Saturday Las Vegas NotebookJeff Burton: New RCR competition structure is a huge positive
By: By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, Superior Telegram
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The way Jeff Burton sees it, changes to the structure of the competition department at Richard Childress Racing already have had a profound effect.
Late last year, RCR hired respected engineer Dr. Eric Warren as director of competition. During the offseason, the organization expanded its relationship with affiliate Furniture Row Racing, installing the Denver, Colo.-based team’s director of completion, Mark McArdle, in a dual role as director of racing operations at RCR.
“It’s a big difference,” Burton told the NASCAR Wire Service. “We haven’t always done the best job of working together as a multicar team. We’ve gotten better through the years, but, honestly, even those years when we were putting three cars in the Chase, we were much more three individual teams than we were one team.
“Today, our cars are much more similar. We’re sharing information much better, much more seamlessly. It’s a big difference, and that’s important, because when you’re going to the wind tunnel or doing something with simulation or you’re spending money with something, you’ve got to be able to spread that over all three teams. If you’re not, you’re not being smart.”
McArdle shuttles between Denver and RCR headquarters in Welcome, N.C. At the track, he works with the three RCR NASCAR Sprint Cup cars, as well as the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS driven by Kurt Busch.
“What’s going on at the shop in that regard is the biggest difference, but even here at the track, when somebody hits on something, either Eric or Mark is at my car with a tablet, (saying) ‘Look, look,’” Burton said. “You don’t even have to go looking for it. They’re there giving it to you. We’ve never had that before.”
GOING, GOING, GAUGHAN
Rain did more than wash out Sprint Cup qualifying on Friday. It caused a restructuring of Saturday’s schedule, and Nationwide Series qualifying also was lost in the shuffle.
Setting the NNS field according to last year’s owner points left Las Vegas driver Brendan Gaughan on the outside looking in. Rather than try to negotiate a ride in another car, Gaughan preferred to look ahead to his next scheduled NNS start, at Fontana, Calif.
“It’ll be OK, bud,” Gaughan posted on his Twitter account in response to a fan’s query. “We go kick some butt in Fontana instead.
The day wasn’t a total loss, however. Gaughan, a bench warmer for the Georgetown basketball team during his college days, watched his beloved Hoyas trounce Syracuse 61-39 in Austin Dillon’s transporter.
“Bummed I’m not racing today, but thanks @dstockman3 (Danny Stockman, Dillon’s crew chief) for letting me watch my @GeorgetownHoops game in the trailer!” Gaughan posted after the game.
Boyd Gaming and Las Vegas Motor Speedway announced a milestone agreement that extend the company’s sponsorship of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at LVMS for four more years. The entitlement has been in place since 1998, and the new agreement will extend Boyd Gaming’s sponsorship to 20 years.
Boyd Gaming is the parent company of Sam’s Town and eight other casino properties throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have the best title sponsor in the Nationwide Series,” LVMS president Chris Powell said. “The event (Sam’s Town 300) has become one of the most popular on the circuit, and our friends at Boyd Gaming share a great deal of responsibility for that success.”