NASCAR: RCR announcement a sign of things to come?

Richard Childress Racing confirmed that Austin Hill is set to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut at Michigan International Speedway this Sunday.

After hinting at a big announcement pertaining to their NASCAR Cup Series driver lineup last week, Richard Childress Racing revealed the news on Tuesday when they confirmed that Austin Hill is set to drive a third entry for the team in this Sunday afternoon’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Hill, who is in his first season as a full-time Xfinity Series driver with Richard Childress Racing, has never before competed in a Cup Series race.

The 28-year-old Winston, Georgia native is set to pilot the #33 Chevrolet in Sunday’s 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.0-mile (3.219-kilometer) Brooklyn, Michigan oval alongside full-time teammates Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick.

Is this a sign of things to come?

Earlier this summer, Richard Childress Racing announced that they had picked up the option in Reddick’s contract to keep him behind the wheel of the #8 Chevrolet in 2023, but what they failed to do was reward his stellar performance with a contract extension.

So what did Reddick do? He turned around and signed a multi-year contract with 23XI Racing and Toyota, a deal that is set to begin in 2024.

Richard Childress Racing claimed to have been surprised by the deal and responded by saying that the announcement could not have come at a worse time, while Reddick stated that they should have seen it coming.

Additionally, the timing of the announcement did give the team plenty of time to search for a replacement for Reddick behind the wheel of the #8 Chevrolet for 2024.

Hill was immediately seen as one of the top candidates to replace the 26-year-old Corning, California native in two seasons, given his success with Richard Childress Racing in his rookie Xfinity Series season.

He has won twice in 20 starts and racked up six other top five finishes, and he sits in sixth place in the point standings, which puts him seven positions higher than fellow rookie teammate Sheldon Creed.

Let’s also not forget that Richard Childress Racing fielded a third entry for Reddick for two races back in 2019, when Dillon and Daniel Hemric were the team’s full-time drivers.

Reddick, who was in his first year with the organization at the Xfinity level at the time, was ultimately promoted to the Cup Series as Hemric’s replacement in 2020.

Will history repeat itself?

There is obviously no guarantee that Hill will be behind the wheel of the #8 Chevrolet in 2024, but as mentioned above, the timing of Reddick’s 23XI Racing announcement gives the team ample time to assess their options.

Given their decision to put Hill in a third car this weekend, he appears to be atop their shortlist of candidates.

The FireKeepers Casino 400 is set to be broadcast live on NBC from Michigan International Speedway beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, August 7. Start a free FuboTV trial now and don’t miss it!