Richard Childress

NASCAR America: Newman’s strategy worked to perfection in Phoenix win

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Ryan Newman was one of three drivers that stayed out during the final caution in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Phoenix.

The strategy worked to perfection as Newman went on to win the Camping World 500 in overtime, his first Cup triumph since the 2013 Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis.

It was also the first Cup win for Richard Childress Racing since November 2013, also at Phoenix.

Richard Childress celebrates in Cup victory lane for first time since 2013

Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images
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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.

Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. all stayed out. For the final two laps of the overtime finish, Newman had “to guard off a bunch of wolves” on fresh tires, Lambert said.

From his infield perch, Childress watched Newman power down the backstretch for the last time with Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch desperate for an opening.

“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.”

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‘Only in America’: Richard Childress cherishes Hall of Fame induction (Video)

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CHARLOTTE — Richard Childress traced his Dickensian rise from humble beginnings to six championships in NASCAR’s premier series during his Hall of Fame induction speech Friday.

Childress, who grew up in poverty in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, won six championships in NASCAR’s premier series with fellow high school dropout Dale Earnhardt. After starting as an independent driver-owner who never won in a dogged career from 1968-81, Childress switched to focusing solely on running a team.

His grandson, Austin Dillon, now drives the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing that Earnhardt made famous.

“Only in America could a kid selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman Gray Stadium have a dream of becoming a race driver some day,” Childress said. “And then he goes out and buys him an old ’47 Plymouth (and) pays $20 for it — that was the best investment I ever made — and have a dream of being a NASCAR driver some day, be standing up here tonight to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Only in America.  What a great country we live in.”

During his speech, Childress made several references to a wall he’d like to put in the stock-car museum to signify all those who paved the way for his success.

“I’d like to put a 10‑foot by 20‑foot granite wall with thousands of names etched in it that’s helped me all along the way to get here tonight,” he said. “I can’t thank you all, but I want to put you on a great granite wall to where I can thank you for getting us up here.

“But on that granite wall, the first thing would be my family.  My wife Judy, my daughter Tina, my son‑in‑law, Mike Dillon, grandson Ty and his wife Haley, she’s here tonight.  Grandson Austin and his fiancé, Whitney Ward.  I couldn’t have done it without you all’s support.  We are a NASCAR racing family.”

Benny Parsons’ Hall of Fame induction an emotional celebration

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Terri Parsons wasn’t going to watch the video honoring her late husband, Benny Parsons, as she stood backstage moments before accepting the honor of his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

She was afraid to watch the video Friday night because this had been such an emotional week.

Ten years ago Monday, Benny Parsons died. Now, four days later, NASCAR celebrated the 1973 champion with its highest honor, as he joined Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Raymond Parks and Mark Martin in the Hall’s eighth class.

In between those days were memories, stories, laughter and tears.

“It’s just been a roller-coaster ride,’’ Terri Parsons told NBC Sports.

This week brought a flood of friends, crew chiefs, crew members and drivers sharing stories of Benny. Some, Terri had never heard.

Martin told her about the time in 1978 that his dad contacted Benny to ask what they could do to help Martin’s chances of reaching NASCAR.

Benny told them to come to Ellerbe, North Carolina, and they’d talk. He took them to lunch and offered his advice.

“Can you imagine?’’ Martin told NBC Sports, recounting what the former champion did for him. “Yeah, come on down and I’ll take you to lunch. That’s unbelievable.’’

That was Benny, friends said.

Ricky Craven bought the farm Benny once owned. The conversation started when Craven won a pole award and Benny presented it. Craven said he wanted to buy the farm. A few weeks later, Craven won another pole and said the same thing to Benny.

Benny agreed to it. But what price? Benny said they would get someone to appraise the land and that would be the price Craven would pay. It’s a standard Craven says he’s used even these days when selling items to friends.

Perhaps one of the greatest signs of Benny’s impact on those around him was that 1973 season finale at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. He couldn’t avoid a wrecked car in front of him and tore off the right side of his car. His crew and others helped rebuild the right side so he could complete enough laps to win the title.

“You can’t say enough good about him,’’ said Waddell Wilson, the engine builder for Benny that championship season. “He was a gentlemen’s gentlemen. He was one you’ll never forget.’’

Brad Keselowski, who introduced the video segment on Benny, told Terri how Benny had been such an influence and hero to him.

She didn’t know that.

It’s not surprising. There are many more stories of Benny Parsons. A friend of those in the garage and an advocate for the fans, his popularity soared through his racing and TV career with ESPN, TNT and NBC. Fans embraced him, placing him on their Hall of Fame ballot each of the past six years, longer than any other nominee.

Backstage, Keselowski and Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett convinced Terri Parsons to watch the video. Soon the memories returned, seeing the smile and hearing that sweet, melodious Southern voice.

Then it was time for her to go on stage. The last thing she wanted to be was emotional.

As she stood before the crowded ballroom, Terri Parsons wanted to make sure everyone knew how important they were to Benny.

“The most important thing about tonight for him would be the people and especially the fans, understand how much they meant to him and how much he loved each and every one of you,’’ Terri Parsons said. “You all have such great stories, and tonight is really a celebration of his life. This is not sad, this is happy.  I’m the only one that’s sad.’’

Her voice quivered again.

When she exited the stage, she went to her seat on the front row with the other inductees. She sat down in front of seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.

He rubbed her back and told her: “Terri, it’s fine. It’s good to show emotion.’’

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RCR looks back at Richard Childress’ career in nine-part video series

Photo by Jamey Price/Getty Images for NASCAR
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Richard Childress appeared on the NASCAR scene in 1969 when made his first of 285 starts in the Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway.

Tonight, Childress will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a six-time Cup champion as owner of Richard Childress Racing.

To commemorate the moment, RCR has produced nine short videos looking back at Childress’ career.

The videos, including interviews with Childress, reflect on the many first from his racing career, from his first race car to his first championship with Dale Earnhardt.

Childress also discusses the first win with Kevin Harvick in 2001 a few weeks after Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the Daytona 500.

Childress will be inducted with Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin, Benny Parsons and Raymond Parks.

The ceremony can been seen at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

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