RCR’s 2014 plans take shape with McArdle move
August 06, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
Furniture Row’s executive director of competition managed Richard Childress Racing alliance
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Richard Childress Racing made the first of several highly anticipated personnel moves this weekend, naming Mark McArdle as Director of Racing Operations effective immediately with Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.
The veteran McArdle has spent the season splitting time between RCR and the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing team as part of a technology partnership between the two organizations. Although he will still work in some capacity with Furniture Row because of the technical alliance, he will now be based fulltime in North Carolina, not at Furniture Row’s shop in Denver.
McArdle, who worked on three Indianapolis 500-winning teams, has spent more than two decades in motorsports and is highly regarded in NASCAR since his move from open-wheel in 1999.
"I am delighted to join the RCR family on a full-time basis, and be closer to where my family lives," McArdle said. "Having been part of the team on a shared basis with Furniture Row Racing makes me feel very comfortable and will make for a smooth transition.
“We have races to win and championships to earn this year at RCR. I'm going to focus all of my experience and knowledge on making that happen."
RCR Director of Competition, Dr. Eric Warren said the move was really quite seamless because, over the past few months, McArdle had spent the majority of the time in North Carolina as FRR further established itself a Chase contender with driver Kurt Busch. He had served as “executive” director of competition, but the organization has a full-time director of competition in Pete Rondeau, who remains in place there.
“At the beginning of the year, we said we’ll spend part of the time at RCR and part at FRR. What’s happened is it started out half and half, then it was 75 percent of the time here then 90 percent,’’ Warren said Sunday. “Eventually we realized we need to take the responsibility and bring him in full time from a business standpoint. It was as much a structural change as any.
The three-car RCR team also has other major decisions on its plate for the 2014 season. Driver Kevin Harvick will be vacating Childress’ No. 29 Chevy for the No. 4 at Stewart-Haas Racing, and there is a lot of speculation as to who will be named for that prime seat.
Ryan Newman, who Harvick will replace at SHR, is widely reported to among the candidates. Childress said Sunday, there are currently two leading possibilities, although he declined to give names.
Although nothing has been finalized, there is also a strong likelihood that Childress will move his grandson, Austin Dillon up from the Nationwide Series ranks to drive the No. 3 Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series.
Childress said Saturday he wasn’t ready to confirm any driver news just yet, but hoped to have contracts signed and things in place by the end of September with an announcement later, perhaps at the season-ending awards banquet unless a sponsor wants it done earlier.
“Ten years ago, you’d say to sponsor X, ‘we need you for the year, this is our driver, boom, let’s go,’ explained Childress. “Today, this one sponsor may say he wants 16 or 21 races. Then you have to fill the void and when you start doing that, it takes a lot more time to put all the parts and pieces together, and you don’t want to announce anything when you’re 80 percent done. If you’ve got to still sell six races, you don’t want to leave them out of that (announcement).
In the meantime, getting the competition department firmed up is an important first step moving forward.
"Mark's (McArdle) experience with Furniture Row Racing was beneficial for both teams," Warren said. "His role has become more and more integral with RCR, especially with the oversight of all we have going on right now in all three series.
“We started working closer together with him and his involvement was becoming very important to our organization. His experience, technical knowledge and expertise in competition processes will be beneficial to RCR in many capacities."