2014 garage preview

Ryan Newman (11th): Newman has won a race in five of the last six years, but he hasn't had a multi-win season since 2004.
Paul Menard (17th): Entering his fourth season at RCR, he's the team's most-tenured driver. Wait, how'd that happen?
Austin Dillon (Rookie): Childress' grandson brings the 3 back for the first time since Dale Earnhardt's death on Feb. 18, 2001.

The moment that RCR has been building toward for years has finally arrived. Richard Childress' grandson Austin Dillon is going Cup racing and he's doing it with a No. 3 on his door -- the slanted brand made famous by Dale Earnhardt and Childress, whom he calls Pop-Pop. It has created an electricity around the race shop in Welcome, N.C., that's been missing for a while, at least for those who stuck around. Kevin Harvick, who had been the team's top driver since Earnhardt's death, has left in no small reason because he felt like the arrival of the grandsons (Ty, Austin's little brother, is in the Nationwide Series) would leave little room for anyone else.


7. Michael Waltrip Racing
2013 Stats: (3 cars) 2 wins, 44 top-10s, 10 DNFs

Clint Bowyer (7th): In 252 races since '07, he's earned top-10 finishes exactly 50 percent of the time -- one of only seven drivers to do so.
Brian Vickers (N/A): As a two-year Cup part-timer, he earned 11 top-10s in 25 starts, including a win at New Hampshire in July.

On the night of Sept. 7, 2013, MWR went from elated to indicted, having orchestrated one of the worst black eyes in NASCAR history -- a race-fixing scandal that altered the postseason lineup, resulted in a team principal's suspension and cost Waltrip NAPA's sponsorship. That led to a 15 percent workforce reduction, the departure of Martin Truex Jr. and a contraction from three cars to two. Bowyer, who spun his car to turn the night at Richmond on its ear, speaks for the entire team: "I just want to get to Daytona and hope y'all never ask me about Richmond ever again."


8. Furniture Row Racing
2013 Stats: (1 car) 0 wins, 16 top-10s, 2 DNFs

Martin Truex, Jr. (16th): He's posted 46 top-10s over the past three years after only 43 over his previous five full-time seasons.

The Sprint Cup Series' only non-North Carolina-based team has brought Truex to Denver, snapped up after the post-Richmond fallout left him without a sponsor or a ride at Michael Waltrip Racing. The flagship team of start-and-parkers who are actually trying to build something, FRR posted no top-10s over their first five seasons, but the last three have brought five, six and an amazing 16 with Kurt Busch behind the wheel last year. "Martin's bad luck was our good luck," says team GM Joe Garone. "We might've taken a big step back losing Kurt, but now we have another driver who knows what it takes to make the Chase."


9. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
2013 Stats: (2 cars) 1 win, 17 top-10s, 1 DNF

Jamie McMurray (15th): On Oct. 19, Auburn upset Texas A&M to start its SEC title run. The next day, McMurray won Talladega in an Auburn-painted Chevy. Coincidence?
Kyle Larson (Rookie): The wunderkind has only four Cup starts but is already begging Ganassi for an Indy 500 ride.

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