CREW CHIEF: Luke Lambert
TEAM: Richard Childress Racing
TOP 5s: 5
TOP 10s: 15
LAPS LED: 20
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Ryan Newman had an almost identical year to 2014 performance-wise, but there were key differences. In 2014, he failed to win a race, had five top-five and 16 top-10 finishes, made the Chase and finished a surprising second behind champion Kevin Harvick. In 2015, he again failed to win a race (he hasn’t reached Victory Lane since the 2013 Brickyard 400), had five top-five and 15 top-10 finishes. He qualified for the Chase, but unlike the previous season failed to reach the final round, finishing the season in 11th place. Despite mediocre numbers overall, Newman continued to be a picture of consistency, with 28 lead-lap finishes.
WHAT WENT WRONG: After the outstanding finish in 2014, expectations were high not only for Newman’s team, but the entire RCR organization. Sure, Newman and teammate Paul Menard both made the Chase in 2015 (the first time Menard has ever done so), but all three RCR teams underachieved in the big picture, with its two Chase entrants failing to do much once they reached the playoffs. … RCR has now gone 21 seasons since its last Sprint Cup championship (Dale Earnhardt, 1994). … With the exception of Kevin Harvick’s nine combined wins between 2011 and 2013, no other RCR driver has visited Victory Lane since Paul Menard’s surprising win in the 2011 Brickyard 400. That’s nearly 4 ½ years!
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2016: What happens in 2016 could have a significant impact upon RCR’s future. Will Childress grandson Ty Dillon be ready to be brought up to the Cup level in 2017? If so, does RCR expand to a fourth team, or are Newman and Menard on the hot seat to significantly up their performance – or potentially lose their seat for 2017? There are already rumors that the younger Dillon may drive for Joe Falk or Harry Scott (replacing Clint Bowyer after his one-year stint in 2016 before moving to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017) in the Sprint Cup Series in 2017 if there is no room (or money for him) in the RCR inn.