Paul Menard brought home an eighth-place finish at Auto Club Speedway after recovering from a flat tire mid-race to score his third-consecutive top-10 finish of the season.
Shortly after restarting 12th, Menard reported he had a flat tire. The crew went to work changing four tires under the green flag and the Eau Claire, Wis., native returned to the track in the 27th spot, one lap down to the race leader.
A caution period on lap 117 gave Menard the opportunity to take the wave around and rejoin the lead lap cars. Back on the lead lap, in the 27th spot, Menard needed a caution for tires and on lap 130 another yellow flag was displayed, giving him that opportunity.
Menard continued to improve with each lap. As the laps wound down, Menard found himself inside the top-10 fighting for every spot he could get, ultimately taking the checkered flag in the eighth position.
Menard's top-10 finish moves him to eighth in the championship points standings heading into the Easter off-weekend.
Paul Menard (Start - 27 / Finish - 8 / Laps Led - 0 / Points - 8): "We had a good car all day, but just had bad luck with a flat tire mid-race. Slugger Labbe (crew chief) and the CertainTeed/Menards crew never gave up and we battled back to end the day with an eighth-place finish.
We've had a great start to the 2013 season and we're looking forward to heading to Martinsville Speedway in two weeks to continue our streak of top-10 finishes. "
Kevin Harvick Earns a 13th-Place Finish at Auto Club Speedway
Kevin Harvick drove the No. 29 Jimmy John's Chevrolet to a 13th-place finish after showing dominance in the Auto Club 400. The California native started the 200-lap event from the 14th position and quickly settled into the top five by lap 23.
Happy with the handling of the Jimmy John's Chevrolet, crew chief Gil Martin called Harvick down pit road on lap 69 for four tires and fuel. During the stop, NASCAR officials cited Harvick for speeding on pit road which resulted in a drive-through penalty, putting Harvick back to the 27th position.
As the laps ticked away, the 37-year-old driver posted some of the fastest lap times and worked his way back toward the front, settling back into the top five on lap 122.
Harvick remained a fixture in the top five until he began to lose grip in the red and black machine, causing him to lose track position during late-race restarts. Harvick fell back as far as 14th during the final laps, ultimately crossing the finish line in the 13th position.
With the top-15 finish, Harvick moved up two positions, to 15th, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Kevin Harvick (Start - 14 / Finish - 13 / Laps Led - 1 / Points - 15): "This was not the result our team should have left with today. The Jimmy John's Chevrolet was really fast all day, we just lost grip and track position at the end. We'll enjoy a weekend off, then regroup and hope for a better result when we go to Martinsville Speedway in two weeks."
Jeff Burton Finishes 17th at Auto Club Speedway
Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS team finished 17th at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday. After starting the 200-lap event from the 22nd position, the South Boston, Va., native maintained a top-20 running position while fighting a tight-handling Chevrolet for the first part of the race.
Crew chief Luke Lambert directed the No. 31 Caterpillar pit crew to make chassis and air pressure adjustments to the car on multiple pit stops. Just past the halfway mark, the car began to handle better as the 21-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner advanced into the top 15.
As the afternoon progressed, Burton radioed to Lambert that the tight condition returned. The Richard Childress Racing driver battled an ill-handling Chevrolet during the latter stages of the 400-mile event, eventually crossing the finish line in the 17th position.
With the top-20 finish, Burton now sits 24th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Jeff Burton (Start-22 / Finish-17 / Laps Led-0 / Points-24): "The No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team battled a tight condition all day except for one segment of the race. We fought hard all day and salvaged a top-20 finish. I'm proud of this team for never giving up."
Richard Childress Racing