via Imago

via Imago

It is no secret how Kyle Busch has struggled in the Cup Series for over a year now. While things have been reportedly not fine at Richard Childress Racing, the team’s vice president of competition, Andy Petree, retired last week. With this announcement’s questionable timing, many eyebrows have been raised. Interestingly, Dale Earnhardt Jr shed some light on his perspective on the events at RCR.

Busch currently sits in the 19th position in the playoffs, 104 points behind the cutline. While that’s concerning, his winless streak of 40 races continued on Sunday. The two-time Cup Series winner not only has four DNFs this season but has plenty going wrong with his car on the track. Amid this unfortunate run, Petree’s retirement has only drawn more speculation.

Fishy circumstances at Richard Childress Racing following Andy Petree’s retirement


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With seven races remaining in the Cup Series regular season, both Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon face the threat of missing out on the playoffs. While it will be humiliating for Richard Childress and his team, it has been coming given the poor results of this campaign. Naturally, RCR is trying to fix the problems and look for solutions, but time is running out of hand.

The departure of Andy Petree seems to be one of those decisions. It is worth noting that he spent three decades with Richard Childress Racing after first joining them in 1993 as a crew chief. Having won two championships with Dale Earnhardt Sr, Petree has already made a name for himself. As time passed, he grew in stature at RCR and was promoted to executive vice president.


Despite his legendary status, Petree’s unprecedented retirement certainly grabbed a lot of attention. In the latest episode of his podcast, “The Dale Jr Download”, Junior discussed Petree’s departure. He said, “It’s abrupt; it makes me wonder why. Because it’s in the middle of the season, it makes me think back to when Kyle Bush was standing on his pit gate talking about how bad they were.”

Dale Jr then speculated what could have possibly happened at RCR. He said, “When he [Busch] was arguing with [Ricky] Stenhouse, who was standing off to the side about 10 feet away? Andy Petree. I just wonder if Andy decided ‘I need to do something else’ or did Andy voiced an opinion and concern that the rest of the group didn’t agree on and said ‘Hey maybe we’re not all on the same page here’. So something like that probably went down.”



Junior affirmed that Petree isn’t the kind of guy who could plan something different mid-season, indicating something didn’t go as planned. He used the altercation between Aric Almirola and Bubba Wallace in May to explain the scenario at RCR. In Junior’s words, “It’s kind of like that Almirola-Bubba Wallace thing. We all know the true details of it.”

While not many know the true story behind the feud between the two NASCAR drivers, the same seems to be the case between Andy Petree and RCR. However, Dale Jr went on to suggest how the current situation can be used as an opportunity by Richard Childress and his team.


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No change is easy to handle. While it is the only constant, Richard Childress Racing faces a challenging time right now. With Andy Petree gone and both their full-time Cup Series drivers likely to miss the playoffs, the situation cannot be more tricky. However, Dale Earnhardt Jr felt that this was the right time to make things right, despite the hurdles.

Junior said that the current scenario presents an opportunity for the team to change. In the same episode of his podcast “The Dale Jr Download,”  he said, “Petree’s got a legacy; dude has accomplished a ton in this sport. Appreciate what you did for RCR; it was awesome that he came back and was a part of all of that over the last several years but here’s a chance to hit a home run. Bring in somebody with some new ideas and some new energy.”


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In Dale Jr’s opinion, every time there’s a vacancy available, it is not worth debating how the departing personnel were. Instead, prompt action on getting better should only be on the agenda in this case. In fact, that is what he and his former crew chief, Steve Letarte, did so well together. As for Richard Childress Racing, replacing Andy Petree permanently would be a challenging job, but an important one at that.

While Petree’s reason for departing remains mysterious, it is interesting to see what Richard Childress comes up with. Most importantly, is there enough time for him and his team to help Kyle Busch get into the playoffs? Well, it’s an answer only time can tell.