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."