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Vienna's Conley joins RCR connections

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If you're an auto racing fan and you're from West Virginia, there's a good chance you follow Richard Childress Racing.

If not, perhaps you should.

Especially on this day.

On Thursday, RCR announced that Cale Conley of Vienna will join its 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series driver lineup in the No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro.

It's a heck of an opportunity for Conley, just 21 years old.

"I'm very grateful and anxious for the opportunity to race with Richard Childress Racing," Conley said via a release. "My goal, at this point, is to get past these anxious feelings, do what I know best on the track and learn as much as possible from the team. Opportunities like this don't come along often, so I'm going to do my best and learn as much as possible."

That's the perfect attitude from a young professional, and it's admirable the way RCR is handling the state native. Conley will run "a limited schedule," according to the team's press release.

Conley will make his Nationwide Series debut at the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in March. He gained experience by racing full time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2013, finishing with four top-five finishes, five top-10 finishes and one pole award.

At RCR, Conley will team up with crew chief Nick Harrison, who joined that team last year. It will be another opportunity for the driver to learn. Harrison has experience in 131 races in NASCAR's top three series and has a Nationwide Series victory at Daytona in 2012.

Childress himself issued the following statement on Conley:

"We look forward to getting Cale in our car and seeing him take the next step in his career," said the president and CEO of RCR. "He's done a good job on the K&N level and we're pairing him up with a solid race team. It's going to be a bit of a learning curve, so that's why the limited schedule works perfect for him and allows him to progress at a comfortable pace."

You might know RCR also employs one of Cross Lanes' finest in Tyler Rader, who also played football for WVU.

Rader went through a combine of sorts and landed the job. And not just a job. He was the gas man last season for Austin Dillon, who was the centerpiece story at this past weekend's Daytona 500.

Dillon, in his first Sprint Cup season, won the pole and finished ninth, which was the best effort by a rookie in the 56th running.

Of course, there was more to the story. Dillon is the grandson of Childress and was handed Dale Earnhardt's famous No. 3 on a night in which Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race for the second time.

Want to take a guess from where Dillon's car chief hails?

Try Fairmont.

Look it up if you disbelieve. You'll find Chad Haney is the car chief under crew chief Gil Martin.

But I'm not done. Because Rader isn't done.

See, there's another Dillon now racing on the Nationwide Series. Austin's little brother Ty is trying to duplicate his big brother's 2013 Nationwide title in the series.

He's trying to do so with Austin's entire crew, which includes Rader as gas man for crew chief Danny Stockman. Ty Dillon was runner-up in the championship point standings of the Camping World Truck Series last season. Rader is actually pulling double-duty this season, also serving as the gas man for AJ Allmendinger's No. 47 Sprint Cup team.  

So there you have it. Or, rather, there RCR has it. The team had two Mountain State connections. And on Friday it added one we might hear much about in the coming years: Cale Conley.

Give 'em hell, Cale.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.


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