News & Media


RCR will run No. 33 in first five races of 2012

January 26, 2012, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

WELCOME, N.C. -- Sadler to drive in Daytona 500, followed by Gaughan in remaining four races

The No. 33 car at Richard Childress Racing, which appeared to be shut down after driver Clint Bowyer moved on and the vehicle's primary sponsor scaled back, will ride again -- for the first five Sprint Cup events of 2012, at least.

RCR officials announced Wednesday night that they would field the car for the first five races of this coming season, with Elliott Sadler behind the wheel for Daytona 500 and Brendan Gaughan piloting it at Phoenix, Las Vegas, Bristol and Fontana. Sadler is competing full-time on the Nationwide tour this year for RCR, while Gaughan will race a limited schedule that currently includes 10 Nationwide and eight Camping World Truck Series events.

Gil Martin, crew chief for RCR Sprint Cup driver Kevin Harvick last season, will work in that same capacity on the No. 33. General Mills, which was the car's full-season primary backer last year with Bowyer -- who has since relocated to Michael Waltrip Racing -- will sponsor the car for the Daytona 500. South Point casino, which is owned by Gaughan's family, will sponsor the vehicle for the other four, although those events are available for further sponsorship.

"Richard called me into his office and told me, and man, I was blown away."

--ELLIOTT SADLER

The Daytona 500 will mark Sadler's first Sprint Cup start since the end of the 2010 season. Sadler was runner-up in the 2002 Daytona 500 for the Wood Brothers. He will join teammates Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard at Daytona, giving RCR an even number of drivers that may prove crucial should the event again require two-car drafting to get to the front.

"Richard called me into his office and told me, and man, I was blown away," Sadler said during the RCR stop on NASCAR's preseason media tour. "I pretty much stood up and gave him a hug and told him I appreciate the opportunity ... Being part of a four-car team, hopefully I can help my teammates as much as I can, with Paul, Kevin and Jeff. Just looking forward to this opportunity. ... To put this together and put together an effort where we can go down and be a part of the Daytona 500 means a lot to me. Man, I love that race."

Gaughan raced full-time in Cup for Roger Penske in 2004, but has made only one start in NASCAR's premier series since then. Gaughan owns a Nationwide pole at Bristol, and a combined five top-10 finishes at Phoenix, Las Vegas and Fontana.

"That's the second chance you normally don't get," he said of the four-race stint. "I had a great opportunity before, and it didn't work out for us. But to be able to come back with the caliber of Richard Childress Racing is really an opportunity -- I'm kind of pinching myself saying it really came true. I've waited eight years. I was always kind of stubborn saying it had to be my terms. I wanted it to be the right type of thing, not just go out there and run. Here you go. It took a while, say what you want about it, but I've got a chance, and I promise you, I'm not going to let it slip through my fingertips."

Mike Dillon, RCR's vice president of competition, said General Mills approached the team interested in running the Daytona 500. The No. 33 is locked into the first five races of this coming season because it finished inside the top 35 in owner points last year. Dillon said the team would be interested in adding to the car's schedule should more sponsorship arise.

"Right now we're focused on the five races we have, the sponsorship we have," he said. "Obviously if we had more sponsorship come in, would we run the car further? We most definitely would take a look at that and just see what all it could entail. If it was enough to do it, probably. We don't want to go at it halfway. We want to go at it with a winning effort, and as long as we we're able to do that, yes, we'd probably add [to] it."