The (Preseason) Thunder Rolls For RCR

Dillon 3

In my best Beck Bennett (he of the AT&T “classroom” commercials) voice, I proclaim “It’s really not complicated. Faster is better.” Sure, all publicity is good publicity, but when a race team draws attention for being fastest on the track, it’s a heck of a lot better.

Rookie of The Year Candidate Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing led an RCR 1-2-3 chart topping performance in the Preseason Thunder testing session at Daytona International Speedway. The wunderkind flew around the superspeedway at a speed of 195.109 miles per hour, followed by Brian Scott (driving in the 33)with a speed of 194.582, and Matt Crafton (driving in the 27) with a speed of 194.342.

Does it really mean much? It’s not like he went out and the won the Daytona 500. True, but let’s put it this way: we’re talking about Austin Dillon in a positive light for his on-track performance. The kid has a lot on his shoulders, racing for his “Pop Pop’s” team and with you-know-who’s old racing number on the side of his car. Imagine Dillon goes out and dumps it on the first turn, or embarks on a pedestrian run. It would be a “see, I told you he couldn’t cut it” moment. For at least one more day, the skeptics are held at bay.

Faster is better, not just for Richard Childress Racing, but for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. For what seems like forever, most all of the talk has centered around cars owned by Rick Hendrick and Joe Gibbs, with a little dash of Gene Haas, Roger Penske and Michael Waltrip sprinkled in for a smidgeon of spice. Until his recent departure to Stewart-Haas Racing, Kevin Harvick was THE standard bearer for Richard Childress, and quite frankly, it seemed at times like he won “in spite of,” instead of “because of” his team. Maybe, just maybe this recent performance signals a full return to relevance for RCR.

While dominance and greatness goes hand in hand, NASCAR Nation is a happier and healthier place when there’s a wider spectrum of true competitors. In the pantheon of all that is NASCAR, Friday’s testing session just makes a little blip on the radar, but what’s better, to be faster or slower out of the gate? It’s really not complicated- the only thing that would have made Friday better is if RCR newcomer Ryan Newman had helped make it a 1-2-3-4 sweep at the top of the speed charts. Newman has the least to prove of the group, so there’s no need for wringing of hands there. If the trend continues, 2014 could prove to be one nicely crowded party at the front.