In this edition, we will cover Richard Childress Racing and its close affiliate team, Germain Racing. We are aiming to have all previews done in time for February 16’s Daytona 500 (TV: FOX; Radio: MRN).
No. 3 Austin Dillon
The 2018 Daytona 500 champion started 2019 showing decent speed but fell from being a Playoff driver after race ten to being nowhere near Playoff contention 14 races later; thanks to nine finishes of 24th or worse, including seven sub-top 30 finishes. Dillon would finish 21st in points with six top 10s and an average finish of 19.5.
Fast forward to 2020 and Justin Alexander will be returning to crew chief for him after one year apart. Alexander and Dillon have had success before with Dillon’s only two wins coming with Alexander, including the 2017 Coca-Cola 600, their first race together. Dillon will be in his second year as the most-experienced driver on the team.
Combine a familiar crew chief returning with the new Camaro nose debuting for 2020 and Dillon having the talent to put results together when the conditions are right, as evidenced by his past success, and the ingredients are there for Dillon to break through and step up as a veteran driver.
With that in mind, I still expect Dillon’s performance to improve slightly. I expect Dillon to get some top 10s, occasional top 5s and contend for a Playoff spot, but making the Playoffs is going to be tough for a number of reasons.
All Playoff drivers are returning to their respective teams in 2020 and 2019 Playoff spot contenders Chris Buescher and Matt Dibenedetto will be in better equipment than before and contender Jimmie Johnson is bound to seek vengeance from missing the Playoffs in 2019.
2020 will be a challenge for Dillon and therefore a telling year for him. The best chance he has to have the most success is at Darlington, Auto Club, Michigan and the plate tracks, where he has historically done the best. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Dillon sneak a win in but him missing the Playoffs would also not be surprising.
No. 8 Tyler Reddick
The Rookie-of-the-Year candidate and two-time and defending Xfinity Series champion. will moving up to the Cup Series in 2020. Much to his chagrin, two of his main title rivals in 2019, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer, will also be moving up to compete with him for ROTY honors.
While all three drivers will have their respective Xfinity Series crew chiefs, Reddick will have his entire championship-winning team behind him in 2020 which should help his transition to the Cup Series.
Only Custer and Reddick have previously started in the Cup Series but only Reddick has posted a top 10 in the series. Although the scope is narrow, being that Reddick has made two starts and Custer has made three in a different package with lesser equipment, Reddick’s ninth place finish at Kansas last May is something that raises the possibility for Reddick to start off his Cup career relatively well.
In reality, I expect Reddick to be around a 15th-to-20th place driver for the beginning portion of the season as he learns the dynamics of the Cup Series. Like what 2019 ROTY contenders Ryan Preece and Daniel Hemric had done in some early season races, cracking the top 10 in races that feature more attrition or jumbled strategy is possible but consistently running there is going to take some time.
By season’s end, I think Reddick will notch a few top 10s and manage to be top 20 in points but I don’t expect Reddick to do anything flashy or be in the Playoffs, if the trend of rookies needing a couple years to get acquainted and win continues.
Furthermore, Reddick has the talent but RCR is at a place where they need a year of stability and performance that points to potential future success and 2020 could be that year for them.
No. 13 Ty Dillon
The two-time stage winner in 2019 experienced his best Cup season yet. In addition to his two stage wins, Ty scored the most top 10s (3) and top 5s (1) in a single season, in addition to having his best average finish (20.6), best average start (23.5) and matched his best points finish (24th) while finishing every race.
Ty showed marked improvement in his second season with crew chief Matt Borland and Borland will be returning for a third season in 2020. In the third season, it will be interesting to see if Ty will show more progress or if he will take steps backward.
Even continuing similar performance as he had in 2019 will do just that for not only himself but for Germain too.
Ty’s last three seasons have nearly equaled Mears’s performance in his last three Cup seasons which is positive for a driver like Ty Dillon who has room to grow and is just entering the prime of his career.
With that said, I anticipate Ty to stay around the same performance as he maintained last season, with some slight improvement.
Ty’s superspeedway performance could yield results for him this season if he’s able to capitalize on recent success; he has an average finish of 13.5 at Talladega in six starts there and three consecutive top 10s at Daytona, which dates back to the 2018 Coke Zero Sugar 400. Ty could be a sleeper pick at one of the superspeedway races and a driver who could find himself in the Playoffs via a win at one of those tracks.
Richard Childress Racing