Childress might expand to 4 Cup teams

Updated: August 1, 2010, 12:22 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

LONG POND, Pa. -- Richard Childress Racing is looking at possible expansion to four teams in the Sprint Cup Series in 2011 and is in the process of finalizing a deal to run next year's Nationwide Series program through Kevin Harvick Inc.

Team owner Richard Childress said an announcement on the deal with KHI should be made soon.

The plan is for RCR to supply engines to KHI for the Nationwide program and for RCR to field two teams in the Truck Series where Childress' grandson, Austin Dillon, drives the No. 3. RCR Cup drivers Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick would run KHI cars when in the Nationwide Series.

Childress would not comment on speculation that Paul Menard, who drives for Richard Petty Motorsports, would be his fourth driver. But he did say that a fourth team is a possibility.

"We're looking at it," Childress said Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

RCR had four teams in 2009, but returned to three this season after sponsorship for the fourth team and Casey Mears could not be found. Menard would bring the family business, Menard's, with him as a sponsor if he made the move.

Childress said having four teams did not hurt performance last season as some have suggested.

"We pretty well put our finger on some of the things that hurt us," said Childress, who has three teams currently in the top 12 that make the Chase after failing to put one in a year ago. "At the end of the last 10 races we had all four teams running pretty well."

RPM does not have a deal with Menard for 2011, but has been in talks with Marcos Ambrose to drive either the 9 being vacated by Kasey Kahne or No. 19 currently driven by Elliott Sadler.

Team officials are optimistic that AJ Allmendinger will be back in the No. 43 next season even though Allmendinger has talked to other teams.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter