JOLIET, Ill. — The owner of Richard Childress Racing hasn’t given up on fielding four Sprint Cup cars next season or having Clint Bowyer drive one of them.
Richard Childress said on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway that until Bowyer tells him his deal with Michael Waltrip Racing is done he will continue to work to find sponsorship for the driver of RCR’s No. 33 Cup car.
“Honestly, we’re still trying today,” Childress said. “We both agreed if an opportunity comes for him he needs to take it. But yes, we’re still trying to put something together this week and last week.”
Childress said he has a list of four or five drivers, including Bowyer, to drive the 33 in 2012. He said several sponsors are interested for any of the drivers.
Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing acknowledged they are in serious negotiations, and Bowyer said a deal could come within the next two weeks. But Bowyer has repeatedly said his first option would be to stay with Childress, his neighbor in the Welcome, N.C. area.
Bowyer didn’t rule out staying on Sunday.
“We’ve still got things we’re working on,” he said of talks with MWR and RCR.
Said Childress: “We want him, he wants to stay. Everything is perfect for us to stay together — except for the dollars.”
Childress would not mention other drivers that might fill Bowyer’s seat should sponsorship be found. But the prime candidates are Brian Vickers, Mark Martin and possibly David Ragan if he loses his ride at Roush Fenway Racing due to lack of sponsorship.
Childress didn’t rule out putting grandson Austin Dillon into a Cup ride for a few races with another driver filling out the rest of the season.
But the plan for Dillon is to put him in a full Nationwide Series car next season with Childress’ other grandson Ty Dillon replacing him in the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops ride in the Truck Series. Childress said there’s a chance if he doesn’t stay at four Cup teams that the 33 crew could drop down to Nationwide for Dillon.
Sources said the plan is for Dillon to drive the No. 3 in Nationwide, but Childress said that hasn’t been determined.
“We’re still working on a lot of things,” Childress said. “A lot depends on the sponsor. … I don’t want to push (Austin) along too fast. The plan is to run Nationwide a couple of years, then if he’s ready for Cup we’ll move him up.”
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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