Richard Childress Racing announced on Wednesday (Jan. 25) driver Elliott Sadler will run the No. 33 Chevrolet in the season-opening Daytona 500 with sponsorship from General Mills and Kroger.
After that event, Brendan Gaughan will climb behind the wheel of the No. 33 for the next four races with backing from South Point Casinos.
Nationwide Series team manager Gil Martin will serve as crew chief for the car during the first five events.
Using 2011 owner points, the No. 33 team will be locked into those first five races of the season, and is fully funded thanks to General Mills, Kroger and South Point.
While Sadler will run his 13th Daytona 500, Gaughan will run the next four Sprint Cup Series events. Already slated to run 10 Nationwide Series and eight races in the Camping World Truck Series for RCR, Gaughan is mirroring Sadler and attempting to climb his way back to the top.
A former Sprint Cup Series driver, Gaughan has spent the last eight seasons racing in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series, but jumped at the opportunity to join a high-quality race team, knowing he was climbing into solid, proven equipment.
“This, for me, is the dream come true of a second chance,” he said. “You don’t normally get them. If you do get them, they’re normally not of this caliber. You’ve usually got to do something on that’s in that little bit lower tier to come out and shock the world. To be able to come out with a team that’s close to the Chase, in it, just barely out of it this year, a crew chief with four Cup wins last year with the organization, for me, this is the chance I’ve waited eight years for.
“I always said, if I ever go back it’s going to be more on my terms and the right opportunity,” Gaughan said. “I think I waited just about right.”
A lot has changed in the eight years since Gaughan last competed in the Sprint Cup Series, but he feels his experience with the Nationwide Series car, and some testing in Cup car, and the high quality of the team have him prepared to make a return.
“The biggest thing that gives me confidence is Shane Wilson (crew chief on Kevin Harvick’s No. 29 car) in the shop yesterday, and he said, ‘This car was built for you,’” he explained.
While he is open to more Sprint Cup races if the proper funding comes about, Gaughan is content with his schedule and committed to working his way up within a proven organization, but will not rule out any possibility.
“Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered,” he said. “All I’m looking forward to is four races. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘If we get a top five we can get it!’ Nope. If I get top five, I’m going to sit here and cry my ass off. It’s going to be phenomenal for me to get it. I’m going to do every bit I can in those four [races].”
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