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Toxicity at RCR? A History of Ugly RCR Exits

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Joshua Lipowski

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Drama surrounded Richard Childress Racing on Saturday night after teammates Austin Hill and Sheldon Creed tangled in the closing laps (Creed is leaving the team after the season). Team owner Richard Childress aired his grievances to the media along with Hill and team vice president Andy Petree was seen confronting Creed after the race before explaining his side on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio. This is not the first time that Richard Childress Racing has found themselves in an ugly split with a driver.

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2003: Jeff Green

Jeff Green joined RCR in the Cup Series in 2002 after three consecutive top-2 points finishes in the Xfinity Series including the 2000 Series Championship. He struggled during 2002, but hopes were high for 2003 after winning the pole for the Daytona 500. All hope was dashed that May at Richmond. After getting wrecked by teammate Kevin Harvick, Green aired his frustrations to the media after the race.

It’s one thing to get spun out. It’s another thing to get spun out by your teammate. Can’t hardly swallow that. Tough to be teammates when it seems like there’s only one car at RCR.”

Jeff Green to ESPN

Well, Green was subsequently fired from RCR that week. Ironically enough, he went to the team founded by the man who made RCR famous, Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, to drive the 1 car for the also-fired Steve Park. Park would then take over for Green in the 30-car for the remainder of the 2003 season.

Despite Green’s comments, his performance with RCR was far off from both teammates Robby Gordon and Kevin Harvick who were each winning races. We will never know exactly what happened behind the scenes, but, Green was not performing up to snuff.

2013: Kevin Harvick

The driver whose bump caused Jeff Green to make comments was the one in the middle of an RCR firestorm in 2013. Kevin Harvick had announced the previous offseason that he would be leaving the team he started his Cup career with to move on to Stewart-Haas Racing. It was later announced that Childress’ grandson, Austin Dillon would replace Harvick in the Cup Series with Austin’s brother Ty, filling the Xfinity Series seat.

Everything came to a head at Martinsville when Harvick and Ty Dillon got together late in a Craftsman Truck Series race. Harvick stopped in Dillon’s pit box, and Harvick later showed his displeasure to the Dillon brothers having “Everything fed to them with a spoon” which is why he was leaving RCR.

Well, Harvick’s leaving turned out to be a major blow to RCR. Harvick won four races in 2013, and RCR would win four races total over the next eight seasons. Meanwhile, Harvick would pad a Hall of Fame resume at Stewart-Haas Racing including the 2014 Series Championship.

It was the perfect example of history repeating itself. Except this time, RCR was getting the raw end of the deal.

2022: Tyler Reddick

In 2022, it finally seemed that RCR was turning a corner. Tyler Reddick was looking like the real deal, and, for the first time since Kevin Harvick, a driver won multiple races in a season for RCR. Well, Denny Hamlin showed up and poached Reddick from RCR for the 2024 season originally. Childress was not happy with the move as was evidenced by a subsequent press release.

We’re proud of the success Tyler Reddick has found at Richard Childress Racing. We’re focused on winning a Championship in 2022 and 2023, although the timing of this announcement could not be worse.

Richard Childress Racing Press Release

Well, it’s pretty clear that RCR was not thrilled with this announcement. Many race teams do not take kindly to drivers leaving for greener pastures, but rarely is it aired out in the media like this, especially in a team press release. The biggest thing of note here is that Reddick saw it fit to leave RCR for a reason.

Al Pearce of Autoweek also reported that Childress was “furious” at Reddick leaving. Again, a driver leaving RCR, but not leaving on great terms.

Is There Toxicity at RCR?

This Sheldon Creed story about leaving RCR not on great terms is not a new story. It has happened before, and it has been aired out publicly before. We do not know everything that is going on behind closed doors, but, incidents like this happen more often than at some other race teams.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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