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Richard Childress Racing finalizes 2017 driver, crew chief lineups

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Richard Childress Racing will return all three of its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers in 2017 while fielding five cars in the Xfinity Series.

Austin Dillon (No. 3), Paul Menard (No. 27) and Ryan Newman (No. 31) are back in the Cup Series.  Richard “Slugger” Labbe, Matt Borland and Luke Lambert will work with each driver respectively.

All three teams will be seeking to end a winless streak for RCR that stretches back to 2013 when Kevin Harvick was still with the organization.

In the Xfinity Series, RCR will have multiple drivers piloting the No. 2 and No. 3 cars. Menard and Austin Dillon will be the primary drivers of the No. 2. Ty Dillon, who will drive the No. 13 Cup car for Germain Racing full-time, will drive the No. 3 along with unannounced drivers.

The No. 2 team won three races in 2016 with Austin Dillon and Michael McDowell.

Crew chief Justin Alexander will lead the No. 2 team in his second season and the No. 3 team will be led by rookie Matt Swiderski. A 10-year veteran of RCR’s engineering department, Swiderski made his debut in the 2016 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, in which the No. 3 team finished second.

Veteran Brendan Gaughan will be back for his sixth full-time Xfinity season and his fourth with RCR. Gaughan, 41, qualified for the inaugural Xfinity Chase before being eliminated in the third round. Gaughan is once again paired with crew chief Shane Wilson for their 12th season.

Brandon Jones returns to the No. 33 team with crew chief Nick Harrison. Jones finished his rookie campaign 10th in the point standings after earning 12 top 10s. Jones’ only NASCAR win in 94 starts came in the K&N Pro Series East in 2014.

New to the RCR family is Daniel Hemric, who will drive the No. 21 after spending two seasons in the Camping World Truck Series, including driving for Brad Keselowski Racing in 2016. Hemric has yet to win a Truck race.

Hemric will be working with crew chief Danny Stockman, who has won two NASCAR titles with Austin Dillon in the Xfinity and Truck series.

NASCAR’s preliminary entry lists for Richmond International Raceway

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NASCAR makes its first visit of the year to Richmond International Raceway this weekend as the Cup and Xfinity Series compete on the .75-mile track.

Cup teams will hold the Toyota Owners 400 while Xfinity teams gear up for the ToyotaCares 250.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for both races.

Cup Series – Toyota Owners 400

There are 38 cars on the entry list for the Cup race.

Last year, Carl Edwards won this race with a bump-and-run on teammate Kyle Busch on the final turn. Busch had led 78 laps in the race before Edwards, who led 151 laps, powered his way to the victory.

Denny Hamlin won the fall race from the pole after leading 189 laps.

Click here for the full entry list.

Xfinity Series – ToyotaCares 250

Five Cup drivers are among the 42 cars entered into the race, including: Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson.

The race is the third Dash 4 Cash race of the year, meaning Cup drivers with five years or more experience are not eligible to compete in the race.

Last year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won this race after leading 128 of 149 laps. Kyle Busch won the fall race after leading 197 of 250 laps.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR, sports world reacts to Dale Earnhardt Jr. retirement announcement

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Tuesday morning’s news that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will retire from NASCAR at the end of the 2017 season has sent earthquake-like shock waves throughout the sports world, as well as the social media universe.

Earnhardt will formally announce his retirement at a press conference later this afternoon, which will be covered thoroughly by us at NASCAR Talk.

Here’s some of the top posts from social media on Junior’s bombshell announcement (we’ll be updating throughout the day, so please check back):








Dale Earnhardt Jr. retiring from NASCAR after 2017 season


Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced Tuesday morning that he is retiring from NASCAR after this season.

In a release from Hendrick Motorsports, the team said the 14-time most popular driver will discuss the decision at a news conference today at 3 p.m.

Here is the release from the team.

CONCORD, N.C. (April 25, 2017) – After 18 seasons and more than 600 races behind the wheel, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will bring his NASCAR Cup Series driving career to a close at the conclusion of 2017. Today, he shared the news with members of his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team.

The fan favorite and two-time Daytona 500 champion will discuss his decision in a press conference this afternoon. He will be joined by Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, for whom Earnhardt has driven since 2008. The two first met about the driver’s decision on March 29.

Earnhardt, who will turn 43 in October, made his first career Cup Series start on May 30, 1999, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Since then, the Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has captured 26 points-paying Cup race wins and been voted by fans as NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver a record 14 consecutive years. He has qualified for the NASCAR playoffs eight times.

Now in the midst of his 18th full-time season at the elite Cup level, Earnhardt made his 600th career series start on March 26 at Fontana, California. He will compete in his final NASCAR Cup Series race on Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Hendrick Motorsports will announce plans for its 2018 team alignment at a later date.

After missing the last 18 races of the 2016 season while recovering from concussion symptoms, Earnhardt returned for the season-opening Daytona 500. He repeatedly has said he would take about two months to decide if he wanted to continue driving beyond 2017, the final year of his contract at Hendrick Motorsports.

Earnhardt finished 38th Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway, his fourth finish of 30th or worse in the first eight races of the 2017 season. He fell to 24th in the Cup points standings.

The 14-time most popular driver finished 38th in Monday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, crashing on a Lap 218 restart after an apparent problem with his oil cooler under caution. He lost four spots in the rankings and is 50 points behind the current cutoff for qualiyfing for the 16-driver playoff on points.

Earnhardt hinted the news was coming in an early morning tweet Tuesday.

NASCAR America: Jimmie Johnson’s patience propels him to victory lane in Food City 500

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Jimmie Johnson is known for his patience behind the wheel. Where other drivers may get too hot under the collar and over-react, Johnson is typically cool as a cucumber — and that’s helped lead him to many of his 82 career NASCAR Cup wins.

That patience once again played out in Johnson’s win Monday in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, only his second career triumph (and first in seven years) at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”

On Monday’s NASCAR America, Greg Biffle and Kyle Petty discussed Johnson’s patience throughout Monday’s race.