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October 26, 2017

Petree: RCR has tools to be one of ‘top cars every week’


Andy Petree
Rusty Jarrett
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RELATED: Andy Petree retained by RCR as advisor

In an effort to strengthen its future, Richard Childress Racing dipped into its past this week, announcing that former championship-winning crew chief Andy Petree will serve in an advisory role with the three-team organization.

Petree served as crew chief at RCR from 1993-95, winning back-to-back championships with driver Dale Earnhardt in ’93-94. Earnhardt finished second in points in ’95.

“Richard is totally committed to winning, I can tell you that,” Petree told NASCAR.com. “And that’s the whole reason behind this.”

Prior to joining RCR, Petree served as crew chief for drivers Phil Parsons (1987-88) and Harry Gant (’89-92) for team owners Richard and Leo Jackson.

An owner later in his NASCAR career, Petree fielded teams that won twice with drivers Bobby Hamilton and Joe Nemechek.

Today, RCR fields three full-time Chevrolet entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series — the No. 3 of Austin Dillon, the No. 27 of Paul Menard and the No. 31 of Ryan Newman. Dillon and Newman have one win apiece this season, and qualified for the NASCAR Playoffs. The victories were the first for the Welcome, N.C.-based group since 2013.

Menard will join the No. 21 with Wood Brothers Racing in 2018.

Childress, inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame earlier this year, spent 11 years racing as an independent at NASCAR’s top level before exiting the car to focus on ownership. Earnhardt won six of his seven championships while driving for RCR and 67 of his 76 victories.

Eight other drivers have accounted for the organization’s 40 remaining victories.

“It’s something Richard and I have talked about for a few months,” Petree said of his new role. “Richard is very involved with everything that goes on at RCR and he has been forever. Well, they’re not running well and it’s a really, really big machine. He’s trying to figure it all out and he needs help. He needs somebody he can trust, somebody that can come in there and evaluate all these areas and that’s going to be my mission for the next few weeks until the end of the season.

“Figure out where we could actually get the most benefit, where are the things that are really working good, where are the things that are not working so good and to help him make the decisions. That’s really what it boils down to.”

RCR already boasts a talented management staff that includes Dr. Eric Warren, the director of competition, operations director Sammy Johns as well as crew chiefs Matt Borland, Justin Alexander and Luke Lambert.

“He has some smart people there; really dedicated people,” Petree said. “A lot of them. … They do a good job and they deserve to be winning.”

Childress and Petree’s relationship didn’t end when Petree left RCR. Along with fellow team owner Dale Earnhardt, the three formed RAD, a technical alliance that combined resources to focus on research and development. Much of that work resulted in dominant superspeedway programs for the group.

“We were working on some forward-thinking things in that RAD alliance,” Petree said. “There were a lot of things that we were spending a lot of money on that weren’t producing any fruit for us. At least immediately. I convinced Dale and Richard that we shift that (focus) to things we were doing that were really moving the needle. And when we did it made a huge difference.

“That’s the kind of philosophy that (Richard) is looking for here, too. He spends a lot of money. They’ve got every single tool that they need to work with and most of it is state of the art. There is no reason that they are not one of the leading cars or top cars every week. And so he’s frustrated.”

Petree said he will be at the race track each week for the remainder of the 2017 season. He will continue to serve as an analyst on NASCAR Race Hub, the daily NASCAR news program on FS1.

“I miss being in the game,” Petree admitted. “I see a lot of things — I still stay awake at night thinking of things to do, wondering why people do certain things. And if I have smart people to bounce things off of, that would be the ultimate.

“And I’ve got that now with Richard’s teams. I’m so excited about the potential that’s there.”

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