Childress Racing searches for first win of season
It's been 59 races since a full-time Richard Childress Racing NASCAR XFINITY Series driver won a race.
The last time a full-time RCR wheelman celebrated in Victory Lane was when Brendan Gaughan triumphed at Kentucky on Sept. 20, 2014, leading a team sweep of the top-three positions. Brian Scott took second, while Ty Dillon finished third.
Since Gaughan's triumph, RCR full-timers have logged five runner-ups. Scott has been replaced in the stable by Sunoco Rookie Brandon Jones, while Gaughan and Dillon still remain. They will try to earn a win in Saturday's Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (3:30 p.m. ET on USA) -- the second of three road-course races this month.
Gaughan visited Victory Lane turning left and right at Road America in 2014, while Dillon placed third at Mid-Ohio last year.
"At Mid-Ohio you have to be very precise," said Gaughan, who finished eighth in last weekend's road course race at Watkins Glen. "You must know what you are doing to get into the corners with proper technique, or there are big penalties. You must be technical to hit the apex of turns well and get into the braking zones in order to carry speed. I love it. It is true road racing."
Dillon placed 11th at Watkins Glen last Saturday and hopes to improve this weekend.
"I think we had some success (at Mid-Ohio last year) because we qualified well (third) and were able to run up front for a majority of the race," Dillon said. "Track position is so important at road course races because it effects pit and race strategy. It will be important to qualify again within the top five, make no mistakes on pit road and maybe have a little luck on your side."
The 19-year-old Jones has limited experience on road courses with only two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts on them. He produced a 29th-place finish at Mid-Ohio in the XFINITY Series last year, but looked improved with a 13th-place output at Watkins Glen last weekend."
"There is a great environment at Mid-Ohio," Jones said. "I was pretty happy to run there last year with RCR in the XFINITY Series car. It was kind of up-and-down day. We would run inside the top 10, then fell back a little bit at the end. The biggest thing I took away from that experience was just making sure to stay on the racetrack. Every once in a while you would dip off and go off the racing surface, so it is important to limit those incidents."
Although they haven't won yet, RCR's regulars have consistently registered strong finishes, putting them right in the middle of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase hunt. Dillon, Gaughan and Jones rank fourth, sixth and eighth, respectively, on the 12-man Chase Grid and should comfortably make it into the series playoffs when they start at Kentucky in six races. If one of the three can navigate the three-round, seven-race playoff, he would capture RCR its fifth NASCAR XFINITY Series driver championship.
Race Weekend Preview
NASCAR XFINITY Series
Race: Mid-Ohio Challenge
Place: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Date and Time: Saturday, Aug. 13 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Tune-in: USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 169.35 miles (75 laps)
What to Watch For: Erik Jones, who just announced he will run a full schedule for Furniture Row Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next year, looks to add to his series-leading three wins. ... No driver in the field has ever won at Mid-Ohio, so a new race winner is guaranteed. ... Road course aces Nelson Piquet Jr. and Kenny Habul are all scheduled to race Saturday. Twelfth-place Blake Koch tries to keep the final spot on the Chase Grid. He is trailed by Ross Chastain (-2 points) and Dakoda Armstrong (-9). ... NASCAR Next driver Alon Day will be will make his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut this weekend, becoming the first driver from Israel to start a national series race.