Andy Petree has a rich history with Richard Childress Racing and knows what the organization is capable of. Which is why Petree, who was announced to an advisor role this week, confidently said Saturday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway the ship will be righted.
“This sport goes in cycles. There’s going to be down times and there’s going to be times when you’re up,” Petree said outside the RCR haulers after conversing with drivers and team members. “Right now, they’re a little bit on the down cycle. But we are definitely going to turn it around.
“[RCR]’s had its times … [Dale] Earnhardt was the driver at the team and it was a one-car team and then grew it to a big, big organization. And there’s been times when it was really, really good – you look at some of the good years they had with [Kevin] Harvick.”
Having spent the last few years doing television, particularly on Fox Sports 1’s Race Hub, Petree admitted this position will help him get back to doing things he’s been seeking. Television is a joy for him and he plans to continue doing it, but the competitive edge never goes away.
A Childress crew chief from 1993–95, Petree won the championship with Earnhardt in ’93-94. His relationship with owner Richard Childress has remained firm through the years, even as Petree ventured into other opportunities. It seemed a simple decision when the two discussed this job.
Part of what Petree was doing at Martinsville was learning. Taking things in with a fresh set of eyes and ears.
“Richard and I have a relationship, a good relationship, for a lot of years. We talked regularly and have lunch every now and then, so we’ve talked about this and the possibility of trying to help him because he’s got a big operation and it’s a lot for him to try to keep his hands around,” Petree said. “He wants somebody he can trust and knows my capabilities and he wanted to know if I was willing to do it, which I am.
“I’ve been doing TV for a while and I enjoy the heck the out of it, but nothing kind of replaces the competitive urge you have and I’ve got a lot of things that I’m itching to get back to. This will get me back there.”
From a competition standpoint, RCR qualified two cars for this year’s playoffs with Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon. However, neither made it out of the first round. And their respective victories earlier this year – Newman at Phoenix and Dillon at Charlotte – was the first time an RCR car had been in the winner’s circle since 2013.
It’s also been a few years since an RCR car has been inside the top five in points. Newman pulled off a remarkable feat in 2014 when he went winless but made it to the championship race, finishing second in both the race and the standings.
In addition to its three cars, RCR also has a technical alliance with other organizations like Leavine Family Racing, Germain Racing and JTG Daugherty. For Petree, the task is not just to see an uptick in performance for the house cars, but everyone associated with Childress.
“I just want to make these cars better – everybody that feeds off RCR, the RCR teams,” Petree said. “Everybody.”