle Busch’s standards, but, Dillon had only missed the Playoffs twice over the previous 7 seasons before 2023.

For both drivers, the end result was a season that featured some career lows. Now, was this on par with RCR’s history, or, was this an overall downward trend?

A Look Back at 2022

2022 was a big year for Richard Childress Racing. They won four races (Tyler Reddick had 3 and Austin Dillon had 1) and both drivers qualified for the Playoffs. It was the first time since 2017 that multiple RCR drivers made the Playoffs, and it was RCR’s highest win total since Kevin Harvick won 4 races in his final RCR season in 2013.

Overall, 2023 was a small step backward for RCR. Kyle Busch had slightly more top-10s with a slightly better average finish, but he matched Tyler Reddick in wins, top-5s, and points finish. Austin Dillon took three giant steps backward in 2022 as he regressed in literally every meaningful stat category (wins, top-5s, top-10s, points finish, laps led, average start, average finish, DNFs, and lead lap finishes).

Busch about equaled Reddick, which, was either a disappointment or meh given Busch’s pedigree as a two-time Champion and a 63-time winner. Dillon regressed, and there is no way to spin it another way.

What’s New for 2024?

There is a little bit of news at RCR in 2024. The executive lineup shuffled as Andy Petree became the Executive Vice President, Justin Alexander was promoted to Competition Director, and Eric Kominek was promoted to Cup Series and Xfinity Series Technical Director.

However, the driver and crew chief lineup remains the same for 2024 in the Cup Series. The only new driver is Jesse Love moving up to the Xfinity Series. Chevy is also the only manufacturer without a new body for 2024, so, RCR is not even getting a new car for 2024.

Given how little is changing at RCR and the fact that they were at best, the same and, at worst, worse in 2023 overall, could this team be in trouble? It’s possible they could be in trouble.

Keep in mind that Kyle Busch has regressed as a driver since winning a Championship in 2019. He has not made a Championship 4 since 2019, and he has finished outside of the top 10 in the standings two seasons in a row.

This team did not end 2023 on a good trend, and there is nothing to suggest anything will change in 2024. However, the first 19 races of Kyle Busch’s season show what this team can be. Can they recapture that? If not, this team could be in trouble heading into 2024.