As Ryan Newman took the checkered flag in the Camping World 500, Fox cameras caught Richard Childress on top of Paul Menard‘s hauler doing something he hadn’t done after a Cup race in almost four years.
Flashing a winner’s smile.
Since November 2013, Childress has gotten to show it off 13 times. On 12 occasions in the Xfinity Series and once in the Camping World Truck Series.
But until Newman’s victory Sunday, he hadn’t used in it celebration of a NASCAR Cup Series win since Kevin Harvick earned his final victory with Richard Childress Racing at Phoenix on Nov. 10, 2013.
In-between the victories were 112 races and Childress’ NASCAR Hall of Fame induction in January.
The 71-year-old won’t be back at the team’s shop this week, but Childress has every intention of expressing his gratitude to the team from across the country.
“I’m going to send them a WaxMail (an audio file program), because I still have business in California I got to do,” Childress said. “They will hear a lot from me tomorrow morning. Get on the speaker, tell everybody how proud I am.”
Since 2014, RCR cars had earned 26 top fives between its three entries of Newman, Austin Dillon and Paul Menard without a win.
Childress said after a late-January test at Phoenix, RCR still “(wasn’t) where we wanted to be.
“(We) kept cutting bodies off, working seven days a week, working all kinds of hours to get our cars back to being competitive. It’s all about track position. Once (Newman) got out there, I knew he could go.”
Newman led the final six laps after crew chief Luke Lambert told his driver to stay out during a caution caused by Joey Logano.
“Man, if it sticks, it’s going to be good,” Childress thought as they approached Turn 3. “If it don’t, it’s going to be ugly.”
Lambert’s decision turned into Newman’s first win since he joined RCR in 2014. Newman is the eighth driver to win a Cup race for the man who has six Cup championships and as of Sunday, 106 Cup wins.
“It’s been a long, hard fight, and a battle all the way,” Childress said. “Nobody ever gave up. We never gave up in Ryan. We know that he can do it.”
The win capped off a weekend where engines built by Childress’ ECR operation finished 1-2-3 in the 12 Hours of Sebring.
“It’s a great day for us,” Childress said. “When Ryan was talking about this could be one of the sweeter wins that we’ve had, it’s because it’s been so long.”